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Teaching Your Kids About Sex:

Picture Books

These books are aimed toward children preschool age through mid-elementary, with the most recommended books listed first. All books can be found at Amazon.com.

Mommy Laid An Egg! or Where Do Babies Come From?
by Babette Cole
Ages 4-8, 40 pages
Published by Chronicle Books, 1996 - ISBN: 0811813193

Writer and illustrator Babette Cole won the LA Parent Magazine Book Award for this decidedly non-sentimental look at where babies come from. The book begins with the parents telling their kids all the fanciful myths about babies' origins - "You can make them out of gingerbread," "Sometimes you just find them under rocks." Then the children, amused at their parents' lack of knowledge, proceed to explain just where babies do come from, complete with child-like illustrations. A wonderful book, with just enough information for small children. (Click here to read what Kirkus Review has to say.)

Where Did I Come From?
by Peter Mayle, Arthur Robins (Illustrator) Ages 4-8
Published by Little Brown & Co, 1984 - ISBN: 0316042277

I had this book when I was a child, and it hasn't changed a bit. The author explains the "facts of life" in a very matter-of-fact, humorous way, with illustrations that look like anybody's mom and dad. The book addresses the names of body parts, the process of intercourse, pregnancy, and birth. Kids will understand the description of orgasm in terms of a big sneeze, and intercourse is compared to jumping rope ("You just can't do it all day long."). And they'll love the sperm dressed up in tuxedos.

A Kid's First Book About Sex
by Joani Blank and Marcia Quackenbush (Illustrator)
Ages 4-8
Published by Down There Press, 1993 - ISBN: 0940208075

Probably most parents will find this book to be "too much about sex" for their children - although nothing in the book is inappropriate. This is the only book I reviewed that mentioned nothing about pregnancy (there is a brief mention of fertilization). Instead, it's all about being familiar with your body (there are several drawing exercises, and a workbook is available to purchase separately), good kinds of touching, masturbation, and in general helping the child to decide for him or herself what "sexy" means. There's also some brief discussion about partnerships (heterosexual or homosexual). The drawings are simple lines, and there's very little clinical language. This is a great book for open-minded, sex-positive families to share.

How Babies Are Made
by Andrew C. Andry, Steven Schepp
Ages 4-8
Published by Little Brown & Co, 1984 - ISBN: 0316042277

Originally published in 1968 by Time-Life Books, this book hasn't changed either - and it needs no revision to remain up-to-date. It actually addresses "the birds and the bees": beginning with flowers, then moving on to chickens, dogs and finally humans, the authors show how reproduction happens in a similar way for all types of living creatures. The brightly colored paper cutout illustrations hold a young child's attention, and keep even the most squeamish parent from being embarrassed.

So That's How I Was Born!
by Robert Brooks, Susan Perl (Illustrator)
Ages 4-8
Published by Aladdin Paperbacks, 1993 - ISBN: 0671783440

Joey comes home from school, confused and upset about what his friend told him about how babies are made. Told in a narrative fashion, this book briefly addresses body differences between boys and girls, intercourse, fertilization, pregnancy and birth. But more importantly, it also presents the ways in which children might react to this knowledge: with disbelief, discomfort, and even disinterest. The story shows Joey proceeding at his own pace, and his parents supporting his decisions to ask questions or walk away to play. The drawings are a little overly cute, but in general the author presents a believable and truthful story.

You Were Born On Your Very First Birthday
by Christa Kieffer (Illustrator), Linda Walvoord Girard
Ages 4-8
Published by Albert Whitman & Co, 1983, 1992 - ISBN: 0807594563

A very pretty and sensitive book about pregnancy and birth (does not deal with conception). It is told from a second person point of view, as though the child being read to was the infant. The author focuses on the feelings of the mother while she was carrying her baby: what it felt like when the infant kicked, how the infant was fed, etc. Includes good in utero descriptions and drawings. Lacks multicultural drawings.

Girls Are Girls and Boys Are Boys: So What's the Difference?
by Sol Gordon, Vivien Cohen (Illustrator)
Ages 8-12, 48 pages
Published by Prometheus Press, 1991 - ISBN: 0879756861

While this book addresses differences in biology between girls and boys, the main focus is on refuting stereotypical gender roles in a humorous way. It includes culturally and racially diverse, realistic pencil drawings of boys and girls. Although the age range suggests an older audience, it seems to me this book would be more appropriate for children in the 6-10 year range.

Did the Sun Shine Before You Were Born
by Sola Gordon, Judith Gordon, Vivien Cohen (Illustrator), Sol Gordon
Ages 4-8, 48 pages
Published by Prometheus Press, 1992 - ISBN: 087975723X

Simple illustrations and explanations of the process of intercourse, pregnancy and birth. Stresses the idea of the parents having good feelings about creating a child together.

What's the Big Secret?: Talking About Sex with Girls and Boys
by Laurie Krasny Brown, Marc Tolon Brown
Ages 4-8, 32 pages
Published by Little Brown & Co - ISBN: 0316109150

The light tone of this book helps make the topic a little less serious - but instead of being funny, it's overly cute and tiresome. The pages are cluttered with cartoonish drawings, and there's not enough content to make it stand out on a shelf with other books of its kind. Kirkus Reviews suggests that "the book errs by providing both too much information and too little," with complicated descriptions of physiology, but not enough explanation of coitus or ejaculation. (You can read the rest of the review here.)

Better books are available in the Discussion Book section.

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