Children's Literature in Education

, Volume 41, Issue 2, pp 146–167

‘Keep Telling Until Someone Listens’: Understanding Prevention Concepts in Children’s Picture Books Dealing with Child Sexual Abuse

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10583-010-9104-1

Cite this article as:
Lampert, J. & Walsh, K. Child Lit Educ (2010) 41: 146. doi:10.1007/s10583-010-9104-1


Children’s picture books dealing with the topic of child sexual abuse appeared in the 1980s with the aim of addressing the need for age-appropriate texts to teach sexual abuse prevention concepts and to provide support for young children who may be at risk of or have already experienced sexual abuse. Despite the apparent potential of children’s picture books to convey child sexual abuse prevention concepts, very few studies have addressed the topic of child sexual abuse in children’s literature. This article critically examines a selection of 15 picture books (published in the US, Canada and Australia) for children aged 3–8 years dealing with this theme. It makes use of an established set of evaluative criteria to conduct an audit of the books’ content and applies techniques of literary discourse analysis to explain how these picture books satisfy criteria for child sexual abuse prevention. The analysis is used as a way to understand the discourses available to readers, both adults and children, on the topic of child sexual abuse. Key themes in the books include children’s empowerment and agency, and the need for persistence and hope.


Child sexual abusePreventionChildren’s literatureLiterary analysisPicture books

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Learning Innovation, Faculty of EducationQueensland University of TechnologyKelvin GroveAustralia