Guest Post: Consent and Children’s Books

Former academic and game designer turned librarian (and parent to a horde of minions), Clay Chiment has spent the better part of her life reading and falling down rabbit holes. This post was inspired by a story time selection about consent for young children. 

Consent is sexy, but when it comes to children’s literature consent is colorful, creative, and more and more common. If you have small ones at home or are an honorary adult in a child’s life, check out these board books and picture books that model age appropriate ways to ask for, and give, the respect everyone deserves.

Will Ladybug Hug?
A | BN | K
For the smallest hands grab a copy of Will Ladybug Hug? By Hilary Leung. The artwork is simple, the pages are uncluttered, and the question/answer format lets even the littlest littles anticipate and join in the fun of asking each friend in turn if they would like a hug. There are several books in this series so if you enjoy Ladybug make sure you look for the others!

For those who are ready for a touch of dramatic tension in their board book, grab Huggy the Python Hugs too Hard by Ame Dyckman. Huggy loves to squeeze but sometimes a tight hug isn’t appreciated. This book is more interactive, with the reader participating in demonstrating a gentle touch for Huggy and celebrating each success along the way. The artwork is colorful and Huggy is an extremely dapper python but if a child is afraid of snakes…give this one a pass!

Picture books are fantastic for any age, and if you have an opinionated little one running about give More Than Fluff by Madeline Valentine a try. This book follows the adventures of Daisy, a very fluffy little chick who wants to be taken seriously by her community. While the language might be a little too “direct” for some readers (as she learns to express her boundaries, Daisy responds to the announcement that it is time for her daily cuddle with “Actually, it’s time for you to give me some personal space”) this picture book covers important ground when it comes to apologizing and making amends for those times when overstimulation causes unintentional hurt, and the ways in which Daisy learns to connect to each member of her community provide a wonderful framework for future discussions.

Rissy No Kissies
A | BN | K
If you’re looking for a more traditional rhyming read aloud, Rissy No Kissies by Katey Howes is a bouncy book perfect for sensitive kiddos who need a little support when it comes to exploring boundaries. Rissy is a Lovebird, but she doesn’t like kisses (and we know from the text that all lovebirds love kisses).

Rissy’s family and friends wonder if Rissy is rude, or mean, or sick but with reassurances from her adults, Rissy comes to celebrate the ways in which she enjoys expressing and receiving affection. This is a great book for teaching body autonomy, but also for reassuring a child who feels different from their peers for whatever reason.

The stories on this list all explore ideas of sharing and consent in different ways from different points of view. Not every story will be a good fit for every child so pre-reading is key. Your local librarian can help you find a perfect match!

Board Books:

Huggy the Python Hugs Too Hard by Ame Dyckman ( A | BN | K )
Will Ladybug Hug? by Hilary Leung ( A | BN | K )
Yes! No! (a first conversation about consent) by Megan Madison ( A | BN | K )
May We Have Enough to Share by Richard Van Camp ( A | BN | K )

Picture Books:

Hug? by Charlene Chua ( A | BN | K )
Don’t Hug Doug (he doesn’t like it) by Carrie Finison ( A | BN | K )
Nobody Hugs a Cactus by Carter Goodrich ( A | BN | K | AB )
Rissy No Kissies by Katey Howes ( A | BN | K )
You Know How to Love by Rachel Tawil Kenyon ( A | BN | K )
Miles is the Boss of His Body by Abbie Schiller and Samantha Kurtzman-Counter ( A | BN )
Don’t Touch My Hair by Sharee Miller ( A | BN | K )
More Than Fluff by Madeline Valentine ( A | BN | K )
The Perfect Hug by Joanna Walsh ( A | BN | K )

Action Books:

Let’s talk about body boundaries, consent & respect by Janeen Sanders ( A | BN )
Consent (for Kids!): boundaries, respect, and being in charge of YOU by Rachel Brian ( A | BN | K )



General Bitching...

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  1. Maite says:

    “Will Ladybug hug?” is precious to me. (Librarian friends who rec you books are awesome friends!)

  2. Jodi says:

    Thanks for this list! I have a 3 1/2 year old nephew and a 3 month old nephew, and these will be great gifts to help teach them agency and how to respect others. 🙂

  3. Jane says:

    This blog post makes me so happy. I don’t have children and wasn’t aware of books about consent for children.

  4. Ksana says:

    Yes! So important, much appreciated.

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