Tired of the endless waves of sexual assault news, I felt compelled to write a book for my young son titled C IS FOR CONSENT. I'm done with the Weinsteins and Lauers of the world, and ready to turn the tide for the next generation!
I have the amazing Faye Orlove on board for illustrations, but we need YOUR HELP to get this printed and out into the world.
Description: A young boy navigates a gathering of relatives and friends. His parents encourage him to make his own choices about whether to receive and offer physical affection. At the end he replicates the lesson he's learned and waits for consent before holding the hand of his female best friend.
Ages: 0-3+, with role-play learning for both child and caregiver. The lesson will not be absorbed by a months-old baby, but toddlers will start understanding, and parents like me want to set the groundwork for future conversations.
Format: Board book, ready to endure the abuse of teething babies and rough toddlers. The only books I’ve found on this subject have paper pages and are for kids 3-12 years old. As a mom of a 9 month old, those books are too flimsy, long, and complex for my child. It is so important to have something on this subject accessible to the youngest audience, for both the children and the parents!
Specs: 14 pages (16 including cover and back), 5.625 x 5.625 inches
Character choices: While I am typically drawn toward female protagonists, I felt this must feature a boy because consent cannot be seen as a girls-only concern. I decided to name and model the character after my own son, Finn. I chose to keep the character white because white boys become white men who institutionally experience tremendous privilege, and I want to fully engage that audience so they grow up to wield that power responsibly.
The character’s best friend, Ru, is a black girl because (1) I want to include a female character modeling consent, (2) boys and girls can be friends, and (3) it helps children's instinctual in-grouping to see that their friends do not have to look like them.
Parent bonus: By including active parent characters, this book familiarizes parent readers with setting boundaries when grandparents or friends demand hugs from the child or try to plant kisses without asking. Speaking from personal experience, it can be awkward territory to navigate. I look forward to reading something to my child that helps ingrain useful responses in myself.
Additionally, simply having the book around can be a conversation starter to help you communicate with well-meaning adults about not forcing affection from your child.
Grandma wants a hug, but Finn isn't in the mood. (IMAGE: Grandma reaching out, Finn looking unsure.)
"That's okay," says Dad. "You don't have to give anyone a hug if you don't feel like it!" (IMAGE: Dad with his hand on Finn's back. Finn looking up at him.)
Status: Illustrations are incomplete. This Kickstarter will allow us to finish illustrations, get the first batch of books printed, and deliver to supporters. The more we raise, the more copies we can print and make widely available.
Note that I'm planning to work with a US printer, which makes costs higher than usual board books (almost all board books are manufactured in China). If the aim of this book is to engage thoughtful parents, I feel that we must be thoughtful about our sourcing.
Future potential: If this book is successful and there is interest, I would enjoy expanding this into a “Phonics with Finn” series. Next up could be “F is for Feminism” (where his friend Ru teaches Finn that boys can and should be feminists) or “R is for Race” (based on research, race should be openly talked about with young kids, especially white children who often do not experience race in the same way as others and aren’t helped by color-blind style approaches).
Risks and challenges
Despite recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics and recent publicity efforts by the Girl Scouts, many people still feel that making their kid hug grandma is harmless. Unfortunately, doing so teaches kids that (1) what happens to your body is not always up to you, and (2) it is okay to push other people to do things with their body that they don't want to do. Yes, most of us love hugs from adorable children, and it feels nice to encourage that connection between your child and another person. But we can and should be more thoughtful about allowing our children to decide if it is also a positive experience for them! Faye and I are hopeful there’s an audience out there for this book right now, and that the audience will grow over time as norms shift.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)