Bravely Telling Kids about Abuse

February 2002
by Linda Carlson

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Elizabeth and Fred Crary of Parenting Press were no strangers to instant bestsellers when they published It’s MY Body in 1983. By then they’d been in business for four years and had seen her first parenting guide, Without Spanking or Spoiling, sell through its first printing of 5,000 in less than a year.

Second, third, fourth, and fifth printings of Without Spanking had gone equally fast. A second parenting book and three books for kids had also been well received. But that didn’t mean the Crarys were prepared for the runaway success of It’s MY Body. Hardly more than a booklet, this 24-page children’s book by a preschool teacher told the very young how to speak up if they didn’t like being touched.

Originally published by a Northwest Washington chapter of Planned Parenthood, which did a run of 1,000 copies, It’s My Body had been submitted to several large publishers of children’s books by author Lory Freeman. Only the Crarys were interested. (In the early 1980s, sexual abuse of children was still an almost unmentionable topic.) But as one of the first books for preschoolers that didn’t get lost in abstract concepts or vague references to the dangers of strangers, It’s MY Body drew immediate rave reviews from dozens of publications ranging from School Library Journal to feminist newsletters, from women’s magazines to preschool bulletins.

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