In recent years, perhaps in response to the growing awareness of the #MeToo movement started by activist Tarana Burke in 2006 and which gained wider consciousness in 2017, there have been an increasing number of books for all ages that address issues of consent. We’ve gathered a list of recent and forthcoming titles, with pub dates ranging between 2019 and September 2021, which include opportunities for children and teens to better understand and navigate boundaries, sex, trauma, and more.
Recent and Forthcoming Fiction
After the Ink Dries
by Cassie Gustafson, illus. by Emma Vieceli (Simon & Schuster, July 20, 2021, $19.99, ISBN 978-1-5344-7369-0). Ages 14 and up.
Merging both prose and graphic elements, Gustafson relates the story of 16-year-old webcomic artist Erica Walker, who wakes up after a drunken house party half-clothed, with words and names of the boys’ lacrosse team written in intimate places on her body, including the name of her new boyfriend. Graphic novel interstitials feature Erica’s alter ego superhero, Erica Strange.
Can I Give You a Squish?
by Emily Neilson (Dial, June 9, 2020, $17.99, ISBN 978-1-984814-77-7). Ages 3–7.
In this lighthearted picture book, mer-boy Kai loves giving hugs—or “squishes” as he and his mother refer to them. When his overexuberance upsets a puffer fish, who swells up in fright, Kai learns new ways to show affection and greet friends. Read our starred review.
by Kate Messner (Bloomsbury, Feb. 4, 2020, $16.99, ISBN 978-1-5476-0281-0). Ages 10–14.
For rising eighth grader and gymnast Mia, a move to Vermont means new camps, new friends, spending time with her grandmother, who is convinced someone is out to destroy her cricket farm, and a chance not to think about the trauma she’d rather forget. Setting out to investigate her grandmother’s concerns, Mia hopes to uncover the truth in time to save the farm, but the mystery might even empower her to confront her own secret. Read our starred review.
Don’t Hug Doug (He Doesn’t Like It)
by Carrie Finison, illus. by Daniel Wiseman (Putnam, Jan. 26, 2021, $16.99, ISBN 978-1-63198-500-3). Ages 3–7.
Doug doesn’t like hugs because they are too squeezy, too squooshy, and too smooshy; he’d much rather high five. Doug helps show young readers that the best way to tell whether or not someone likes hugs is to ask. Read our starred review.
by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley (Dial, Aug. 11, 2020, $17.99, ISBN 978-1-984815-68-2). Ages 10 and up.
This story about 10-year-old Della and her old sister Suki tackles the stigma around child sexual abuse. Della always has Suki; she was there when their mother went to prison, and when her boyfriend took them in. When the boyfriend does something awful, the sisters have to flee and Suki attempts suicide, making Della realize it’s time to speak up. Read our starred review.
He Must Like You
by Danielle Younge-Ullman (Viking, July 14, 2020, $18.99, ISBN 978-1-984835-71-0). Ages 14 and up.
High-school senior and waitress Libby is dealing with her brother absconding with his college fund, her father’s announcement that she’ll have to fund her own education and move out as soon as possible so he can rent her room, and the fallout of a drunken hook-up with a coworker when one of her regular customers, who is also a serial harasser, pushes her over the edge. According to our review, Younge-Ullman “candidly considers rape culture and consent, offering clear examples of what’s not ok.”
Maybe He Just Likes You
by Barbara Dee (Aladdin, Oct. 1, 2019, $18.99, ISBN 978-1-5344-3237-6). Ages 9–13.
When boys start giving her unwanted physical attention and making her uncomfortable, seventh grader Mila’s concern is brushed aside by her best friend who thinks she’s immature and overreacting. As Mila comes to understand the harassment she’s experiencing, she finds peace and power in a new hobby: karate. Read our starred review.
Monsters Among Us
by Monica Rodden (Crown, Jan. 5, 2021, $17.99, ISBN 978-0-593-12586-1). Ages 14 and up.
Returning home from her first semester at college, after experiencing a night she struggles to piece together and dreads remembering, Catherine Ellers longs for normal. When someone close to her is murdered, her illusion of safety is shattered, and Catherine must face the recent violent events in her life head-on. Read our review.
