Monday, 13 June 2016

Picture books and trying to help instil greater empathy, taking responsibility and understanding of consent from a young age. Thoughts in the wake of the Stanford sexual assault case by Juliet Clare Bell


“Even if the sentence is light, hopefully this will wake people up,” she said. “I want the judge to know that he ignited a tiny fire. If anything, this is a reason for all of us to speak even louder.”

I’m going out on a limb a bit today. I will bring it back to picture books at the end, because

"Reading fiction... gives us the ability to feel empathy for people we've never met, living lives we couldn't possibly experience for ourselves, because the book puts us inside the character's skin," Ann Patchett

but I want to talk about something  I’ve been thinking about a lot this week: the powerful impact statement written and read out by a woman at the sentencing hearing  for a young man in the US who sexually assaulted her. Found guilty of three serious offences and never admitting his guilt, the perpetrator was given a six-month sentence.

This is my attempt at speaking even louder, bearing in mind that this is a picture book site…

The story surrounding this case has really struck a chord with me. There were definitely some similarities between the woman’s story and my own. I too was subjected to “twenty minutes of action” (as the father referred to his son’s behaviour in the current case) which also turned my whole world upside down; I was rescued by two strangers who chased after and caught/helped the police catch the perpetrator even before I was picked up and taken off to The Rape Suite for a night of invasive examinations, blood tests, injections and endless questioning. And my attacker also claimed not to have any recollection of the incident (having been high on drugs). But the similarities end there.

People of my age can probably remember the Chris Morris Brass Eye black comedy sketch about ‘Good Aids’ (those who contracted HIV through infected blood transfusions) and ‘Bad Aids’ (from homosexual sex). Well, so it seems that for some people there’s ‘Good Rape/Assault’ and ‘Bad Rape/Assault’. ‘Good’ involves a stranger, the victim wearing dowdy clothes and having drunk no alcohol and taken no drugs. Oh, and definitely not being a prostitute. ‘Bad’, on the other hand, involves a woman having drunk alcohol/taken drugs, knowing or having at least met the perpetrator, the woman wearing ‘provocative’ clothes, and/or quite possibly, being sexual promiscuous or even a prostitute. But both the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ involve a man raping/assaulting a woman (or man)...

My experience definitely fell into the ‘good’ category. Even whilst I was in shock and being examined by the police doctor that night, I was aware of the unfairness of the system as the doctor reassured me that it was a very good thing –as long as the tests backed up my statement, of course- as I’d not drunk any alcohol or taken any drugs. And I’d clearly been wearing dowdy clothes (including my great aunt’s unfashionable, but warm, coat) as I walked home –I could see they believed I hadn’t been ‘asking for it’. “Most of the women I examine are prostitutes,” said the doctor, conspiratorially. Even then, I felt the unfairness of being treated with a respect that other women probably weren’t getting.

Why should it have mattered if I had been drinking? (I might well have drunk –I’d been at a social event, but for some reason I can’t remember I happen not to have drunk anything that night.) Why should it have changed anything if I’d been dressed up? And why should someone attacking me have been less serious if I had been a prostitute?

Although my attacker entered a plea of not guilty whilst on remand (because he claimed he couldn’t remember the event), he changed his plea on the day of the court case. As a result, the judge reduced his sentence (for not putting me through the trauma of a court case -and also because of the defendant’s own traumatic childhood), from about nine years, to five. This is the judge for whom the police had a nickname because he was so lenient (they warned me in court when they saw who it was that the sentence would probably be much shorter than they’d predicted). So a substantially reduced sentence by a judge deemed to be lenient, of five years -compared with six months in the Stanford case. There were no family members arguing the case for my attacker (on the contrary, his step family came to the initial hearing and told my then boyfriend that he should ‘do him over’ for them, and at the final hearing, they clapped when he was sentenced), and he wasn't at university or a strong athlete (he was of no fixed abode and not athletic).

I could talk about the difference in our cases in terms of closure for me, and lack of closure for the woman in the current case –where I wrote to my perpetrator in prison (as did my brother) and he wrote back absolutely accepting full responsibility, saying ‘I was nothing more than an animal and I should have been put down for what I did to you’ and that he’d never cried till he read my letter, and how he’d since decided to take anger management courses in prison even though it meant he’d stay in longer; and how he’d requested to go to a half-way house on his release so he would be supervised. And that he promised that he’d never come back to the city in which he had attacked me so that I could be confident I would never bump into him. This, compared with the current case where the attacker has not accepted any guilt. The turn of events after the attack for me, down to my treatment by the police, the judge, even the defence barrister, as well as the perpetrator admitting full responsibility and being extremely remorseful, made it all much easier to move on from. 
But that’s not what this post is about.

