Riggs, S. (2007). Not in room 204. Morton Grove, IL: Albert Whitman.
Mrs. Salvador has plenty of rules for her classroom: turn in quality work, no fighting, keep a tidy work space, be polite… Regina Lillian Hadwig, a quiet but excellent student, is very appreciative of Mrs. Salvador’s rules. Mrs. Salvador asks her about her quietness; Regina confirms that she is quiet at home and begins to think about a secret she keeps from her mother. In February, Mrs. Salvador discusses stranger danger and inappropriate touching by others with her class. She tells her students that if any of her students are ever touched where they shouldn’t be touched, they could tell her and she would know what to do. The next day, Regina comes in early to tell Mrs. Salvador that she has been touched somewhere she should not have been.
Impressions: I cannot say that I have read a picture book that handles, or even discusses, sexual abuse so carefully and in a manner that children will understand. I did not expect this topic from the title but I am certainly glad that I read it. As a mother I am happy to see to know it exists, happy to know that it can assist me in having these conversations with my children easier. In, general, I was impressed with the content over everything else. The illustrations did not particularly do much for me, though.
Review: “Gr. 1-3. It is regrettable that there is a need for books for young children dealing with the topic of sexual abuse, but this straightforward story effectively fits the bill. Young Regina likes her new teacher Mrs. Salvador very much, and as the school year progresses trust builds between them. When Mrs. Salvador says during a Stranger Danger unit that if someone is touching a student in an inappropriate way, she knows ‘exactly what to do to help,’ Regina finds the courage to tell Mrs. Salvador about things her father does that ‘not even her mother knew.’ Zollars’ bright, graphic illustrations help keep the story reassuring and upbeat without diminishing the importance of the topic. A note at the beginning stresses the need to broach the subject of sexual abuse with children and gives guidance for helping to prevent it.”
Tillotson, L. (2008, January). [Review of the book Not in Room 204, by S. Riggs]. Book Links, 17(3), p. 19.
Library Uses: Sexual abuse is a topic that is typically swept under the rug and as a result, I don’t expect many parents or children to be inquiring about it. However, I can see educational professionals, such as teachers, requesting books on the topic. Having this information handy for when professionals or teachers want to talk about stranger danger is ideal. Additionally, it is a great addition to library displays during child abuse prevention week that typically only feature non-fiction books. If I were a school librarian, or even planning to become one, I would certainly recommend teachers to read it for themselves.