written by Katey Howes, 4/2021
updated by Melissa Taylor 10/2023
Kids Books About Consent
When we hear the word “consent,” we often think about dating and romantic relationships, but consent doesn’t start — or end — there. And now we have excellent kids’ books about consent. But first, more about what consent actually is…
Consent is centered around two basic ideas. One: that each person has the right to make their own decisions about their own body. And two: that we all respect one another’s decisions.
Healthy relationships of all types — with friends, teachers, parents, and siblings — are founded on this mutual respect. We can begin teaching that respect to young children with books that model the ABCs of Respect: Autonomy, Boundaries, and Consent.
Using a mix of stories written specifically to educate with picture books made to entertain (while still reinforcing these important themes) is a great way to build key skills for safe and healthy relationships. Pick one or more from each letter to curate a Consent Storytime experience that’s right for your family, class, or group.
Children’s Books About Consent
A is for Books About Autonomy: These books carry the message that your body is your own. (body autonomy)
Little Red Henry by Linda Urban, illustrated by Madeline Valentine
In this adorable and hilarious story, read about a boy named Henry whose family treats him like a baby. But he’s a big boy who wants independence. A twist on the familiar Little Red Hen story, this will show a boy’s big day of independence.
We Listen To Our Bodies by Lydia Bowers, illustrated by Isabel Muñoz
How do your feelings feel in your body? What clues do your body give you? Shakiness? Sighs of calm? When children learn to listen to their body’s signals, it’s helpful to their social and emotional skills as well as knowing the value of your own body.
Miles is the Boss of His Body by Samantha Kutzman Counter and Abbie Schiller
It’s Miles’s 6th birthday! He’s excited until he gets hugged and pinched and tickled by his family. So he declares that he’s the boss of his body and sets body safety boundaries.
My Body! What I Say Goes! by Jayneen Sanders, illustrated by Anna Hancock
In this book, children will learn about body safety, warning signs, correct names for private parts, safe and unsafe touch, and secrets and surprises.
B is for Books About Boundaries: These books teach that it’s ok to set limits, speak up, and say no.
Rissy No Kissies by Katey Howes
Rissy doesn’t like kisses from her family and friends. How can she help her loved ones understand that she gets to pick how to receive affection and love?
Don’t Touch My Hair! by Sharee Miller
Aria loves her hair but doesn’t love when people touch it. She hides in all sorts of fantastical places — a castle, outer space, underwater. Soon, Aria gets lonely and goes home. The next time someone touches her hair, she says, “Don’t touch my hair.” When people ask, Aria feels comfortable saying either no or yes. What a beautiful book to help children learn about respectful boundaries.
Leave Me Alone by Vera Brosgol
Any harried mother will relate totally to this grandmother’s never-ending struggle to be LEFT ALONE! She just wants to finish knitting her grandchildren sweaters for the winter. In peace. Even in the woods, she’s not left alone. Finally, she finally finds a quiet, dark place to finish her knitting. And then returns to gift her family with her loving work. Funny and quite sweet.
Connor Kissed Me written by Zehava, illustrated by Sarah K. Turner
When Connor plants a kiss on Miriam, she’s surprised and shocked. She tells one adult after another, but their reactions are not helpful (we’ll move your seat, go play somewhere else, puppy love) until her mother asks, “Did you want him to?” And, no, Miriam didn’t want him to kiss her! So, her mother encourages her to say that to Connor. In reverse order, she tells the adults and finally tells Connor clearly: “I don’t want you to kiss me.” Not only is this a helpful book to introduce consent, but it’s also a reminder to adults to support a child’s boundaries and body safety with actionable answers.
Hug? by Charlene Chua
Sometimes, there’s such a thing as TOO many hugs! A fun and funny picture book shows that hugs are great but not always welcome.
C is for Books About Consent: These books reinforce that we ask and we listen before touching others.
Drake the Super-Excited Overeager, In-Your-Face Snake by Michaele Razi
Drake loves surprising his friends with exciting games and giving big hugs. But not everyone likes his hugs or his surprises. So they tell him what they’re feeling. First, Drake ignores their request, so they talk to him again about asking and boundaries. And Drake stops to ask before he surprises them with any games or hugs. This is a cute book about consent.
Don’t Hug the Quokka! by Daniel Errico, illustrated by Mia Powell
A simple story with an important point! Quokka wants his personal space and NO HUGS. So, ask first, and usually, the answer will be no, but maybe it will be yes sometimes…
Benny Doesn’t Like To Be Hugged by Zetta Elliot
Benny is seemingly autistic. His friend describes him. He likes trains and stars and cupcakes without sprinkles, but he doesn’t like hugs. And that’s okay!
Can I Give You A Squish? by Emily Neilson
A merboy learns to respect people’s physical boundaries (no squishes). This book will be useful in classrooms to teach respecting boundaries.
Don’t Hug Doug (He Doesn’t Like It) by Carrie Finison, illustrated by Daniel Wiseman
Doug thinks hugs are too smooshy and squashy. He prefers high-fives to hugs, even low fives or spinny fives. This story reminds readers that the best way to know what someone prefers is to ask.
Will Ladybug Hug? by Hilary Leung
Ladybug hugs–but do her friends like hugs as much as her? She’ll have to find out!
About Katey Howes
Katey Howes is the author of Rissy No Kissies, which Kirkus calls “…an artistic gem for consent discussions, sensory-processing contexts, and anyone who champions children’s agency and bodily autonomy.” Her earlier books include Be A Maker, which was named the #1 Makerspace Read Aloud of 2019, and Magnolia Mudd and the Super Jumptastic Launcher Deluxe, a highly-rated girl-powered #STEM picture book. A former physical therapist, current mom of three ravenous readers, and life-long geek, Katey loves combining fact and fiction, fun and learning through her books and blog posts. Visit her website www.kateyhowes.com for plenty of printable lesson plans and activities, or follow her on Twitter or Instagram @kidlitlove to learn more.
Note from Melissa:
Thank you so much, Katey! Readers, you will LOVE Katey’s new book, Rissy No Kissies. It’s exceptionally written and SO important for ALL children to understand that a person (or bird) gets to decide how to show and receive affection and love — whether or not they are okay with physical touches like hugs and kisses. Follow along on Instagram where I’ll be posting a giveaway of Rissy No Kissies!
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