I wanted to say something about consent, which is what so much of this boils down to. No one was ever going to argue over whether I had consented –I was followed home by a stranger and he was caught literally red-handed (with mostly his own blood from the weapon he’d been holding). I had been asked loads of questions about my sexual history but as they’d established this was never going to be a case of whether I’d given consent or not, I’d not felt worried about those questions being used against me in court. But how grim that the same answers might have been used against another woman where consent could be questioned.

I know many women who have been sexually assaulted by men –almost all of them men that they knew –boyfriends, acquaintances, family members. As far as I know, I am the only one who actually went to the police –out of all the people I know who have been assaulted. And as well as fear, this has a lot to do with knowing how incredibly hard it is to get a conviction for someone when lack of consent may be questioned.

So, consent. There’s a great video used by Thames Valley police about consent

Animation courtesy of Emmeline May at rockstardinosaurpirateprincess.com and Blue Seat Studios. Copyright © 2015

But this is not a video to show to young children. So what can we do as picture book authors and illustrators to help children understand about consent and taking responsibility, and empathy from a young age? (And I’m not saying that the man in question in the current case would have done anything differently had he read certain picture books as a child –I don’t know the man and I’m not going to comment on his family here.)

Research is clear that reading stories helps children become more empathic.

Here's an article from the Guardian on the benefits of reading for empathy: http://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/2015/may/13/reading-teach-children-empathy

"Fiction is not just a simulator of a social experience, it is a social experience," writes psychologist  David Comer Kidd, whose paper, Reading Literary Fiction Improves Theory of Mind was published in Science in 2013.

And again:

"Reading fiction... gives us the ability to feel empathy for people we've never met, living lives we couldn't possibly experience for ourselves, because the book puts us inside the character's skin," Ann Patchett.


We need picture books with diverse characters so that all people can see themselves in some books and all people can get a sense of how it might be to be someone else in other books.



So Much (c) Trish Cooke and Helen Oxenbury



Siddarth and Rinki (c) Addy Farmer and Karin Littlewood


We need strong female characters


That Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown (c) Cressida Cowell and Neal Layton



(A video showing a reading of Emily Brown...)




The Kite Princess (c) Juliet Clare Bell and Laura-Kate Chapman



and strong male characters
                             
Oliver Who Was Small But Mighty (c) Mara Bergman and Nick Maland

including ones who do not conform to male stereotypes


Marshall Armstrong is New to Our School (c) David Mackintosh


Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress (c) Christine Baldacchino and Isabelle Malenfant



We need good picture books about friendship and compassion;

                                         

That's What Friends Do (c) Kathryn Cave and Nick Maland


(and a video reading of it)

about compromise

Best Friends or Not? (c) Paeony Lewis and Gaby Hansen

Simple kindness

Extra Yarn (c) Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen



Charlie is My Darling (c) Malachy Doyle and Stephen Lambert


How Kind! (c) Mary Murphy


(and a fab reading of How Kind!)

about unconditional love


No Matter What (c) Debi Gliori

and about accepting people for who they are.


Dandylion (c) Lizzie Finlay

We need picture books with LGBT characters



King and King (c) Linda de Haan  and Stern Nijland


And Tango Makes Three (c) Justin Richardson, Peter Parnell and Henry Cole

And see this Guardian article for more LGBT picture books


We need books with children with disabilities that aren’t about their disabilities


The Unstoppable Maggie McGee (c) Juliet Clare Bell and Dave Gray

We need picture books about bullies and people who are being bullied; standing up to bullies and taking responsibility for your own bad behaviour towards other people...






Little Rabbit Foo Foo (c) Michael Rosen and Arthur Robins


(and a video of it)

Something Else (c) Kathryn Cave and Chris Riddell


(and a video of it)



and about doing the right thing even when it’s not the easy option



Those Shoes (c) Maribeth Boelts and Noah Z Jones

and about never taking advantage of your greater physical strength to get something from someone without their consent or permission...

only I can't think of a book that does this. Does anyone know of one I can add in here? Please let me know in the comments, below...

