As a mother of three teenage girls who has been a school counsellor for over seven years, Jay Sanders realised very little was being done within schools to empower children and protect them from inappropriate behaviour. Using her extensive publishing and writing background she has since written a series of children’s books that encourage conversations about sensitive topics to help children to feel safe and better understand their feelings and boundaries. Read a Q&A with the author below.
Tell us about the types of children’s books you write and their focus.
I write both fiction and non-fiction texts. My books are a hybrid of the usual traditional children’s book but with an educational thread. I write on challenging topics such as keeping kids safe from inappropriate touch, consent, respectful relationship and gender equality. I am passionate about empowering children, and I am adamant there is a way to broach these challenging topics with children through well-crafted and engaging stories.
Your latest book is on empathy; why did you choose that topic?
Empathy is a learned trait, and as a teacher and a mother, I am concerned that children are becoming less engaged with the people around them and more engaged with the technology that is so easily accessible. Teaching children to see the world from another person’s point of view is crucial to a kind, compassionate and empathetic society, and therefore, I believe teaching empathy from an early age is critical.
Your books are structured differently from many children’s books; how are they different?
I always provide discussion question for the adult reader to assist them in drawing out the child’s learning. Of course, some adults know exactly how to extend the conversation and embed the important message, but many are grateful for the scaffolding. A number of my books have child-centred questions on the page so the child can express how they interpreted the text and illustrations, and the emotions they or the character may have felt. That way the child feels invested in the story and can share things that are also important to them.
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