More Than Fluff
by Madeline Valentine (Knopf, Mar. 9, 2021, $17.99, ISBN 978-0-593-17905-5). Ages 3–7.
A fuzzy chick named Daisy navigates autonomy and consent in this humorous picture book. Daisy’s fluff compels her friends to pet her, squeeze her, and tell her how cute she is, but Daisy doesn’t want to be touched, so she must figure out how to communicate with her friends to establish and respect boundaries.
Please Don’t Give Me a Hug!
by Judi Moreillon, illus. by Estelle Corke (Star Bright, Apr. 20, 2021, $6.99, ISBN 978-1-59572-917-0). Ages 2–4.
Per PW’s review, this board book from librarian Moreillon “may help youngest readers voice alternatives to unwanted physical contact.” The significance of consent is reinforced with the refrain “You can give me… But, please, don’t give me a bear hug!” Read our review.
by Elana K. Arnold (HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, Feb. 25, 2020, $18.99, ISBN 978-0-06-274235-3). Ages 14 and up.
In this dark “Little Red Riding Hood” retelling, 16-year-old Bisou Martel discovers the power that is her birthright after slaying a vicious, attacking wolf in the forest the same night she has her first period. When a boy who had behaved forcefully at the dance the night before is found slain with the same wounds Bisou inflicted on the wolf, her familial legacy begins to become clear. Read our starred review.
Rissy No Kissies
by Katey Howes, illus. by Jess Engle. (Carolrhoda, Mar. 2, 2021, $17.99, ISBN 978-1-5415-9798-3). Ages 7–8.
With rhyming text and watercolor illustrations featuring a colorful bird named Rissy, this picture book collaboration introduces young readers to the concept of body autonomy and consent. Rissy doesn’t like kissies, which confuses her friends and family, but she’s out to show them that there’s more than one way to communicate that you care.
by Lauren McLaughlin (Dottir Press, Apr. 21, 2020, $16.95, ISBN 978-1-948340-26-7). Ages 14 and up.
At Jonesville High, best friends Suze, Nikki, Ani, and Lydia protect one another against predatory guys, so when Suze starts dating wrestling star and known misogynist Tarkin, her friends are shocked. But Suze is being blackmailed and when Tarkin starts demanding more, she becomes determined to beat him at his own game with the help of two misfits.
The Ship We Built
by Lexie Bean (Dial, May 26, 2020, $16.99, ISBN 978-0-525-55483-7). Ages 10–14.
This epistolary novel follows Rowan, who is not the “right kind” of girl or the “right kind” of boy, and who shares his secrets through letters he attaches to balloons and releases into the universe, hoping someone will read them and understand his experiences, like his mother ignoring him and the ways his dad hurts him at night. A burgeoning friendship with a classmate, who understands what it’s like to be lonely and scared, even at home, makes him realize there may be someone who can help.
Something Happened to Ali Greenleaf
by Hayley Krischer (Razorbill, Oct. 6, 2020, $18.99, ISBN 978-0-593-11411-7). Ages 14 and up.
Ali Greenleaf and Blythe Jensen are opposites in most ways, but they are bound together, shaped by the night Ali finally made a move on her longtime crush (and Blythe’s best friend), soccer superstar Sean. When Sean pushes Ali further than she wants to go and he rapes her, Blythe tries to make things right, bringing Ali into her circle of ruthless popular girls with their own dark secrets.
by Mary Cecelia Jackson (Tor Teen, Mar. 17, 2020, $17.99, ISBN 978-0-7653-9885-7). Ages 13–17.
Ballerina Savannah Rose, nicknamed “Sparrow” by her family and friends, was schooled in the art of secrets by her long-dead mother. Sparrow isn’t “the kind of girl who tells,” but in the aftermath of an assault by her boyfriend, she must confront the ghosts of her past.
When You Know What I Know
by Sonja K. Solter (Little, Brown, Mar. 24, 2020, $16.99, ISBN 978-0-316-53544-1). Ages 8–12.
After being abused by her uncle, Tori tells her mother and, though her mother assures her she’s brave for speaking up, Tori knows she doesn’t believe her at first. When her grandmother takes her uncle’s side, Tori doesn’t want anyone else to know what happened, but she must work through her trauma with the support of her mother and friends.
