This story is perfect for kids who are still learning about boundaries and personal space, as well as those who need some reinforcement about the importance of consent before touching others. Anyone who has been around a group of young children (such as a kindergarten class), understands that some kids just cannot seem to keep their hands to themselves. No matter how many times an adult requests that they keep their hands in their laps, they reach out and play with someone's hair, or try to hold their hand, or put their arms around a classmate. Teachers could easily use this book to begin a discussion about how to appropriately show affection for others while respecting their wishes about being touched.
It could also be very helpful in affirming a child's right to refuse a hug or other touch when it is not wanted. Some children are just not comfortable with being touched by others. It might be a personal preference that is the same each day, or it might be just a temporary mood. Whatever the reason, the others all need to recognize and accept that choice. A class might also like to brainstorm how to show friendship and affection in other ways - such as the fist bump that Simon shares with Ricky the porcupine.
The book was written by a psychologist who also has experience as a special education teacher. She has included a discussion guide in the back that suggests questions and suggested responses. The illustrations show Simon as a sloth with long arms perfect for hugging, if anyone was in the mood for a hug. He has an expressive face that shows his dismay when his friends tell him "No." Young readers will be hoping that Simon finds a way to get along with his friends and reclaim that huge grin shown on the front cover.
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