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Jayneen Sanders: "Educating to Empower" (Body Safety, Consent, Respect, SEL)

Jayneen, thank you so much for speaking with A Novel Mind (ANM) today! Your company is called Educate2Empower, a name that so clearly encapsulates your mission. Can you elaborate, for those who are new to your work, about your overall mission and the variety of books you publish? 


Jayneen: Our mission at Educate2Empower Publishing is to educate and empower children and the caring adults around them. We specialize in children's books and resources that address critical topics such as Body Safety, Consent, Gender Equality, Respectful Relationships, Social & Emotional Intelligence, Inclusion and Diversity. I basically write all the books we publish at Educate2Empower, and when I write these books, I always come from an educational lens (as I was a teacher). I know exactly the knowledge outcome I wish for the reader to come away with.

In saying that, however, my children’s books are for both the child and the adult reader. I most often include questions within the story, and Discussions Questions at the back of each book to further draw out the learning. This way the child and the adult can share the experiences and vulnerabilities which consequently build trust and safety.

Discussing ‘tricky’ topics with children from a young age teaches them not only the skills they need to navigate the world but that the adult reading with them is trustworthy and safe, and is willing to talk about all kinds of sensitive topics. A child growing up knowing that ‘nothing is off the table’ makes for a child, teenager and young adult who feels safe with that adult, who will come to them with any concerns or worries, knowing they will be believed, listened to and helped. I believe my books are not just ‘books,’ but vehicles of connection and trust.



ANM: Tell us a bit about the educational and family resources on your site, how they were developed. 

Jayneen: We have many free resources on our site as well as books and lesson plans. In my research into the topics I write about via conferences (both online and offline), online interactions, podcasts or book readings, I establish where I think there is a ‘need’. I identify a problem and try to create a solution using child-based language and visuals.

From that point, I write them into a Word document, send them to a designer and find an illustrator to work with. We often provide free resources such as posters and activities for families and organisations who can’t afford my books. And we also have a ‘Giving Back’ section on our website where we provide books and lesson plans free of charge to non-for-profit organisations – mostly in third world environments.


ANM: Your book INCLUDED is one I recommend constantly. Tell us a bit about how this special book came about. 

Jayneen: My youngest daughter is studying to be an Occupational Therapist. She also works part time as a support therapist with kids with disabilities. She would often tell me about kids she worked with who just wanted to fit in with their peers but were not included in their play. This made me very sad. So I wrote ‘Included’ so ALL kids understand that kids with disabilities are just like them. They love to be silly, play, read and want to be included. I really believe society needs improve its game and not marginalise people with disability, but rather be inclusive and embrace diversity in all its wonderful rainbow colors!


ANM: Why is it so important to teach children about body safety and consent? 

Jayneen: Because an empowered child who know their rights in regard to their body is an empowered teenager and an adult. Teaching children their rights from a young age provides them with a voice that needs to be respected and adhered to by all, including adults. With 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys experiencing some form of sexual abuse before the age of 18,* it is imperative that children know the difference between safe and unsafe touch, and what to do if they are ever touched inappropriately. It may be a ‘tricky topic’, but it is a crucial one. And a topic we, as a child’s safe adult, should never shy away from.

 ANM: You are adept at framing heavy or difficult topics in very age-appropriate ways. Do you have any advice for other writers on how to approach this? 


Jayneen: I guess I am fortunate, but I do remember what it was like to be a child. And as I write, I imagine I am that child, and the language I use in my books reflects that. Also, I am a teacher, so I am used to breaking down difficult topics into simple phrases and words that children understand. My books always have a very close link between text and illustration; one never contradicts the other.



ANM: Many writers, parents, and educators are fearful of mentioning "tough topics" with children. Here in the US, we are having a shameful epidemic of book-banning, of a misguided few trying to keep knowledge and awareness of the world, of life, away from young people. Is there anything you'd like to say about this? 


Jayneen: The world is currently a very divisive place. Ironically, quite the opposite to what I aim to teach and portray in my work. I am very hopeful this younger generation coming through will embrace diversity, and be so much more inclusive than previous generations.

I believe teaching such topics as consent, respectful relationships, gender equality and body safety in schools and kindergartens will counteract this conservative wave. There is no place for book-banning and the like. The world has moved far beyond that rhetoric, and conservative voices trying to hold us back will only cause younger people to grow stronger in their protest.


*[Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2005). Adverse Childhood Experiences Study: Data and Statistics. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Retrieved January 12, 2009]


Jayneen Sanders (aka Jay Dale) is an experienced early years educator, author, publisher and blogger. Jayneen writes children’s books on body safety, consent, gender equality, respectful relationships, social and emotional intelligence, diversity and inclusion. She believes empowering children from an early age makes for empowered teenagers and adults. 

Jayneen is Lead Author for the children’s literacy series ‘Engage Literacy,’ published by Capstone, and she has written over 130 titles for that series. 

Jayneen is importantly a mother of three daughters and has always advocated for their empowerment. Her ongoing passion for the safety and empowerment of children continues today with new manuscripts and free-to-download resources always in the wings. Jayneen’s work can be found at and on Amazon. 


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