“Many books have been written about body safety (Bad touch! Stranger danger!), focusing specifically on preventing abuse or recognizing unsafe sexual contact,” Bowers told HuffPost. “Consent, however, is not just about sexual assault but encompasses many aspects ― relationships, self-image, empathy, and responsibility. These safety and abuse books are important, but I wanted something that could sit on a classroom bookshelf and could teach consent before and, ideally, in the prevention of abuse.”
“We Listen to Our Bodies” is the first installment in a series of children’s books focusing on consent issues that are part of everyday life. Each will be based on one of the five steps of consent that she teaches families and educators: 1. I listen to my body. 2. I am in charge of my body. 3. I ask permission. 4. I check in. 5. I accept no.
“This series covers consent themes like recognizing the physical sensations our emotions create, looking for body language cues in ourselves and others, taking responsibility for our actions, and knowing that our bodies have value,” Bowers said.
The author hopes her books will be a helpful addition to family and classroom bookshelves and make conversations about consent “fun and accessible.”
“As consent conversations have increased in society, so have the number and variety of children’s books,” she said. “Then with the pandemic affecting the world, things such as personal space and alternative ways to greet people have taken on additional focus.”
With help from Bowers, HuffPost put together a list of books that aim to help young people understand consent and bodily autonomy. Read on for 16 more options for kids and teens.
"This features a merboy that learns not everyone likes to be hugged the way he does," Bowers said. "The author/illustrator, Emily Neilson, even has downloads that tie the book directly into pandemic-era greeting alternatives, at emilyneilson.com ." (Available here)
"This was an instant favorite in my house — the giggles that erupt when we read about only hugging on Tuesdays," Bowers said. "It shows that people like different kinds of greetings, and people don’t all feel the same way about hugs!" (Available here)
"Rissy is an adorable lovebird whose family is confused by her not wanting kisses!" Bowers said. "Ultimately they support her and validate that not everyone wants to receive affection in the same way." (Available here)
"Consent (For Kids!)"
Little, Brown And Company
"Do you remember the Tea & Consent videos that went viral a while back?" Bowers said. "One of the co-creators of that wrote this book for kids. It’s comic/graphic novel style, so perfect for those older elementary kiddos." (Available here)
While not explicitly meant for young readers, "Sex Positive Talks to Have With Kids" is a resource to guide parents and caregivers as they discuss topics like bodies, consent, relationships, sex and more with their children. (Available here)