I recently had the opportunity to look over No Thanks, but I’d Like to Dance, a semi-autobiographical fictional book written by Jackie Reimer. I like it so much that I’m going to include it in Little Otter’s Science – my human anatomy science program for preschoolers through about 2nd grade. I think it’s a great story for little ones to learn about not smoking as well as making good choices. The book has a simple but engaging story line with bright, colorful cartoon-like illustrations.
In the story, Grandma Bee is living with the consequences of choosing to smoke earlier in her life. Grandma has an oxygen tank and explains to her granddaughter Belle how her lungs were damaged from smoking. The consequences of this choice are serious, but nothing is presented in a scary way. Belle wonders why grandma ever took up smoking in the first place and listens in as her grandmother tells her about how she was a young woman at a dance was asked to try a cigarette and agreed to because it looked glamorous and everyone else was doing it. At the end of the conversation Belle exclaims:
“I know what you should have said when he asked you to smoke, Grandma!”
“You do?” asked Grandma Bee.
“YES!” Belle exclaimed. “You should have said, ‘No thanks, but I’d LOVE to dance!!!”
The story then goes on to talk about how Belle grew up and how people would ask her if she would like a cigarette (or other things not healthy for her) and how she would think of Grandma Bee and reply with “No thanks, but I’d LOVE to dance!” It is both sweet and empowering.
I think the way the story is set up encourages a child to rehearse saying no, long before a situation like that may come up. You can practice after reading the book with “No thanks, but I’d like to….” (fill in the blank with your child’s favorite activity).
It’s really hard to find appropriate books for younger children that cover concepts like this. I think that No Thanks, But I’d Love to Dance is a great opportunity to cover this very important message with your little ones. In my opinion, the age group that would get the most out this story is the pre-K through about 2nd grade crowd because of the simple text. I did read it though to my 4th grade son (who enjoyed it) and then followed it up with a BrainPop movie about smoking.
You can visit the author’s website for more information as well as free coloring pages that are perfect for helping to make the story stick. The coloring pages feature illustrations from the book so you can also get a sneak peek at the inside pages of the book from them.