Please welcome my author friend, Jarrett Lerner, with his 8 Middle Grade Books that Address Body Image. His latest book is A Work in Progress. I met Jarrett at a children’s book event years ago, right after the launch of his first book, Enginerds. His career has soared since his debut and he’s such a wonderfully supportive person in the KidLit community. We are lucky to have him here in the Boston area!
Today, Jarrett has eight children’s books about body image, an important topic in this day and age of social media! Did you know that “Using more social media has also been linked to children and young people feeling less satisfied with their bodies. In our survey, 40% of young people (26% of boys and 54% of girls) said that images on social media have caused them to worry about their body image.” according to MentalHealth.org.uk?
We are giving away 5 copies of A Work in Progress by Jarrett Lerner. To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter at the bottom.
8 Children’s Books About Body Image
According to new data released just last year, 3 out of 4 teenagers (girls and boys) are insecure about their bodies, while more than half of younger kids are. With body image clearly being such a pervasive problem, it’s surprising that there aren’t more kids’ books that deal with it and depict kids struggling with it. Below are a handful of the books already out there that do.
1. A Work in Progress by Jarrett Lerner
Full disclosure: this one is mine. It’s an illustrated novel in verse – framed as the interior of a kid’s private notebook/sketchbook – about a boy being publicly body-shamed and then suffering increasingly dire consequences from it. Among other things, the book explores the ways in which being bullied by others can lead to one “taking over” for the bullies and bullying oneself – and, in the words of my protagonist, doing the job better than anyone else possibly could. [middle grade novel in verse, ages 8 and up]
2. Bodies Are Cool by Tyler Feder
This one’s not actually a Middle Grade novel, it’s a picture book – but it deserves to be on this list anyway (picture books are for everybody, right?). Bodies Are Cool is a bright, boldly illustrated exploration and celebration of the astounding diversity of human bodies. While the book is marketed toward preschoolers, it’s a wonderful, instructional read for all ages, and can serve as a productive discussion starter in classrooms and libraries. And homes! It’s launched several fantastic conversations in my home. [picture book, ages 2 and up]
3. Garvey’s Choice by Nikki Grimes
A novel in verse by one of the best to ever do it. I’ve read Garvey’s Choice several times, and every time I’m astounded all over again by what Nikki Grimes can accomplish in just over a hundred pages of poetry. Garvey’s disinterest in sports and associated disconnection from his father will resonate with many readers, especially boys. His story is a crucial one that, for far too long, was missing from our bookshelves. [middle grade novel in verse, ages 8 and up]
4. Starfish by Lisa Fipps
Another novel in verse, this one driven by the voice of the unforgettable Ellie. If you are interested in this topic and have somehow not read this book, I strongly suggest you go and get your hands on a copy the instant you finish reading this list. Starfish is not only an important and powerful addition to the conversation about bullying, body shaming, body image, self-worth, and more, it’s also an unputdownable instant classic – a must-read for all readers. [middle grade novel in verse, ages 10 and up]
5. Smaller Sister by Maggie Edkins Willis
One of the only – if not, at least as of this writing, the only – graphic novels to portray kids struggling with body image, disordered eating, and eating disorders. I was thrilled to find out about the book, which is Maggie Edkins Willis’s debut, as the format will likely prove more inviting for readers who may balk at a standard novel or even a novel in verse. Add the fact that the Smaller Sister is full of all sorts of relatable, school- and sibling-based humor, and you’ve got yourself a winner. [middle grade graphic novel, ages 9 and up]
6. Taking Up Space by Alyson Gerber
The first prose novel on this list, Taking Up Space is eminently readable and tackles a whole host of issues surrounding body image, food, and eating. Significantly, it explores the ways in which a parent can, even completely unintentionally, complicate and/or exacerbate their child’s troubled relationship with their body, eating, and food. Alyson Gerber crafts poignant, powerful books about tough issues, and I’m grateful she tackled this one. [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
7. All of Me by Chris Baron
Another novel in verse – but one you definitely do not want to miss out on, even if you think you’ve had your fill of poetry! Body image is just one of many issues Chris Baron tackles brilliantly in his fabulous debut. As a title, All of Me works on many levels – including that, over the course of the book, readers will feel as close to Ari as they ever have felt to a fictional character. His life and world, inside and out, are fully on the page. [middle grade novel in verse, ages 10 and up]
8. Good Enough by Jen Petro-Roy
A second prose novel, Good Enough, centers on Riley, who has developed a full-blown eating disorder and is now at an inpatient treatment center, on the road to recovery. But eating disorders (like body image issues and disordered eating) are incredibly challenging to recover from – it’s hard to even concretely know what recovery might look like. We cannot separate ourselves from our bodies. We need to eat several times a day in order to remain healthy. Good Enough is an essential book, showing kids how bad things can get – and how, should they already be or ever find themselves there, they can begin to make themselves better again. [middle grade, ages 9 and up]
5 Book Giveaway of A Work in Progress: 5 Winners!
We are giving away 5 copies of A Work in Progress by Jarrett Lerner. To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter below. We can only mail to U.S. and A.F.O. addresses.
Author-illustrator Jarrett Lerner is the award-winning creator of the EngiNerds series of Middle Grade novels, the Geeger the Robot series of early chapter books, the activity books Give This Book a Title and Give This Book a Cover, The Hunger Heroes series of graphic novel chapter books, and the Nat the Cat series of early readers. Jarrett is also the creator of the forthcoming illustrated novel in verse A Work in Progress, as well as several as-yet-unannounced projects. All of Jarrett’s books are published by Simon & Schuster.
In addition to writing, drawing, and visiting schools and libraries across the country, Jarrett co-founded and co-organizes the #KidsNeedBooks and #KidsNeedMentors projects, and regularly spearheads fundraisers for various reading- and book-related causes. He is also the founder and operator of Jarrett Lerner’s Creator Club. He can be found at jarrettlerner.com and on Twitter and Instagram at @Jarrett_Lerner. He lives with his wife and daughters in Massachusetts.
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