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Mini-Review: Sensory/Social Anxiety: Will Ladybug Hug?

by Katie Engen, M.Ed

This review is part of a series that examines different types of anxiety portrayed in nine picture books, offering readers an opportunity for social-emotional learning.

Will Ladybug Hug? by Hilary Leung (Cartwheel Books (October 30, 2018)

Physical contact is hard for many neurodivergent kids, and greetings and saying goodbye can be so tricky! While many naturally hug, slap backs, shake hands, and kiss hello or goodbye, others don’t have the same comfort with physical contact. Sometimes just having time to consider the options without pressure makes it easier to choose the best fit.

Crocodile likes side hugs. Bear hugs are big and warm. When it’s Sheep’s turn, Ladybug (and everyone else) cheerfully accepts Sheep’s quiet ‘no’ to the offered hug. By the time Ladybug suggests a group hug, Sheep is ready…for a high-five. Ladybug is thrilled and Sheep smiles comfortably. How nice to have friends who embrace you as you are.


The very Youngest Readers will take this board book at pretty much face value – and that’s enough. Any others can have some fun with greetings and departures. Find online videos of teachers greeting each student at the classroom door with a different handshake. Create a personal version for use at home, school, or with just one other person. Create a tutorial video (e.g. Flipgrid) showing examples of when it’s okay to use the various greetings/departures (e.g. kiss on the check = Aunt Frant, fist-bump = teammate).


Katie O’Brien Engen, M.Ed, currently works in private practice to mentor students with executive functioning and language processing challenges. She also writes stories and cross-curricular lessons to engage young minds with big ideas, does writing work for hire, and reviews books for various kidlit outlets. Katie is fueled by faith and laughter, and rarely is she too busy for family, sports, or ice cream. She lives in Maryland where one of her favorite runs is the ~10 miles to the Washington Monument in D.C. Learn more about Katie here.


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