Thursday, April 9, 2020

Consent for Kids

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Consent (for Kids!): Boundaries, Respect, and Being in Charge of YOU by Rachel Brian. Grades 1-5. Little, Brown, 2020. 64 pages. Review copy provided by my local library. 

This is such a needed book that I read it and I'm immediately going to buy copies for all the special kids in my life. This is not a book that I would probably book talk, but it's a book that I would press into the hands of parents and teachers to use it with their kids to start conversations about what consent and respect means. Kids need to have access to this book, kids need to have this book lying around where they can discover it. Families may want to read this book together. This is a must-read and a must-buy for library and classroom shelves.

Written in a cute, funny graphic novel style, the book brings humor into a serious subject, making it fun and taking away the didactic tendency books on this topic can so easily slide into. A cast of largely gender neutral cartoon kids clearly explain what consent is, that friendships need to be based on mutual respect, how to assert yourself with other people (kids and adults), and what to do if someone violates your boundaries or you see someone violating someone else's boundaries.

This book covers a ton of topics, including some sticky ones like bodily autonomy when you're a child and there are some things that adults can make you do for safety. Examples are holding hands to cross a busy parking lot or getting a shot at the doctor's office. Author Rachel Brian talks a lot about boundaries and I especially like that she provides lots of examples of when boundaries can change and she emphasizes that it's okay to change your mind. She also provides examples of clear consent and hesitant or unsure consent. She explains that you need to get clear consent from a person and "If you're not sure, it's a NO".

At the very end of the book, Brian provides information for contacting the National Child Abuse Hotline for kids who feel unsafe or have had their boundaries crossed. 

Any kid could grow into someone who might hurt someone else or who might be hurt. Teaching consent from an early age can make a huge difference. And further than that, we need to be practicing consent, too. When I was a storytime librarian I made it very clear that no child needed to hug me (although I personally was okay with hugs from kids who wanted to give them). A high five was always offered and if a kid didn't feel like giving a high five, that was okay, too.

Go forth and buy this book for your library shelves!