It's never too early to teach children about consent. But that doesn't mean that it's easy. Sometimes, you need a little help when teaching children. What better way to aid learning than books? Children's books that teach the importance of consent should be on every child's shelf.
Think about when you learned the phrase "no means no." Does it seem as though it's always been ingrained in you? Do you remember your parents teaching you about it? For me, it's just something I've always known. My parents were adamant about the importance of consent before I can remember. Consent is more than a sexual concept. Though it's what we think of most as adults, consent to children can be as simple as asking to please stop tickling. It's so important that kids learn from a young age that they have a right to speak up about what they do, and do not want, especially when it comes to their bodies.
By framing consent in a way that makes things clear for children, you're setting the groundwork for them to be able to navigate future situations without hesitations. Everyone has the right to choose when it comes to their bodies. Everyone has the right to set boundaries. Just because you're not comfortable with sitting down and talking to your child about sexual assault doesn't mean you can't still teach them about consent. With the help of the following books, the conversation becomes an easy and fluid one, where boundaries, respect, and consent become an every day conversation.
1. 'Sex Is A Funny Word' by Cory Silverberg And Fiona Smyth
Sex Is a Funny Word is a book that opens up the possibility of conversations between young people and those who take care of them. It allows adults to convey their beliefs, while providing children information about joy, safety, the importance of consent, and what boundaries mean.
2. 'No Means No!' by Jayneen Sanders
No Means No stars an empowered young girl as the main character. She has a strong voice when it comes to her body and her personal boundaries. Through the book, children learn the importance of personal boundaries, consent, and respect.
3. 'Your Body Belongs To You' by Cornelia Maude Spelman
In very simple language, this book conveys to children that their bodies are his or her own. That it's okay for kids to decline hugs and kisses, even from people they love, and that you can still form a friendship, even if you don't want to be hugged or kissed right now. Reassuring and easy to understand, Your Body Belongs To You teaches consent in all the right ways.
4. 'Do You Have A Secret?' by Jennifer Moore-Malinos
Kids have secrets. But how do they learn to differentiate between fun secrets, and secrets that make them feel bad? Do You Have a Secret? helps children differentiate between these things, and helps them learn when they need to share their secret with a parent or another trusted person in their lives. Part of the Tell Somebody series, this book encourages children to talk about things, even when they feel ashamed or worried.
5. 'I Said No!' by Kimberly King
Using a simple and direct approach that doesn't lessen the importance of the issues involved, I Said No! creates an easy-to-use system to help kids remember appropriate responses when they find themselves in situations that make them uncomfortable.