And we need books that show how even the small actions of one person can have big consequences for another person, good or bad (humorous over the top books that make us think about cause and effect are really valuable)...


Mouse Creeps (c) Peter Harris and Reg Cartwright


If You Give a Mouse a Cookie (c) Laura Joffe Numeroff and Felicia Bond


There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight (c) Penny Parker Klosterman and Ben Mantle

There Was a Wee Lassie Who Swallowed a Midgie (c) Rebecca Colby and Kate McLelland

And we need books that show the folly of a misguided sense of entitlement.



Louis I King of Sheep (c) Olivier Tallac


The Tiger Who Would be King (c) James Thurber and Jodhee Yoon

We need books that show children that teasing that is not actively being enjoyed by the subject of the teasing is neither funny nor ok –whether it’s coming from adults or other children. It is categorically not funny if the person in question does not find it funny. This is a really important lesson for understanding consent (can anyone think of a picture book that touches on this?).  And we need books about inspirational people. In my author visits for Two Brothers and a Chocolate Factory: the Remarkable Story of Richard and George Cadbury (illustrated by Jess Mikhail), we look at what George and Richard did to improve the lives of other people in the community and we discuss what we can do, individually and collectively, to have a positive impact on the people around us.



Two Brothers and a Chocolate Factory: The Remarkable Story of Richard and George Cadbury (c) Juliet Clare Bell and Jess Mikhail.

There are many, many picture books that help children to empathise with others, and see the consequences of their actions -and see these posts for more recommendations, and this one, this one from Scholastic,  and this excellent list from Book Trust,

-but let's keep making more. Moreover, we need for them to be read by people who may not be picking up these messages from their own environments. So we need our libraries and our librarians and our enthusiastic teachers and educators.


Books alone aren’t going to stop all terrible things happening to people at the hands of other people. But we can play our small part in helping children become more empathic, have more personal responsibility and understand that no means no.

Which picture books would you recommend for encouraging empathy/compassion/respect in the reader? Please leave any recommended books in the comments section below.

Thank you.


Juliet Clare Bell 

51 comments:

  1. A very courageous and moving post, Clare. It can't have been easy to write, but thank you for doing it – there is so much here that is worth "speaking even louder" about.

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    1. Thank you, Jonathan. Right now, it feels like the world could do with a little (no, a lot) more empathy. There are lots of things that we can't do, but there are plenty we can, no matter how small. And that includes finding ways to engage disengaged readers as you have talked about with different kinds of picture books for boys. I used to volunteer for the Samaritans in a Category A prison. The levels of disengagement with reading and high levels of illiteracy was very apparent. And it was very connected to their feelings of disengagement from society. Keep going with your push for certain kinds of books, Jonathan!

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    2. The 'Nature and Nurture' essay on my Cool Not Cute boys’ literacy blog that was written with the help of Claire Laurence, a friend of mine who is a psychologist specialising in the study of aggression and the factors that trigger it. Not surprisingly aggressive behaviour is linked to a lack of empathy. Clare introduced me to the research of another psychologist, Richard Tremblay, who has shown that aggressive traits tend to take root at pre-school/infant age and are most effectively addressed at the same age. One of the key factors that Tremblay identifies is ‘development of language’, which goes hand in hand with literacy. So, as you’ve said in your post, picture books are an important part of the solution, not just because they encourage children to empathise with another character, but because the language skills they help to develop allow children to communicate more effectively with each other.

      There’s an excellent and very accessible report about Tremblay’s research here:
      http://www.excellence-earlychildhood.ca/documents/Tremblay_AggressionReport_ANG.pdf

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    3. Early language skills are so important in relation to aggression and frustration. I'll check out your blog and read Tremblay's report. In a former life (before I had children) I was a research developmental psychologist for many years. I'm looking forward to reading it. Thank you, Jonathan.

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    4. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts. Only the last third of the 'Nature and Nurture' essay relates to aggression (from page 13 onwards), although you might be interested in the rest of it as well.

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    5. Thanks, Jonathan. I'll read the whole thing and get back to you once I've read it.

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  2. Dear Clare, I thought of you when I heard of the Stanford case, this is a courageous and hugely giving piece. Thank you. I imagine by saying this aloud you have made many lives a little better today.