Recent and Forthcoming Nonfiction
Ask First, Monkey!: A Playful Introduction to Consent and Boundaries
by Juliet Clare Bell (Jessica Kingsley, July 21, 2020, $18.95, ISBN 978-1-78775-410-2). Ages 3–6.
This playful picture book featuring a monkey and a goat addresses the importance of consent and respecting people and their individual boundaries.
The Big Questions Book of Sex & Consent
by Donna Freitas (Levine Querido, Sept. 15, 2020, $18.99, ISBN 978-1-64614-018-3). Ages 10 and up.
Scholar and educator Freitas offers an exploration of the “Big Questions” to help guide readers toward being thoughtful about sex and consent. Topics such as relational ethics, sexual identity, stereotypes, feminism, fear, shame, and the inequalities that people of color face are featured alongside opportunities for reflection and real-life application of concepts, as well as messages from a variety of prominent authors to their 12-year-old selves. Read our review.
Can We Talk About Consent? A Book About Freedom, Choices, and Agreement
by Justin Hancock and Fuchsia MacAree (Quarto, Jan. 26, 2021, $14.99, ISBN 978-0-7112-5656-9). Ages 14 and up.
In this slim graphic volume, sex and relationships educator Hancock breaks down the basics of how to give and get consent in every aspect of life, explaining why it matters for all of us. Noted in our review, “the message lands as especially relevant for younger adults or older teens who are just beginning to date, but this could provide a refresher course, too, for anyone who is struggling with communication in relationships.”
Consent (for Kids!): Boundaries, Respect, and Being in Charge of YOU
by Rachel Brian (Little, Brown, Jan. 7, 2020, $15.99, ISBN 978-0-316-45773-6). Ages 6–10.
Created by the co-creator of the viral “Tea Consent” video, this illustrated guide to bodily autonomy teaches readers about boundaries, respecting themselves and others, and self-advocacy. As stated in our review, “Brian expresses such serious, complicated subject matter so concisely and thoroughly, with simplicity and tone-appropriate wit and humor,” resulting in “a digestible, memorable volume meant to spark enlightened action.”
It Doesn’t Have to Be Awkward: Dealing with Relationships, Consent, and Other Hard-to-Talk About Stuff
by Drew Pinsky and Paulina Pinsky (Houghton Mifflin, Sept. 21, 2021, $19.99, ISBN 978-0-358-39603-1). Ages 12 and up.
Written by celebrity doctor Pinsky and his daughter Paulina, this volume includes resources and personal anecdotes to help teens, parents, and educators navigate meaningful conversations about sex and relationships.
#MeToo and You: Everything You Need to Know About Consent, Boundaries, and More
by Halley Bondy (Zest, Feb. 2, 2021, $14.99, ISBN 978-1-5415-8159-3). Ages 11 and up.
This guide is meant to give tween readers the tools they need to stay safe and healthy, including an understanding of consent, boundaries, power dynamics, and acceptable behavior across a range of relationship types. Bondy includes essential terminology and detailed scenarios, both real and hypothetical, to provide examples and guidance, while exploring the nuanced emotions of sexually charged and emotionally abusive situations.
Real Talk About Sex and Consent: What Every Teen Needs to Know
by Cheryl M. Bradshaw (Instant Help, Oct. 1, 2020, $17.95, ISBN 978-1-68403-449-9). Ages 13 and up.
Designed as a guide for teen readers about boundaries, coercion, reciprocity, how the body and brain respond to trauma, and communication, this book goes beyond simple definitions and explores hidden pressures, misrepresented expectations, the realities of sex, and how to navigate it all.
We Listen to Our Bodies (We Say What’s Okay)
by Lydia Bowers, illus. by Isabel Muñoz (Free Spirit, Mar. 2, 2021, $14.99, ISBN 978-1-63198-500-3). Ages 3–5.
Deja and her preschool classmates teach young readers how to recognize their emotions by listening to their bodies, providing the vocabulary to understand and communicate their feelings, establish boundaries, and build social and emotional skills. Back matter includes “Consent: A Guide for Caring Adults” and “We Listen to Our Bodies,” a song by Peaceful Schools. Read our review.