I’m grateful to the participants at the Multicultural Children’s Book Day Twitter party who suggested book topics that they were having trouble finding. One such topic was about personal space. When I mentioned it to my mom friends, they laughed because our friend Penny gets very uncomfortable when our boxing trainer comes in too close. And that’s the thing about personal space; it’s the space between you and a person that keeps you feeling safe. I’m sure we are hardwired from the time of living in caves to keep a certain distance for the sake of safety.
For kids who don’t have a sense of personal space and boundaries, I found three books (just three — there are not many on this topic!) to introduce this topic. Personal space also segues into safety for children whether it’s the social-emotional trauma of moving or regarding inappropriate touch. I have books to cover all of this.
How about you? Do you have a funny personal space or boundary story? Please share!
Personal Space Picture Book of the Day
Personal Space Camp By Julia Cook
Louis is a space expert but he doesn’t know much about personal space. He lands a spot in his principal’s Personal Space Camp where she uses a hula hoop as a personal spaceship to teach the kids about the right amount of space you need to feel comfortable. There’s also the “comfort bubble” which protects your spaceship from other ships and it isn’t always the same size depending on the situation. Louis gets to practice these concepts using a Personal Space Line-Up Rope (PSLUR for short). I love how this book uses concrete exercises to teach kids about personal space and boundaries. My school doesn’t offer a personal space camp but you can create your own at home using this book! [picture book, ages 4 and up]
Books about Personal Space and Boundaries
Kindergators: Hands Off, Harry! By Rosemary Wells
For some kids, personal space issues occur because they are just too active and bounce off the walls (or those around them). Harry the alligator is like that. He can’t keep his hands to himself and accidentally-on-purpose bumps into kids. Babette came up with putting a rubber inner tube to show Harry teach him about personal space and it works beautifully. He couldn’t grab anyone’s juice or join hands at sing-a-long. And when it was his turn to be the playground monitor, he did a terrific job! [picture book, ages 4 and up]
Personal Space FREE coloring book about personal space and safety. This would go with this book list: Keeping Kids Safe from Inappropriate Touch.
Violet Mackerel’s Personal Space by Anna Bradford, illustrated by Elanna Allen
“It’s the Theory of Leaving Small Things Behind,” says Violet. “When you leave something small behind, maybe a small part of you gets to stay too.”
Violoet Mackeral doesn’t have an issue with personal boundaries, but she does like to claim a small secret space as her own to hold memories fast. So while this easy chapter book isn’t about knowing others’ boundaries for the reasons of safety or comfort, it still kind of is a book about personal safety and comfort in a different, internal emotional sense of feeling connected in a world of change. [early chapter book, ages 6 and up]
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BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.