You may remember GeekMom’s rollicking sex ed day a couple of weeks ago. Andrea and I posted our respective views on talking to kids about sex, which is way more openly than the average mom, judging from the comments. (Here is Andrea’s post, and mine.)
Several commenters on those posts asked for or suggested good sex ed books for kids, so we decided to follow up with some book reviews.
Here are our recommendations. Please buy one or two and leave them lying around the house, preferably in the bathroom. If all goes according to plan, they will disappear.
It’s So Amazing! by Robie Harris and Michael Emberley
Reviewed by Jenny Williams
It’s So Amazing is an excellent book for young kids to teach them about things such as where babies come from, eggs and sperm, boy parts and girl parts, what sex and love are all about, and what happens during pregnancy and birth. In the section on love, it talks about all kinds of love, including the love you feel for a pet, a friend, a parent, or a partner. It puts the same value on heterosexual and homosexual relationships. It also covers topics such as multiple births, genetics, adoption, what kinds of touches are okay and not okay, and a little bit about sexually transmitted diseases. It is aimed at kids age 7 and up, but it can also be used for younger curious kids. The book is very heavy on tasteful drawings, which show what is going on without revealing too much. While this book does include some information on what happens to girls and boys during puberty, that isn’t its main subject matter, so once your kids get to be 9 or 10, another book would be a good idea, perhaps the book that follows this one by the same authors, It’s Perfectly Normal.
It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris and Michael Emberley
Reviewed by Kate Miller
This book is perfect for kids age 10+. I know it’s perfect because when I handed it to my 10-year-old son, he flipped through it and said with disgust, “Jeez, Mom, is this just a book of cartoon pictures of naked people?” He then proceeded to never put it down. As a follow-on to It’s So Amazing, above, this book takes the same subject matter and advances it in complexity and frankness for its older audience. It still uses the same open, colorful, fun illustrations and authoritative yet friendly tone. A cartoon bird and bee go through the book with the reader, getting just as engrossed — or grossed out — as a young reader might. This gives the reader a couple of fun friends throughout. This book will present to your kids all the topics that might make you squeamish: sex, contraception, diseases, homosexuality, abortion, pubertal changes, masturbation, you name it. This edition also has new information on HPV, infertility treatments and using the internet safely. As a reproductive health professional myself, and as a mom on the northern-European model of talking openly with kids about sex, I endorse this book with all my heart and mind. Get it!
On Your Mark, Get Set, Grow! by Lynda Madaras
Reviewed by Allison Clark
I’m of the “be frank” school of sex-ed, meaning whenever my 10-year-old son asks a question, I don’t mince words, I just tell him the truth before I have a chance to get embarrassed about it. (This often has the effect of grossing him out, but I’m OK with that.) Lynda Madaras’ book for boys 8 and up takes a similarly frank approach. It’s not about sex, but rather boys’ changing bodies and what they can expect from puberty. It covers the things moms might blanch at, from morning wood to concerns about boys’ adequacy “down there.” It also tackles b.o., acne, hair growth and other puberty concerns, all in the same no-nonsense tone you’d expect from a health educator with 25 years of experience. As this book would mortify my son, possibly fatally, if I read it with him, I just put it in a prominent place in his room so he could refer to it any time. Upon first read, I was totally shocked at the, um, “street language” some of the Q&A sections use, but I’m glad this book exists. He’s going to hear all of this stuff from other boys, so he might as well have accurate information.
Mommy Laid an Egg by Babette Cole
Reviewed by Judy Berna
If you’re a bit bored by the run of mill, ordinary facts of life, it might do you some good to check out a book called Mommy Laid An Egg by Babette Cole. Be forewarned, you definitely need to preview this book before you share it with young children (it was banned in some libraries, just so ya know). The story starts with a mom and dad doing their best to explain where babies come from. They come up with some pretty wild stories, including delivery by dinosaur and finding them under stones.
Their children laugh at their attempts and then, in turn, describe the real facts of life to their parents. And things get pretty graphic. Even for stick figures. As far as the mechanics go, let’s just say stick figures are capable of being pretty x-rated. On one page the boy is pointing out a simplistic drawing of male parts, with an arrow leading to the page where the girl is pointing out the female versions. Along the line between them are the words “this fits in here.” Just the facts, ma’am. The next page is the one that might catch you by surprise. In the same simple stick drawings we see “creative ways mommies and daddies can fit together,” including a few that I’d never thought of.
If you’re really open with your kids about how it all works, this book might just be for you. Because it’s all explained “by kids,” I’m sure kids will relate to it in a meaningful way. Just be sure you’re ready for the volume of information they might take away from this book and the suspicious way they may glance at you when you try to get them to go to bed early.
Everything You Never Wanted Your Kids to Know About Sex by Justin Richardson and Mark Schuster
Reviewed by Andrea Schwalm
Andrea put up her review on GeekMom a while back; you can read it here.