'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.' - author Jackie French

Friday, 7 July 2017

Review: My Body Belongs to Me

My Body Belongs to Me is a simple and direct text for children from ages three and up, that aims to teach basic body protection skills.

Though the letter to parents at the beginning of the book suggests that it is a resource for up to eight years old, the language and the tone is better suited to younger readers, and I would recommend looking for a more complex book for ages 6 and up.

After briefly discussing a child's ownership of their own body and the difference between the parts that everyone can see (such as elbows and knees) and those that are private, the story then moves to a situation where the child is touched inappropriately by a friend of a family member. After this interaction, the story focuses on the child disclosing this inappropriate behaviour to their parent or teacher. There is some discussion around how the interaction might make the child feel but it is minimal and really only glosses over the basics.

The illustrations are quite calm and neutral, with diverse characters portrayed throughout the story. While this calm approach does create an opportunity to discuss this difficult topic without frightening young readers, the story appears to miss out on a few essential points. There is no discussion of the proper names for private body parts and there is no empowerment of the child character to say 'no' or 'stop' when the inappropriate behaviour occurs.

While the suggestions at the back of the book do encourage parents and caregivers to cover these points, it seems remiss to have them left out of the story and I think that there are more comprehensive titles available that manage to convey this information in a sensitive and approachable manner.

For more titles on this topic, see our KBR list Terrific 10: Body Protection.

Title: My Body Belongs to Me
Author: Jill Starishevsky
Illustrator: Angela Padron
Publisher: Free Spirit Publishing, $25.99
Publication Date: 10 April 2014
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9781575424613
For ages: 3 - 8
Type: Picture Book, Body Protection

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