In lots of ways my kids are brilliant at saying no. When I expect them to go to bed. When I’m attempting to coax them into trying ‘new’ foods. When I’m in a rush and they don’t want to go anyway. It feels like a skill that they really excel in.

But on other occasions, I’ve been really frustrated when they’ve failed to say no. Katie particularly has never been a fan of being hugged. Even as a small baby she wasn’t happy being passed to people and tends to be quite reserved. I can see her obvious discomfort at times when other children hug her. But yet, she just doesn’t say no.

Her key workers in pre school were brilliant at recognising this and really worked hard to teach her to say “No, I don’t like that!” in a really authoritative way. And I’m forever grateful that they did.

I want my kids to have bodily autonomy. I don’t want to keep quiet when they are uncomfortable or unhappy. And I certainly want them to stand up when they see injustice in the world.

I could not have been prouder hearing Katie protesting loudly that another child had taken something off her friend. Funnily enough, when you’re aged 4, a very loud ‘No, that’s NOT right’ gets people’s attention.

So whilst I’m still going to encourage compliance regarding vegetable consumption. In many other ways I’d much prefer my kids to be rebels!

Here are five books that I hope encourage to say NO in the ‘right’ situation:

1. Malala Yousafzai: Warrior with Words by Karen Leggett Abouraya. Author and journalist Karen Leggett Abouraya, brings Malala’s story to life for young readers. Malala’s story is more than a biography of a brave and outspoken teenager. It is a testament to the power of education to change the world for boys and girls everywhere.

2. Rosie Revere, Engineer – by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts. Rosie may seem quiet during the day, but at night she’s a brilliant inventor of gizmos and gadgets who dreams of becoming a great engineer. When her Great, Great Aunt Rose (Rosie the Riveter) comes for a visit and mentions her one unfinished goal–to fly–Rosie sets to work building a contraption to make her aunt’s dream come true. Her invention complete, Rosie attempts a test flight–but after a moment, the machine crashes to the ground. Discouraged, Rosie deems the invention a failure, but Aunt Rose insists that on the contrary, it was a raging success. You can only truly fail, she explains, if you quit. Reassured, Rosie returns to her engineering and inspires her classmates to join in the fun.

3. We Are All Born Free: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Pictures – by Amnesty International. An illustrated celebration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, stunningly brought to life by internationally-renowned artists including Axel Scheffler, Chris Riddell and Satoshi Kitamura. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed on 10th December 1948.

4. No Means No – by Ayneen Sanders and Cherie Zamazing. ‘No Means No!’ is a children’s picture book about an empowered little girl who has a very strong and clear voice in all issues, especially those relating to her body and personal boundaries.

5. A is for Activist – by Innosanto Nagara. A is for Activist is an ABC board book written and illustrated for the next generation of progressives: families who want their kids to grow up in a space that is unapologetic about activism, environmental justice, civil rights, LGBTQ rights and everything else that activists believe in and fight for. The alliteration, rhyming and vibrant illustrations make the book exciting for children, while the issues depicted resonate with their parents’ values of community, equality and justice.

What’s your favourite book for rebel kids? I’d love to find some more good ones! Have you read any of these? If so, what did you think of them?

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