My 6-year-old daughter has recently been asking me a lot about strangers and what she should do if approached by one. She’s been learning about “stranger danger” in school (June is National Safety Month) and seems to be very curious about who we know and don’t know outside of the home, just like many other curious children her age.
While I love that my daughter is becoming more self-aware about the people around her, I’m trying to teach her the difference between staying away from strangers, asking for help, and simply being cordial with people while in my presence. The other day, both she and my 4-year-old were asked by a woman how old they were while we all rode an elevator together. Both of my children stayed mum while my daughter later explained to me that she thought it was inappropriate to talk to the woman since we clearly didn’t know her. And while she’s absolutely right (gotta love children for being on the ball), I still want to teach her the difference between staying away from strangers who might approach them while a parent or guardian is not around and simply being cordial and polite to others while in the presence of an adult they know and trust.
Sounds easy, right? Well, unfortunately we live in a world with so many mixed messages, sometimes you just need a little help. Enter some of the best children’s book authors out there who can help you teach children the difference between right and wrong.
Below are some of my favorite books that teach preschool- and elementary school-aged children what to do when they find themselves lost, how to avoid strangers, and the importance of privacy when it comes to their bodies. It’s a tough subject to talk about with children, but at the end of the day, we do what’s best for them to ensure their safety and their happiness. Check out my list below and tell us Babble readers, how do you talk to your children about “stranger danger?”
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1. A Little Book About Safety by Samantha Kurtzman-Counter
This one is another gem from Ruby’s Studio and The Mother Company. While reading this book to my children, they seemed to be very concerned about the main character’s safety from the moment he gets to the beach to when he gets taunted by monkeys and evidently gets lost from his family. Even though I really never made an effort to teach my children our cell phone numbers (I know that’s a bad confession to make, but I barely have any phone numbers memorized these days myself), both my son and daughter insisted on learning my cell phone number almost immediately after finishing this book. I’m so glad this book taught them the importance of being prepared to keep themselves safe and how to contact their parents in unwanted (and hopefully avoidable) situations.
2. The Berenstain Bears Learn About Strangers by Jan Berenstain
As I mentioned above, my children are still having a hard time figuring out when not to talk to strangers and when it’s appropriate to just be cordial when a parent or trusted adult is around. In The Berenstain Bears Learn About Strangers (which was one of my favorite series to read while growing up), Papa Bear tells the cubs why they should never talk to strangers while also inducing a rule about the privacy of a bear’s body. This is a must-read for every parent and child.
3. Your Body Belongs to You by Cornelia Maude Spelman
We live in a day and age in which we need to talk to children about the privacy of their bodies from a very early age. This book, which is perfect for preschool-aged children to second-graders, teaches children that it’s all right for them to choose when, and by whom, they are to be touched. In very simple yet assertive language, it also helps explain to children that they should never be touched by people other than medical personnel and trusted adults helping with bathroom functions.
4. Never Talk to Strangers by Irma Joyce
This book does a great job of telling children what to do in situations where there isn’t a trusted adult present. Even though the book was originally written in the 1960s, my children loved the artwork and the text was surprisingly very witty and in most parts, timeless, too (even though I don’t think there are many parents these days that allow their elementary school-aged children to walk home by themselves after school or stay at home alone, right?). My only little criticism is by now, I think most children do know (or at least they should know) not to take candy from strangers, even if that stranger appears to be an elderly grandmother. Millennial kids eat organic veggies, anyhow.
5. The Day My Parents Got Lost by Susette Williams
This is another great example of a book that teaches children the importance of staying close to their parent or guardian, no matter where they go. I also like the main character’s point-of-view in the story, in which he didn’t get lost but his parents did instead, blaming them for the mishap as opposed to getting in trouble himself. The book creatively teaches children about “stranger danger” and how it’s important to stay close to a loved one in order to avoid getting lost in a big crowd. The book was also very cleverly written with rhyming words which were easy enough for my first-grader to read on her own.