Authored by Bronx Assistant District Attorney Jill Starishevsky, this book drives home the point that a child's body is his or hers alone and nobody has the right to touch it, especially in the private areas. Along with the storybook example of abuse and of what the child should do if such a thing occurs, the illustrations by Sara Muller truly helped to bring across both the ideas and the mood of each page.
What I thought about this book as a parent:
1) Although this book was candid, it was written in a way that it was not frightening to my son.
2) I liked that the book works for both boys and girls. Even the illustrations of the child are ambiguous as far as gender goes.
3) It was helpful to have a list of suggestions at the end about how to begin a dialog with your child using this book.
4) This book allowed me to elaborate on all the different things an abuser might say to convince the child to keep their secret.
5) The book also allowed me to explain that abuse does not have to hurt, but it could just feel uncomfortable or just not right.
What my son thought about this book:
1) The only question he had was regarding where the abuser touched the child in the book. It was not clear to him. I had to explain to him more explicitly and turned back to the second illustration in the book.
2) My son seemed to understand all the other aspects of the book. Aside from my husband and I introducing this topic to him, it has been touched upon by his teachers, children's television programs, and even in online children's games.
3) My son did ask me if the child in the story was a boy or a girl and he finally decided that it was a boy. I think this is a sign that he understood and could somewhat relate to the story.
As far as I am concerned, educating our children about child sexual predators is just as important as teaching them not to talk to strangers, not to take drugs, not to play with matches, and not to run out into the street. "My Body Belongs To Me" helps to give children the courage to stand up for themselves and to be brave in telling someone they trust if anything should ever happen. I recommend this book as a useful tool for any parents of children preschool-aged and older.
You can find more information about "My Body Belongs To Me" on MyBodyBelongsToMe.com where it is available for purchase. This book is due to hit the local and online bookstores in September of 2009.