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    1. Thank you, Candy. It's something people are so reticent to talk about, and yet if we did all talk about it more, then it could help towards a greater understanding of consent, from a much earlier age. I really think it's important to tackle people's idea of something being fun when the person they're doing it to doesn't think it's fun. It's very prevalent in society with teasing and mocking 'as a joke' when the person it's aimed at isn't enjoying it. So many people grow up thinking that's ok and encourages very warped ideas about consent.

      I hope you noticed the book you gave my children, still much loved: So Much? Let me know if you have any other suggestions for books to go into the post. I can add them. x

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    2. sorry, and IT encourages very warped ideas about consent.

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  3. Hey Juliet, what a fabulous and brave blog. I'm so glad that you had good people to rescue you and that the authorities did manage to succeed in catching and penalising your attacker. Also, that you had such a cathartic result in being able to change your role from victim to owning more power in making that man reflect on his problems and how awful it was for you. You've done far more good for society in just one letter than the system would have done in solely punishing him by locking him up - well done! On the subject of books for children to subtly make them more aware of right and wrong, there is a fab book which I was introduced to by a dear friend, called 'Come and Tell me'by Helen Hollick and Lynda Knott. I'm going to put a picture of it with my message on facebook - it's a straight up stranger danger warning, and I found it very effective with my children. I wish you well and congrats on the success of your Maggie McGee book, I love the cover!

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    1. Thank you, Shana Nieberg-Suschitzky. It has so much to do with empathy and my strong guess is that the man who attacked me had not been shown much in the way of unconditional love or empathy. Writing a straight forward letter explaining the impact of what he had done to me and hoping that he would make better choices in the future and that I genuinely believed he could turn his life around and never do it again, and live a happier life, I think helped him take responsibility. Properly understanding cause and effect is a powerful thing. Thanks for the recommendation. I'll definitely check it out. All the best, Clare. x

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  4. A powerful post Juliet, thanks so much for writing it x

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    1. Thank you, Catherine. Much appreciated.
      All the best, Clare x

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  5. Clare, thank you for sharing your experience - so honest and brave of you. I would like to add a picture book to your list that we felt we had to introduce to our young family - about empowering children in dangerous situations (not only 'stranger danger'), "We Can Say No" By David Pithers & Sarah Greene -

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/We-Can-Say-David.../dp/0099506904 (it could be available in libraries). - I tried several times to post this comment on the den but I kept turning in circles trying to sign in.

    Sue Eves

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    1. Sorry you couldn't reply on here, Sue, but I've copied and pasted your Facebook reply. Thank you very much for your recommended book. I'm going to check it out now. x

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  6. Thank you for this Clare, for being brave enough to write it - I think you know I'm one of those who didn't report. I often wonder if the man who assaulted me went on to assault other girls and whether , if I'd been braver, I could have stopped that. The answer is, probably and too my shame, yes....I'd add in the Selfish Crocodile...he could...but he doesn't x

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    1. Thank you for your very honest and brave comment, Kathy. This is the terrible thing: so many women are attacked by someone, never report it because they know what it's going to involve and that almost certainly it won't result in a conviction even after their whole personal life has been dissected in a gruesome and inhumane way in court, and then live not only with the aftermath of what has happened, but also with the guilt of not putting themselves through the horror that is the contested court case in order to prevent it happening to someone else. There should be absolutely no shame for you for not reporting it. The shame lies squarely on the man who did it, and on the system that turns those who have been attacked into something to be wrung out completely by the justice system.

      Thank you so much for your recommendation. It's going to go into the post with your comment -he could... but he doesn't.

      Much love to you, and be kind to yourself. The wrong person is ashamed here. xxxxx

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  7. Very thought-provoking, Clare! I'm sorry you had to go through that. But you're right, instilling good values in our kids early on should help them make better choices as adults. Pbs are a great way to do that. Thanks!

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  8. Thanks for this post, Clare. I had no idea you'd been through this. I'm so sorry. Your list is wonderful and shows how PBs open doors for discussion and empowerment.

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    1. Thank you, Penny. I agree that PBs are great for starting discussions. I'm sure you'll have some excellent examples of empowering picture books. Let me know if you think of any. Clare x

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  9. Such a brave post and brave woman, Clare, and I'm so impressed at the power of your letter to the man.
    You asked about other picture books, in particular about taking without permission, and I've been flicking through my picture books. 'The Promise' by Nicola Davies and Laura Carlin is about how a young mugger changes the world around her after she gives a promise to her victim - how there is goodness and promise in us all and however insignificant we all have power to change the world. 'The Monster Who Ate Darkness' (Joyce Dunbar and Jimmy Liao) is about a thoughtless monster who comes to realise he's doing harm and rectifys it.

