Mr. Tickle... Not So Child Friendly
Updated: Aug 1
I'll start this post by saying I am not here to be the PC police by any means, but I felt uncomfortable reading this book so I wanted to share my thoughts. I was reading Mr. Tickle by Roger Hargreaves to my son the other day, and as I was reading it I got the distinct feeling something was not quite right or appropriate. I read the Mr. Men books when I was I child and I remember enjoying them, I don't remember them being inappropriate but I guess over time our perspective changes.
The book follows a creature called Mr. Tickle, who has impossibly long arms, as he goes around town tickling people. It seems fairly innocent and harmless but he goes around tickling people without their knowledge or consent. He reaches his impossibly long arms through windows and stays in hiding while tickling people all around town. Not only does he tickle everyone but when he does, things go wrong for the people. The policeman can't direct traffic and the poor postman drops all his letters in a puddle.
To finish off it ends with him threatening to reach through your door and tickle you which is honestly just a bit creepy. What makes it all worse is there are no consequences described for the chaos he causes and he sits back at home in his chair at the end laughing about it all. It can't just be me that thinks we maybe shouldn't be reading this book to our children.
In an age where we encourage our children to decided for themself if they want to be touched by another person, where we are trying to teach children about consent, this sort of book seems very counterproductive and dare I say dangerous. I have seen some fantastic books available that teach children it's OK to say no to being touched and this is absolutely the right message we should be giving our children. It is not OK to hug or touch someone if they don't want to be hugged or touched and tickling is just the same.
Teaching children about the concept of consent young will help breed a generation where there is a greater respect for personal boundaries. A generation of young men and women who feel empowered to say no and to not feel bad about it. These are important life lessons for all young children to learn. So why are we reading them a story about a man who goes around touching people without their consent, tickling them (which for some people can feel like torture). Not to mention the fact we shouldn't teach children it is OK for strange men to tickle them.
Reading this book made me feel very uncomfortable and I will not be reading it to my son again. We read Mr. Happy today and that one was much more wholesome. I encourage people to read the book for themselves and make up their own mind, but it is one I will be removing from our reading list.
Thanks for reading, this is just my opinion but I do encourage every parent to be aware of what your children are reading and make sure it teaches the lessons you want them to learn.