In my workshops, I love to recommend books. I also frequently get emails asking for book recommendations–both for kids and parents. If I had to pare down the options to just 5, this is what I would choose.
I discovered on the World Health Organization’s website some years ago a page that (broadly) included Sex Ed as a human right. The idea makes absolute sense to me, and I’ve said that phrase many times ever since. Recently I needed to find the citation… and it took me for-ev-er. So, for my future self or anyone else… here’s a link to the WHO’s “working definition” about sexual health and sexual rights. They say:
“The fulfilment of sexual health is tied to the extent to which human rights are respected, protected and fulfilled. Sexual rights embrace certain human rights that are already recognized in international and regional human rights documents and other consensus documents and in national laws.”
and they list things critical to the realization of sexual health, including
“The rights to information, as well as education.”
So, it’s still just a “working definition” and not something that’s been fully ratified or whatever political process needs to happen for it to be an “official definition” but I’m putting it here so I can find it again the next time I need it! (and to share it with you, too, of course.) :^)
The International Women’s Health Coalition lists “comprehensive sex education” as part of their definition of sexual rights here.
In 1994 the United Nations convened the “International Conference on Population and Development” which also addressed sexual rights, and specifically the right to sexuality education. Wikipedia entry here.
National Sexuality Education Standards are here.
Recommended books about sex for kids
What’s the Big Secret is my recommendation for any age. It talks about pregnancy, sex, relationships, good touch, and privacy. Toddlers in the potty-training years especially find the page with the boy & girl peeing quite interesting.
It’s So Amazing is my recommendation for an older child, one who already knows some information and is now ready for more depth. The reading level in this book is upper elementary.
My favorite puberty book for girls is “The Care and Keeping of You.” This is part of the American Girl series, and there’s a second Care and Keeping of You, a Feelings book, and several more. They are all good. The first “Care and Keeping of You” has great information about puberty, but does not include any information about reproduction.
A good puberty book for boys is “The Boys Body Book.” One note about this book–it does use heteronormative language to talk about romantic feelings/attraction. (ie, it tells boys you might find yourself looking at girls a little differently.) That’s exclusive language and it’s my one big complaint about this book.
And for parents, I recommend
From Diapers to Dating. It’s a reference source and guide for all sorts of information about children and sexuality and development. The author is a minister, interestingly, and does address how to share your family values about sexuality with your kids as well.
There are many other good books, but these are my favorites. Happy Reading!
This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive compensation if you click the links and then buy. (and if you do, thanks!)
Thanks to the generosity of St. David’s Episcopal Day School, I am thrilled to invite you to a FREE 2 hour Beyond Birds and Bees Workshop.
Beyond Birds and Bees (SOLD OUT)
This workshop covers:
- Age-appropriate ‘Sex Ed.’
- Normal Sexual Behaviors, from birth to pre-adolescence
- Red Flag Behaviors: when to worry and what to do
- What’s an “askable parent”, and how to be one
- Typical questions kids ask, and how to answer them!
I have the pleasure of writing for SWParents.org occasionally. One of my latest articles has basic information that is important, and so potentially helpful in protecting kids, that although I don’t usually cross-post, I will today.
This is a topic that pretty much every one of us would rather not think about. But please do spend at least a minute on it–parents need this critical information. We can take steps to protect our kids from predators. Click the link below to read the article in full.
Head over to Southwest Parents to see a short (4 minutes!) video covering some basic information about talking with your children about sex. FYI, this video is kindof funny, because I say “use the correct terminology for body parts” without actually saying the correct terminology for body parts. Silly, I know, but the folks paying the bills really wanted things to be G-rated. (*) So other than the phrase “talking to kids about sex,” it is safe for work, even! :^)
If you’d like a refresher on what words I would have used, check out my article called “What are the correct names for private parts, anyway?”
(*) For the record, I think using the correct words for our anatomy is appropriate for all ages.
The Beyond Birds and Bees workshop is coming up in about 4 weeks. It’s been a while since I’ve given it, and I was thinking about it today–looking forward to it, really. BBB comes in a 3 hour format (the full workshop) as well as a 45 minute ‘sampler’ that I give at schools all over Austin. The sampler is very popular, and I was just sitting here comparing the two.
Three hours on this topic (healthy sexual development, signs of a problem, and how to talk about sex with your kids) might seem like a lot–especially when there is a 45 minute version available… after all, what parent has extra time to spare! (not me!) So why ‘should’ you take a 3 hour workshop on it? There are many reasons, but here are my two favorite:
1. You can ask questions, get specialized feedback, and really walk away with information that is specifically tailored to your family’s needs.
