My dad friend from high school suggested this topic. He has three boys; the oldest is in 4th grade. He said that he attempted “The Talk” but his son was really embarrassed and shouted him out of the room. That got me thinking: 1) I need to The Talk myself. 2) Why re-invent the wheel? I don’t know exactly what to say either, but why do we parents always try to do everything ourselves? 3) ugh!
This is a big topic of discussion among the 4th grade moms that I know. Whenever I’m at a mom event and I run into the moms of my oldest daughter’s friends, we all confer among ourselves … have you had the sex talk yet? It requires lock-step coordination because we all know this information will be widely shared among the group of about a dozen girls who run a in a loose pack. There are several mom worries: I don’t want my daughter to feel left out or ignorant; I want to give my daughter correct information because who knows how distorted the information will become; I don’t want to overwhelm her with too much information; and I want the information to be at the right level given that my daughter is less sophisticated than many of her friends (she is the oldest, after all). Whew! Add that to an uncomfortable topic and you get … procrastination!
I’m a book girl, and I bought an appropriate book years ago and squirreled it away for the right time. But when is the right time? Does it need a preface introduction, i.e. Sex Ed 101 before handing it over? Finally, after realizing that 3rd grade is probably the right time, I’m now a bit behind.
So I just handed her the book (Understanding the Facts of Life) and said, “This is an interesting book. Read it over and then I’ll go over it with you.” My husband was alarmed by the fascination my daughter had with the book. Finally, I sat down with her to answer questions. She immediately turned to the sex section, but … phew! she was mostly confused by the illustration in the section. I had to admit, it was confusing, albeit, a scientific illustration depicting the uterus, vagina, and penis in cross-section.
My mom friend who is an elementary school psychologist did not get off so easy. She gave her daughter several books. Her daughter read them diligently and then asked her, “It says in my book that adults have sex for fun. Do you and dad have sex for fun?” This mom is the unfazed type. Her response: “That is an inappropriate question and I’m not going to answer that.”
This is the book I used: Understanding the Facts of Life. It’s very matter-of-fact and science-y in a Biology 101 way. I find that I just read the chapter in question and answer questions, typically related to the science-y vocabulary. It’s not embarrassing in any way, covers all the necessary topics, and is very informative. I do recommend it. And a neighbor’s mom friend borrowed it several years ago for her son and it worked well for her so it’s a unisex sex book!
I would love your comments and advice on this topic!
The Uncomfortable Birds and Bees Talk with Your Kids
For those who want a Birds and Bees “Lite” book, several moms have recommended the American Girl Series It’s a Girl Thing. I’m told the body changes are limited to body odor. The bestselling “It’s a Girl Thing” has a new little sister that’s just right for younger girls curious about what puberty will bring.
A thank you to reader Nancy, who recommends The Care and Keeping of You by American Girl Series for an elementary school girl, and It’s So Amazing!: A Book About Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies, and Families for a middle schooler and elementary school girl.
The Care and Keeping of You
The bestselling guide has sold more than 3 million copies! It answers all the questions preteen girls have about their bodies, from healthy eating to bra buying to periods. It offers guidance on basic hygiene and health without addressing issues of sexuality.
It’s So Amazing!: A Book About Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies, and Families
How does a baby begin? What makes a baby male or female? How is a baby born? Children have plenty of questions about reproduction and babies — and about sex and sexuality, too. IT’S SO AMAZING! provides the answers — with fun, accurate, comic-book-style artwork and a clear, lively text that reflects elementary-school children’s interest in how things work, while giving them a healthy understanding of their bodies. Created by the author and illustrator of IT’S PERFECTLY NORMAL, this forthright and funny book — newly updated for its fifth anniversary — covers similar territory but with an eye toward younger children’s concerns.
Here are two books for boys:
What’s Going on Down There: Answers to Questions Boys Find Hard to Ask by Chava Castro
My Body, My Self For Boys, revised 3rd edition (What’s Happening to My Body?) by Linda Madara
Usborne Flip Flaps: How Are Babies Made?
Perfect for siblings who are getting a new brother or sister. [picture book, ages 2-6]
It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex and Sexual Health by Robie H. Harris and Michael Emberley
My Mom Friend loaned these books to me. Turns out that our neighbor, Preschool Director Mom Friend, had a hand in them. This covers sex, and masturbation, and has lots of pictures of naked bodies. It’s perfect for middle school age, Mom Friend and I agreed. Not all the sex-ed books cover sexual intercourse and masturbation to such a degree as this book. It’s a classic and still relevant. Recommended for ages 10 and up.
It’s Not the Stork! A Book about Girls, Boys, Babies, Bodies, Families, and Friends by Robie H. Harris and Michael Emberley
I like this book for 2nd graders … roughly around age 7 or 8 particularly for kids who are very inquisitive about this topic. I’m thinking of my middle child. It’s by the same author as It’s Perfectly Normal, but this book is more targeted at answering the question of how are babies made? This would be especially good for families with big spans between siblings. Other nice features of this book are All Kinds of Families and Okay Touches, Not Okay Touches. The trio of books by Robie H. Harris is nice to have. (The third book is It’s So Amazing above.)