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    1. Thank you, Paeony. I'm going to try and get a copy of The Promise, and I'll check out The Monster Who Ate Darkness. It's great to get some more suggestions. And it was good to include your book on troubles within friendships, too. If you can learn to negotiate friendships (and such books are really helpful for that) then you're setting yourself up well for making better choices now and in the future. Thanks again, Clare x

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  10. That was a really powerful post Clare. It's been on my mind all day but yours for many years! Thanks for enlightening us x

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    1. Hi Ali. Thanks for commenting. As someone who works with the Schools Library Service you must come across a lot of books that you think work well in encouraging empathy, and for people to make a real connection between cause and effect, etc.. I'll pick your brains next time I see you! Thanks, Clare.x

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  11. Thank you so much for this post. That case struck chords with me too. So brave of you to share your story and it's really given me food for thought for future writing. I have drawn on my experiences for other books but I never thought of using this for my children's books. It makes so much sense to instill these morals into our kids in a creative and fun way. It should seem ludicrous to them that they would force anyone to do anything they don't want to do or be forced. That video about the tea is fantastic. We definitely need to be creating titles like these for children. Well done, Francesca x

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    1. Thank you, Francesca. And I'm glad it's given you food for thought for future writing. With thanks and very best wishes, Clare. x

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  12. Hi Clare. I'm sorry you had to go through such a tough experience. And thanks for a great blog post about an important subject. You're right - we do need these books. As for books that about not using physical strength as an advantage, I dont think you can beat Jeanne Willis's 'Mine's Bigger than Yours!' https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mines-Bigger-Yours-Jeanne-Willis/dp/1842708635

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    1. Hi Alice, Thank you for your comment. And huge thanks for your recommendation of Jeanne Willis's book. I've just ordered it and I'll add it into the blog post as it looks hugely relevant.
      Clare x

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    2. And I'll let you know if I think of any more x

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    3. I know you've already got some good titles covering bullying on the blog but another one is 'Is it Because...?' by Tony Ross

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    4. I only came across Is It Because when I was writing the post as it was recommended on a list. I will check it out. Thanks again. x

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  13. What a brave and moving post - thank you so much for sharing. I will check out the books you've mentioned.

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    1. Hello Teresa, Thank you so much for your comment (and thank you for putting someone else in touch with me recently -much appreciated). There are loads of books that would be relevant. If we're doing out job properly as writers and illustrators, then we should be creating rich stories that encourage empathy...

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  14. Victoria Woolfe14 June 2016 at 11:00

    Really, really upset to hear about how you suffered, Clare. Much love. xx

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    1. Thank you, Victoria. But it's a life time ago. It's part of who I am and how I feel about the world and I am exactly where I'd like to be right now. So please don't feel upset for me -for reasons described above and having only known unconditional love from my parents, I was able to move away from it -but keeping the healthier disregard for unimportant things that coming so close to death can often bring. Thank you for your post, Victoria and hope to see you again before too long. x

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  15. Clare, what an awful thing to have been through. I'm very glad you were able to write this post. Children are so emotionally astute, and I love books that encourage their natural empathy. There are some great suggestions here that I hope to get in for my local school library. Well done for posting something so personal and important. Michelle x

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    1. Thank you, Michelle. It was awful for a period of time and then it just became part of who I am. I was lucky to have the love of such wonderful family, friends, friends of friends, and people I barely knew and I came out of it more confident in knowing what I wanted (or wanting what I had) and more empowered than I had been before. Love is a wonderful thing, and that's what we can get across in books. Like you say, children are very emotionally astute and we're in a really privileged position to be part of encouraging that natural empathy. Thanks again, Michelle. x

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  16. I'm so sorry for what you've been through, Clare, but I appreciate your bravery in speaking out and starting this discussion around empathy in picture books (and empathy in general and understanding the consequences of our actions and how they do have a cause and effect).

    We have two books at home where the characters appreciate they've hurt others in the past and seek to make amends for their actions. They are EVIL WEASEL by Hannah Shaw and GOLDILOCKS RETURNS by Lisa Campbell Ernst (albeit in the latter, the MC ends up causing further problems, but her heart is in the right place as she goes about trying to make amends to the bears).