2. You get to practice! The sampler is great, but all you get to do in the sampler is listen to ME talk about talking about sex like it’s no big deal. In your head you might be thinking that it doesn’t seem so hard now, but there is a big difference between thinking and speaking, and especially between being on the hotseat to answer a question you didn’t see coming!
With the full BBB workshop, you’ll practice, and it makes a world of difference. Check it out!
In my workshops, I love to recommend books. I also frequently get emails asking for book recommendations–for both kids and parents. The most common request is for books about sex. If I had to pare down the options to just three, this is what I would choose. One is for little kids, one for older ones, and one book is for parents. For now, I’m going to just post the book photos/links up, but in later posts I will review each book individually.
What’s the Big Secret is my recommendation for any age. I DO recommend that you make up your own words with the younger kids, but the pictures are appropriate for any age. Toddlers in the potty-training years especially find the page with the boy & girl peeing quite interesting.
It’s So Amazing is my recommendation for an older child, one who already knows some information and is now ready for more depth.
And for parents, I recommend From Diapers to Dating. It’s a reference source and guide for all sorts of information about children and sexuality and development. The author is a minister, interestingly, and does address how to share your family values about sexuality with your kids as well.
There are many other good books, but these are my favorites. Happy Reading!
Note: I’m on leave for the summer. While I’m out, I’ll be reposting some of my more popular posts. Hope you enjoy them as much as I do. See you again in the Fall.
Good For Him! Tale from my grad school internship with the sex offenders. So many stories, this is one of my favorites.
Oh, Good Question! An unpleasant experience with a medical provider sparks a post on encouraging questions.
My Sock Drawer, Circa 2001. This post isn’t even particularly old, but I like the story enough to repost it anyway. ;^)
Earlier this week I had an initial appointment with a physical therapist. Towards the end of our visit, he gave me some instructions for things to do at home. I sortof understood, but wanted clarification, so I asked a question. This is where things went downhill.
Apparently, my question was a dumb one. I know this because the PT told me so. He tilted his head, raised his eyebrows, smirked a bit, and then repeated what he’d just said, with extra emphasis. The overwhelming message was “You should not have asked that-you should have been able to figure it out. Something must be wrong with you if you had to ask that question.”
In the Beyond Birds and Bees workshop, I tell parents to first respond to their kid’s questions about sex by saying “oh, good question!” While there are many reasons to do this, the primary reason is that it reinforces to your child that you are an askable parent. I think I want this PT to take my class. ;^)
From the perspective of the well-informed, basic questions can seem a little funny. But let’s remember 2 things-1, to be “ignorant” simply means that the person hasn’t learned it yet. And 2, each of us also started out with small steps, teasing out nuance and learning how to make our own inferences. If 1 + 2 = 3, does 2 + 1
also equal 3? …that sort of thing. That equation looks laughably simple now, but it was a lot harder when you were 5.
As parents, we know that learning is a life-long process, and that no one is an expert in everything. Children who are encouraged to ask questions, who see their parents acknowledging that they don’t know everything but will work to find answers-those kids are better prepared for a successful adulthood. Kids who don’t get that-the ones
who are made fun of for asking “dumb” questions-will stop asking questions. It’s sad, too, because as the questions stop, the learning slows. At the end of the day, the people who asked questions are the people who will know more.
So this week, in whatever you do, consider responding to every question with: “oh, good question.” Because, really, they are all good questions.
An askable parent is what you want to be. No matter what your family values about sex are, chances are that you want your child to share them. For your child to know your values, and to get accurate information, they need to feel comfortable talking with you about sex. That is an askable parent.
An Askable Parent does:
- Listen actively
- Stay on topic
- Respond positively
- Take the questions (and the child) seriously
- Stay patient and keep their answers brief
- Remain calm
- Take advantage of “teachable moments.”
An Askable Parent does not:
- Laugh at irrational questions (like, “Does a pregnant lady’s food fall on her baby’s head?)
- Say, “Go ask your father/mother.” (It’s important for kids to know
that they can talk about sexuality with either gender–that’s good role
modeling for any future heterosexual relationships.)
- Ask, “Why do you want to know?”
- Widen their eyes, tighten their neck muscles, and talk for 10 minutes straight without stopping!
Believe it or not, it’s not necessary to have the perfect answer to whatever Big Question your child comes up with. Questions about sex will come up again and again, at every age and stage. That’s why the most important thing that your child can learn is that you are the person to go to with their questions. Otherwise, they are likely to seek out the information from their friends–and chances are–that information will be inaccurate or even dangerous. So take a deep breath, smile, and say “oh, good question!”