It's never to early to talk to kids about their bodies and these books will get the conversation started
I am a big believer of the importance of talking to kids when they are little about their bodies, their parts, consent and sex. And it's a conversation not to have just once, but often, offering age-appropriate information as they grow.
Here are nins books to talk bodies, sex and consent with your kids.
Amazing You! Getting Smart about Your Private Parts (Dutton Children's Books)
This book, written for preschoolers, is a good way to start talking to kids about the parts of their bodies – both the ones you see on the outside like your legs and arms and those underneath clothes, or your private parts. Author Dr. Gail Saltz talks about the funny names people have for those private parts as well as the real names and the importance of knowing what those parts are really called. The book talks about what the parts will do when kids get older and what happens when the egg meets the sperm. The end message is the book encourages kids to look in the mirror and appreciate what makes them, them.
The book is written in a story format with little ones in mind, and while there is lots of information, it's just shared as facts.
My body belongs to me (Free Spirit Publishing, PGC Books, https://www.pgcbooks.ca/)
In this rhyming books for little ones, we meet a little boy who understands his body belongs to him – his knees and elbows as well as his private parts. The boy's parents have told him if anything happens to him, he needs to tell them. One day, the boy is at his uncle's house and his uncle's friend touches him in a place no one else can see.
“I got so scared I froze and just stayed where I sat. I thought: This is MY body! Why did he do that?”
The adult tells the boy it's their secret, but the boy tells his parents what happened. His parents believe him and he feels better, and knows it's not his fault.
This is a great story to not only start the conversation with little ones about touch and telling adults if something happens, but I think the other message is equally important – that the boy froze, even though he knew what that man did was wrong. I think that is really important to share.
There is a letter to grown-ups, suggestions to share this book with children and more information.
My body belongs to me is by Jill Starishevsky and illustrated by Angela Padron.
Me and my Body Discover your incredible body (DK Books, https://www.dk.com/ca/)
In this DK book for little ones, kids learn about how super they are – from building a person to super skeleton and special senses.
Each page offers lots of information, but it is shared in bite-sized pieces so kids can learn in chunks. There are lots of pictures, both real and illustrated to show kids the layers of their skin, for example, or the parts of the brain (and what it does). My only complain about this book is that it says babies grow in their mommies tummies. While the tummy is an easier explanation, it's not the right one and much like a penis shouldn't be called a weenie (see Amazing You), the correct information should be provided.
Sam! (PGC Books, https://www.pgcbooks.ca/)
Sam loves riding his bike and making dinosaurs out of clay. His sister, Maggie, annoys him because she is bossy, but sometimes they have fun, too.
One day after school, Sam pushes past his sister crying.
“Maggie chased Sam to the crosswalk and stopped him. 'Isabel, what's wrong?' she asked.”
To the world Sam is Isabel, a girl, but to Sam, he is boy and each time someone calls him a girl he feels his spirit and laughter is trapped. Eventually Sam tells Maggie that he is boy and Maggie helps him be himself.
Sam! Is by Dani Gabriel and illustrated by Robert Liu-Trujillo.s
It's So Amazing, A Book about Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies and Families and It's Perfectly Normal, Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health (Candlewick Press, www.candlewickpress.com)
It's So Amazing by Robie H. Harris and Michael Emberley is for kids ages seven and up and covers such topics how babies really begins; same and different (boys and girls); female and male parts; what's sex (female or male, loving, making love and making a baby), becoming a baby (by birth or adoption) and what makes you you (chromosomes and genes).
Before the reader gets into all of that, we meet the Bird and the Bee (get it?). The bird is curious about everything and thinks it's amazing, while the bee would rather not know and is often embarrassed about what the bird is sharing. The book is a mix of information and graphic novel, with Bird and Bee offering some comic relief and extra information.
I particularly liked The Big Race, Sperm and Egg Meet (Chapter 11), which shows the sperm racing toward the egg in a funny comic strip.
It's Perfectly Normal is for those 10 and up and and explains more about kids' changing bodies, puberty, sex, birth control and pregnancy. Bird and Bee are still there as well as fairly graphic pictures including body parts and birthing. We also get Further Adventures of Egg and Sperm, this time on the pregnancy journey.
The Boy's Body Book, Everything You Need to Know for Growing Up You! (not pictured, Applesauce Press, www.cidermillpress.com)
This book provides the facts for growing boys from changing bodies and what that means (healthy eating, acne, shaving, wet dreams) to changing relationships (how to talk to your parents, how to be friends with your siblings) as well as being safe – exercise, showering and dealing with bullies. There is expert advice as well as thoughts and opinions from kids. There is lots of great information, but shared in a fun way (with not too much to read).
real talk about sex and consent (Raincoast Books, www.raincoast.com)
Consent is more than no means no. In Cheryl M. Bradshaw's real talk about sex and consent what every teen needs to know, she helps teens (and pre-teens) navigate sex and intimacy. The book helps teens learn about sex, “setting boundaries, how to say no and staying true to yourself.”
Bradshaw begins the book with stories of her own and those of the teens she counsels in her private practice.
She explains what consent is and what it isn't and talks about the importance of the differences.
She explains why we do the things we do in situations we feel dangerous in (like shutting down) and then provides skills to ensure teens are able to get out of those situations before they get into them.
I interviewed Bradshaw about this book. Read it here: https://booktime584.wordpress.
The Big Questions Book of Sex and Consent (Raincoast Books, www.raincoast.com)
The Big Questions Book of Sex and Consent by Donna Freitas provides information to help teens think about sex and consent and find the answers that work for them.
The book shares lots of information, but it's laid out in a way that makes it easy to digest. A paragraph or two of information, then lists or a box where it asks the reader a question and asks him or her to think about the answer.
“What this book is not: The fear-based How-to on sex and consent, oversimplified and focused on technicalities that represent so much of our sexual education today.”