    I'll be watching the recommendations with interest, and I hope this post gets to as many people as possible who are in a position to share these books with young children.

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    1. Hello Rebecca, Thanks for commenting. I had no idea that I was going to write about this until I sat down to write the blog post on Sunday. It was just the thing that wouldn't go away in my mind that week. And it's great to talk about empathy in picture books. It's what we're doing all the time when we're doing it right. But it's really interesting to look at books that address certain themes without being moralistic and still telling a great story. Thank you for your suggestions. I'm going to check them both out. Clare x

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  17. I love this post, and it reminded me of two picture books I read while serving on round one of the Cybils Fiction Picture Book panel. The title under consideration was TICKLE MONSTER. The first book I found put on hold with that title tired out to be a book by Josie Bissett, illustrated by Kevan J. Atteberry. Despite the potential fun this could be in some settings, I included my own concerns about a child-character who appeared to be at the mercy of the said TICKLE MONSTER. My Goodreads review is here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/5984611-tickle-monster?from_search=true&search_version=service
    Some kids adore being tickled, and even enjoy playing the role of victim, but I have known enough young kids to confirm that for some this experience and the book itself could be a challenge.ON the other hand the TICKLE MONSTER book by Edouard Manceau, the one I was actually seeking and evaluating, earned five stars from me for its empowering message and kid-friendly vibrancy. In his approach the energy and self-reliance of the child allows for dismantling the monster in an age-appropriate version of the way the judge and rapist were verbally dismembered in that court statement. Young readers (and the adults who read with them) benefit from books that encourage empathy, but also empower characters under attack, all while entertaining and engaging in quality literature. Here's a post about two such titles: http://unpackingpicturebookpower.blogspot.com/2015/11/cybils-fiction-picture-books-worthy.html

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  18. Hi Sandy,
    Thank you for your really interesting comment and the blog post. I'm intrigued to read both Tickle Monsters. Tickling people who don't want to be tickled 'for a laugh' (for the tickler and not the person being tickled) is one of those consent issues that has always really bothered me. I'm going to try and get hold of them. Thank you, Clare.

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    1. Sandy and Clare, I agree with you so much on the tickling issue.

      Obviously there are times when kids don't have authority over what happens to their bodies-- if they need a jab, it's your parental responsibility to give it to them, whether they want it or not. But it bothers me that many adults seem to leap from that to the assumption that kids have to submit to anything a grownup wants to do to them. This goes for unwanted hugs and kisses as well.

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  19. Clare, this post moved me more than you'll ever know. Thank you for being brave and caring enough to write it. C x

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    1. Hi Christina, Thanks for the comment. I'm sending love and solidarity your way. xxx

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  20. From Libbs Packer

    Hi Clare, wow. I tried to comment on the blog post, but couldn't remember my gmail password, so it wouldn't let me!
    Thank you for sharing such a personal story in the hope that it can help others. It is a very thought provoking post. I'm sorry that this happened to you, but glad that the outcome was 'good' and as Shana has said, turn your roles around and hopefully help the guy. The Stanford case has been weighing on my mind this last week, the lady's letter was incredibly powerful. I have particularly been pondering what we can do to change things for the future. I love your way of looking at it through picture books and will definitely be getting hold of some that you've mentioned that we don't have. A series I love, which I think helps teach children about friendship, differences and feeling is the 'Frog' books by Max Velthuijs. X

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    1. Thank you, Libbs, for your lovely comment. There are so many reasons we need to be encouraging empathy at the moment. There are some great books on those lists I've linked to, and one has Frog and The Stranger, by Max Velthuijs. I need to reread them all. They're great. Thanks for the reminder.
      Clare x

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  21. Thank you so much for that thoughtful and moving post, Clare.

    One of my favorite picture books about kindness, love, and family support is Fancy Nancy by Jane O'Connor and Robin Preiss Glasser.

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    1. Thank you, Jacob. I've heard of Fancy Nancy over and over again by American writers but I've never seen it until now. I've just watched it on Youtube. It's so simple -a child who is different and whose family lets her be -without anything dramatic happening or her having any dramatic problems. It's just proper acceptance. Thank you! Clare x

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  22. I've come rather late to this, Clare - goodness, what a powerful post. Thanks for putting this out there. I wonder how the subject of consent can be treated. Let's discuss.

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    1. Thanks, James. Looking forward to seeing you soon. Clare.

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