Every parent wants their kids to be safe. Unfortunately, the world isn’t always a safe place for little ones. These picture books about consent can teach kids to play a part (no matter how small) in keeping themselves and other kids safe from harassment. Whether it’s stopping a stranger from touching their bodies or refusing unwanted hugs, these books help kids find the words to do so.
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16 Essential Picture Books to Teach Kids About Consent
Here are 16 great picture books about consent and bodily autonomy:
Yes! No!: A First Conversation About Consent
Published: August 16, 2022
Developed by experts in the fields of early childhood development and activism against injustice, this topic-driven book offers clear, concrete language and imagery to introduce the concept of consent. This book serves to normalize and celebrate the experience of asking for and being asked for permission to do something involving one’s body. It centers on respect for bodily autonomy, and reviews the many ways that one can say or indicate “No.”
While young children are avid observers and questioners of their world, adults often shut down or postpone conversations on complicated topics because it’s hard to know where to begin. Research shows that talking about issues like race, gender, and our bodies from the age of two not only helps children understand what they see, but also increases self-awareness, self-esteem, and allows them to recognize and confront things that are unfair, like discrimination and prejudice.
These books offer a supportive approach that considers both the child and the adult. Illustrative art accompanies the simple and interactive text, and the backmatter offers additional resources and ideas for extending this discussion.
Rissy No Kissies
Published: March 2, 2021
Rissy’s friends and family wonder if she’s sick, confused, or rude. But kisses make Rissy uncomfortable. Can one little lovebird show everyone that there’s no one right way to show you care?
Rissy No Kissies conveys that “your body and your heart are yours, and you choose how to share.” A note at the end provides further information for kids, parents, and educators about body autonomy, consent, and different ways to show affection.
Published: September 1, 2020
How many hugs is too many? This girl’s had enough! This humorous picture book explores compassion and the importance of setting boundaries.
After coughing up a hairball, a girl’s cat doesn’t feel well. So the girl offers to give her cat a hug, which makes the cat — and the girl — feel better. A dog notices and asks for a hug, too. Then some ducks come along asking for hugs. And a skunk . . . and a bear — and a porcupine! One animal after another comes asking the girl for a hug until she’s simply had enough. How much more of this can she take?
Charlene Chua has created a playful, funny picture book with an original premise, spare text, and wonderfully expressive illustrations. The story shows how important hugs can be to our happiness — even the most unlikely of creatures sometimes need one! — but that doesn’t mean they’re always welcome.
Can I Give You a Squish?
Published: June 9, 2020
Kai is a little mer-boy who’s big on hugs–or “squishes,” as he and his mama call them. But not everyone’s a fan of Kai’s spirited embrace, which he discovers soon after squishing a puffer fish, who swells up in fright! Kai feels awful; but with the help of his friends, he figures out another way to show his affection, and then everyone demonstrates their preferred ways of being greeted. Because, as Kai realizes, “Every fish likes their own kind of squish.”
I Can Say No
Published: February 22, 2021
I learned a little word,
And even though it’s small,
When I use it with authority,
I’m the strongest of them all!
That’s right. I can say NO.
I can say no to a movie I don’t like.
I can say no if I’m not into riding bikes.
I can say no if I want to be alone,
Or I’m feeling kind of tired and would rather stay at home.
As parents and educators, we often teach children to use the word “no” when they are in danger or when someone is trying to harm them. But “no” is powerful in other areas of life, as well. Learning to say “no” without feeling guilty or needing to explain themselves gives children the power to protect their boundaries, energy, convictions, and time. Saying “no” also allows them to create space for saying “yes” to the things that matter most. By teaching children how to use this small but mighty word, they will be able to face life with confidence, independence, and a positive sense of self-worth!
Don’t You Dare Touch Me There
Published: April 19, 2019
As a survivor of child molestation, it is very important for me that children know it is perfectly okay to decline touch, inappropriate or otherwise. In ‘Don’t You Dare Touch Me There’ our narrator, Sisi, does not like to be touched…at all. And, she is very adamant, yet polite about letting anyone who will listen know.
Don’t Hug Doug
Published: January 26, 2021
Doug doesn’t like hugs. He thinks hugs are too squeezy, too squashy, too squooshy, too smooshy. He doesn’t like hello hugs or goodbye hugs, game-winning home run hugs or dropped ice cream cone hugs, and he definitely doesn’t like birthday hugs. He’d much rather give a high five–or a low five, a side five, a double five, or a spinny five. Yup, some people love hugs; other people don’t. So how can you tell if someone likes hugs or not? There’s only one way to find out: Ask! Because everybody gets to decide for themselves whether they want a hug or not.
