Little Miss Teacher Blog

By Clara Fiorentini

Friday, 20 November 2020

Books about consent for children

 Image Credits: Blouin Artinfo

This is a topic I've received queries about over the past few days. We have a lot of progress to make in our little country when it comes to consent. As parents, educators and society there are many simple but significant efforts we can make to begin changing attitudes, norms and behaviours. For any notable change to come about, we have to start from the roots up - we need to include how we communicate with children about consent in our efforts towards making change happen. 

Like any subject, topic or theme, there is always some form of children's literature to support. This post contains some suggestions of useful texts for approaching the topic of consent with children - in a safe, direct, developmentally appropriate manner. 

On today, World Children's Day, I think it appropriate to pause and think about how we as a society can help the next generation in succeeding when it comes to consent? How can we help the next generations to come, avoid the pitfalls and murkiness of those before them? We only have to look to headlines of this past week to see that little has changed and urgent progress is required.

Conversations become difficult if we avoid them and let them become ignored. Ignoring the topic ensures it become the elephant in the room. The topic of consent is something that needs to be discussed and dealt with EARLY. When I say early, I mean early years, early childhood! Toddlers can be taught about consent appropriately. So can young children. Normalising conversations about bodies and appropriate touch and physical behaviours only means that it's an accessible topic throughout childhood. If we want to build environments of trust we need to let children know that conversation and questions are accessible, allowed and important. By ignoring these opportunities to educate children on consent from a young age, we're setting them up to fail, setting them up to be unprepared in dealing with issues surrounding consent, no matter how big or small they may be or seem.

A way to make discussions about consent normal is by bringing the topic into our book choices. There are some excellent texts out there and if you thinking of sourcing some, check out a read aloud version on YouTube first to see if it will suit.

My recommendations for children's books about consent:

1. For discussions around personal space, Harrison P. Spader Personal Space Invader is excellent. Suitable for the infants right up to the senior classes, it is a great text for drawing awareness to how we can be respectful and conscious of personal space.

Miles is the Boss of his Body by Samantha Kutetzman-Counter & Abbie Schiller is text which really cleverly deals with the frustrations of unwanted touch and how to communicate when hugs, squeezes, tickles and pinches are not what we want or appreciate. Again, another text that could be used right across the primary school.

Will Ladybug Hug? by Hilary Leung is aimed at babies and toddlers and is perfect for laying down foundational thoughts and understandings about hugs. The text is also perfectly useful for the preschool and infant classes too as the way in which the text is presented allows for lots of prediction, lots of talk and lots of discussion.

Hands Off, Harry by Rosemary Wells is a brilliant text for drawing awareness to how sometimes our physical actions can upset or annoy our classmates. Another great book for the infant classes to develop an awareness of respecting the physical and personal space of others.

C is for Consent by Eleanor Morrison is another text that was designed and aimed at children in early childhood however the language, the message and even the illustrations are perfectly applicable right across the primary school again. We want messages to be clear and direct so it's important we pick texts that are straightforward. Definitely one for your book armoury.

Personal Space Camp by Julia Cook is a cleverly crafted text all about comfort bubbles and personal space. Ideal for the middle and senior classes in primary school. 

Many of us make wonderful efforts to include rich children's literature right across all learning topics and themes. There's no reason why they can't help in developing children's awareness of consent too. Of course, books like these can't be for 'once off' read alouds, they need to be visible in our libraries, accessible and encouraged.

2020 has been the year of 'the new normal', let's make catering for comfortable conversations with children about consent part of that new normal too.


No comments

Post a comment

Blogger Template by pipdig