Consent (for Kids!): Boundaries, Respect, and Being in Charge of YOU

Little, Brown. Jan. 2020. 64p. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9780316457736.
Gr 2-5–Brian’s “Consent: It’s as Simple as Tea” video, which uses a cup of tea as a metaphor for sexual consent, went viral several years ago. Now the animator teaches children how to establish boundaries and speak up for themselves when they don’t want to be hugged (or tickled or tackled or pinched or pushed). Brian notes that respecting others begins with self-respect, and though consent is an essential part of sexuality, it’s also key to cultivating healthy friendships. The scenarios and analogies here sit comfortably within the scope of a child’s experience—you can decline if someone gives you a chewed-up French fry, for example. You might have to hold an adult’s hand when crossing a parking lot even though you don’t want to, but it’s fine to ask the adult to ease up on their grip. If you’ve agreed to let someone hurl pies at your face in the past, you can change your mind. You should say no if someone offers to show you an embarrassing photo of a friend. Though the book steers clear of explicit sexual content, Brian adds that pictures and videos should never be shared without the subject’s consent, and that taking and sending nude photos of children under 18 is a crime. Varied panel layouts and two-color cartoon art featuring appealing, blobby stick-figure characters keep the book lively.
VERDICT Brian takes on a potentially touchy subject with humor and clarity. This is a book that can be read in an hour, but its lessons should, and will, stay with readers for a lifetime.

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