I Said No! A Kid-to-kid Guide to Keeping Private Parts Private
Published: January 25, 2020
Helping kids set healthy boundaries for their private parts can be a daunting and awkward task for parents, counselors and educators. Written from a kid’s point of view, I Said No! makes this task a lot easier. To help Zack cope with a real-life experience he had with a friend, he and his mom wrote a book to help prepare other kids to deal with a range of problematic situations. I Said No! uses kid-friendly language and illustrations to help parents and concerned adults give kids guidance they can understand, practice and use. Using a simple, direct, decidedly non-icky approach that doesn’t dumb down the issues involved, as well as an easy-to-use system to help kids rehearse and remember appropriate responses to help keep them safe, I Said No! covers a variety of topics, including: What’s appropriate and with whom. How to deal with inappropriate behavior, bribes and threats. When and where to go for help, and what to do if the people you’re turning to for help don’t listen. Dealing with feelings of guilt and shame. I Said No! is a Mom’s Choice Awards® Gold Recipient
Don’t Touch My Hair!
Published: November 6, 2018
It seems that wherever Aria goes, someone wants to touch her hair. In the street, strangers reach for her fluffy curls; and even under the sea, in the jungle, and in space, she’s chased by a mermaid, monkeys, and poked by aliens . . . until, finally, Aria has had enough!
NO Trespassing – This Is MY Body!
Published: August 10, 2016
Siblings Katie and her little brother Kyle learn about personal safety, private parts, and “thumbs up & thumbs down” touches by talking with their mom in a loving and easy-to-understand manner. With an empowering dialog that is never fearful, parents can use this book to begin this important discussion with their children. Katie and Kyle’s mom also explains the essential “No Secrets” rule in their family, and that it is never their fault if they get an “uh-oh feeling” from anyone.
C is for Consent
Published: April 30, 2018
Finn goes to a party with family and friends. His parents encourage him to make his own choices about receiving and offering physical affection. At the end of the story, Finn waits for consent before holding the hand of his female best friend.
Will Ladybug Hug?
Published: October 30, 2018
Meet Ladybug. Ladybug loves to hug! Now Ladybug is getting ready to go on a trip and wants to say good-bye to her friends. . . but will her friends want to receive a hug? Find out in this surprising and memorable storybook all about friendship, high-fives, consent, and of course, hugs.
No Means No!
Published: June 12, 2017
‘No Means No!’ is a children’s picture book about an empowered little girl who has a very strong and clear voice in all issues, especially those relating to her body and personal boundaries. This book can be read to children from 2 to 9 years. It is a springboard for discussions regarding children’s choices and their rights. The ‘Note to the Reader’ at the beginning of the book and the ‘Discussion Questions’ on the final pages, guide and enhance this essential discussion.
More Than Fluff
Published: March 9, 2021
Daisy happens to be fluffy–she’s a young chick after all. Her friends can’t help but want to pet her, squeeze her, and tell her how cute she is. But Daisy doesn’t want to be hugged or kissed. She’s not just fluff; Daisy has substance! But how can she tell everyone to give her some space without hurting their feelings?
A timely and funny book that encourages kids to establish and respect boundaries–perfect for reading aloud and shared story time!
Some Parts are NOT for Sharing
Published: January 13, 2009
Travel with a pair of friendly fish as they learn about what parts of our bodies we share with others. Children will learn what the boundaries of appropriate touching are in a very non-threatening way. School Counselor Julie Federico begins the imperative conversation of personal boundaries in Some Parts are not for Sharing.
Children will enjoy learning about their bodies as they get some important information from a pair of fish. Parents will marvel at the simple straightforward language and use of sea creatures that create this message all children must hear.
We Listen to Our Bodies
Body awareness is a key foundation of consent. We Listen to Our Bodies gives children a vocabulary to understand and communicate their feelings, develop personal boundaries, and build their social and emotional skills.
Through body awareness and recognizing how emotions physically manifest, young children can listen to their bodies for clues about how they’re feeling. Their bodies might feel shaky when worried or like one big sigh when calm and relaxed. By recognizing that physical sensations are trying to communicate something, children can understand when they feel unsafe, calm, or in need of healthy touch.
We Listen to Our Bodies follows Deja and her preschool classmates as they learn to build emotional self-awareness by listening to the physical cues of their bodies. Using the book as a read-aloud, educators and families can model the language Deja’s teachers use to support children as they learn body awareness. The author, who hosts workshops and trainings on teaching consent for families and early childhood educators around the country, offers additional activities in the back of the book.
There they are: 16 of the best picture books about consent and autonomy. Which of these books have you read and loved? Which ones did I miss?
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