Words cannot begin to express how excited I am that Justin and Lindsey Holcomb’s book God Made All of Me exists. The Holcombs are a Christian couple who share a concern for child sexual abuse. Lindsey is a professional counselor to survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence and a co-founder of REST (Real Escape from the Sex Trade). Justin is an Episcopal priest who serves on the boards of GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in Christian Environments) and REST. With their book’s simple language and colorful illustrations by Trish Mahoney, a clear message about children’s rights to bodily autonomy and safety shines forth.
There are many Christian books available to “help children protect their bodies.” A common theme in these is “the swimsuit lesson” (or “the underwear rule”), in which a child is taught that any area of one’s body covered by a swimsuit is a “private part.” While this lesson can be useful, it has a few problems. The most important is this: an abuser can easily skirt these warnings by touching other parts of a child’s body in their grooming process. And second, swimsuits come in different shapes, which can lead to confusion as to exactly what parts of the body are supposed to private.
The Holcombs fortunately use alternative phrasing. While they mention the swimsuit lesson, they also state if anyone touches any part of the child’s body and it makes the child feel uncomfortable, the child should tell a trusted adult. “Other parts of the body can be touched inappropriately (like mouth, legs, neck, arms),” they write. This is a significant improvement.
Furthermore, the Holcombs’ book teaches another lesson that many Christian books about preventing abuse neglect: a child has the right to say “No” to any physical interactions with anyone that makes that child feel uncomfortable. There are, of course, exceptions to this rule (going to the doctor’s, for example), and the Holcombs help children understand how to distinguish between cases.
This is particularly important for Christian parents within conservative homeschooling cultures to teach their children. Sadly, there are well-respected homeschool leaders like Voddie Baucham who believe children have no right to say “No” to physical interactions that upset them. Baucham believes that a little girl refusing to shake a pastor’s hand, for example, is a sin, and that the little girl should be beaten if she refuses. The Holcombs’ safety-first, body-positive advocacy provides a much-needed counterpoint to that sort of message.
It is important to note, for any readers who are not Christians, that God Made All of Me is grounded in Christian theology. It begins with the premise of the title, that the Christian God made every part of a child’s body and that every part is good. A child should not be ashamed of any body part because every part was lovingly crafted by God. Passages from Christian texts like Genesis and Psalms are cited.
However, apart from these foundations, I believe even non-Christians and non-religious people would find the book helpful. The book focuses primarily on the basics of child safety and promotes messages that transcend Christian communities like “You are in charge of your body” and “You can say no.” These two messages in particular can help both Christian and non-Christian parents begin a sex education curriculum that emphasizes body positivity and consent, two subjects sorely lacking in many religious and secular sex education materials.
If I was forced to give a critique of the book, it would be this: The book’s main language for children’s genitalia and chests is “private parts.” The Holcombs do use anatomically correct language at one point while describing “private parts” (“These include your penis, vagina, bottom, and breasts”). This is excellent and I am really glad they do this, as teaching your children the correct language for their body parts is an essential aspect of child abuse prevention. (And the Holcombs tell parents this, too: “Teach proper names of private body parts.”) However, these proper names are used only once in the book’s text whereas the phrase “private parts” is used eight times. I think it would be better to simply use the proper names throughout the book to ensure that children don’t feel awkward or ashamed when using proper names themselves.
In summary: I highly recommend God Made All of Me to Christian homeschooling parents everywhere who want a simple and colorful way to teach their children about safety, speaking up about abuse, body positivity, and the importance of consent in everyday life.
Want a free copy of God Made All of Me? Enter our giveaway!
Justin and Lindsey Holcomb have graciously gifted Homeschool Alumni Reaching Out with two copies of their book to give away to our followers. To enter to win a free copy of God Made All of Me, you have three options (and you can enter all three ways!):
To enter through Facebook, you must do two things:
a. “Like” our Facebook giveaway post here.
b. After liking our Facebook giveaway post here, leave a comment on the same post about why you’d like to read God Made All of Me.
To enter through Twitter, you must do one thing: Retweet our giveaway tweet here.
To enter through Pinterest, you must do one thing: Re-pin this pin of ours on God Made All of Me.
Official rules are as follows:
1) You must be at least 18 years old to enter.
2) You must be a resident of the United States.
3) You are welcome to enter through all 3 of our giveaway portals (Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest), HOWEVER…
4) You can win only one giveaway prize total.
5) Winners will be randomly selected from all entries.
The giveaway opens immediately and will close this Friday, September 25, at 11:59 pm PST. Winners will be announced via the social media channel from which they were picked.
Legal disclaimer: This giveaway is coordinated by Homeschoolers Anonymous and Justin and Lindsey Holcomb. Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest neither endorse nor are sponsoring the promotion. No purchase is necessary to participate in this giveaway. All promotional material and images from God Made All of Me are shared with permission by the book’s authors. Homeschoolers Anonymous is receiving no compensation for promoting God Made All of Me. If you lack access to Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest and would like to nonetheless participate in the giveaway, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for entry.