Girlology: A Girl’s Guide to *Stuff that Matters (*Relationships, body talk & girl power!) by Melisa Holmes, M.D. and Trish Hutchinson, M.D.
This is an excellent book for phase two of the sex talk (i.e. when your daughter is sexually active or on the precipice). Yikes, did I say that? That is freaking me out! And, that my friends, is why we need this book. [for ages 8and up]
Author Melisa Holmes left a comment about her latest book, Girlology’s There’s Something New About You: A Girl’s Guide to Growing Up, appropriate for girls 8-11 (i.e. Middle Grade).
You-ology: A Puberty Guide for Every Body by Melisa Holmes, MD, FACOG; Trish Hutchison, MD, FAAP; Kathryn Lowe, MD, FAAP
Review from Lee Wind:
“What if learning about changing bodies wasn’t secretive or shameful? And what if it could even be inclusive, fun, and, well, kind of adorable? A new kind of puberty guide, You-ology embraces an inclusive approach that normalizes puberty for all kids. For curious kids and parents looking to talk about puberty in an inclusive way, You-ology offers fact-based, age appropriate, and body positive information about the physical, social, and emotional changes ahead for all kids.” [for ages 9 and up]
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BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.
24 thoughts on “Birds and Bees Talk”
I have (slightly) older girls and found the book It’s So Amazing to be a wonderful resource. We have also liked the American Girl Care and Keeping of You book.
Thanks for the book suggestions!
It’s So Amazing is also appropriate for elementary school aged children.
Thank you for your great book suggestion. I am adding it to my post!
Just wanted to add that Girlology has a newer book out specifically for girls 8-11 called, Girlology’s There’s Something New About You. It covers all of puberty without any of the sex/reproduction topics (and more than just body odor!). It’s the perfect first book on puberty! And thanks for mentioning our other Girlology book as the second phase book! You’re exactly right – it targets late middle school girls and covers sexuality, reproduction, early relationships, setting boundaries and making healthy decisions. Learn more at our website http://www.girlology.com.
Thank you for the heads up. I will add it to the list.
My mother handed me a book and then we discussed after – I think it was 3rd grade. I really liked this approach!
I have a book called How Was I Born by Lennart Nilsson. The focus of the book is the pregnancy and birth with lots of photos including in utero one!
Thanks so much for the book recommendation! I’ll add it to the list. Sounds like a good one that covers different material from the others.
New recs- What’s Happening to me? And Changing Bodies, Changing Lives
To Capability Mom,
Thanks so much for the new recs!
Oh geez. I am so glad I have a few years before I have to deal with this but sadly it seems like it gets earlier. I don’t think my friends and I got the Talk until we were in the 6 or 7th grade. But totally bookmarking this post for future reference. Or I may go out and buy the books now and pull them out in 5 years. Awesome post!
You have PLENTY of time though you are right that it starts earlier and earlier! My 4th grader just explained the sperm and penis to egg fertilization concept to my 7 year old son on the way to Panera and I had to beg her not to discuss further in a public spot as she has a loud voice that carries. At least her info was accurate! She says it’s from the lift the flap Usborne books about How Babies Get Made. Great! and ugh!
We also own What’s The Big Secret? Talking about Sex with Girls and Boys by Laurie Krasny Brown, Ed. D. and Marc Brown (think Arthur books and show).
Thanks for your great book recommendations Laura! I will add to the list!
My 3 yr old son just asked my husband about this subject last night. Specifically he asked when he was going to have a baby in his belly. When my husband answered it lead to more questions. So glad I pinned this list.
Sounds like your son is a curious little guy. There is a cute picture book with flaps by Usborne on that list that would be perfect for a 3 year old. My kids liked that book and it gives a good foundation on the basics of how babies are made.
Thanks for sharing this! Pinning it to reference later 🙂 I know we’ll need it!
Thanks so much for pinning! I’m going to need a boy book version myself too which is new to me.
Oh wow! I am so not ready for this topic yet…Munchkin just turned 7 though, so I guess I need to get ready…
You still have time! 🙂
You’re a brave woman, Mia 🙂 I’m sure many people will appreciate your thoughtful list. We purchased a set of Christian books on this topic because we want to teach our children what Scripture teaches about God’s gift of sex. I know what you mean about wanting to teach the oldest who is a little more naive than children with older siblings. Our oldest is just 6, and we’ve started with the simplest book. But I know the time for the BIG talk will come soon enough! Thanks so much for linking up.
Thanks so much Anna! What book did you get? I’d love to add it to the list!
Hi again!We have the Learning About Sex series from Concordia Publishing House. I couldn’t find an author listed, and I’m not allowed to leave the link in this comment. 🙂
What a great suggestion. I’ll add them to the list. Sorry about not being able to add a link. I think my CommentLuv does that to prevent spam.