6 Books to Teach Kids About Sex, From Toddlers to Teens

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in YummyMummyClub*

My mom gave me my first-ever book about human sexuality, and it was wonderful for three reasons — reading about sex was fun, I learned some really useful things, and my mom had given me a pretty clear sign that she was comfortable with me learning about sex.

Sex ed books for kids can help provide answers to their questions and prompt further discussion with parents and caregivers. As a parent, they’ve helped me develop child-friendly language so that I can talk to my own kid about sex without totally going over his head. These are six of my favorite sex-ed books. They range in suitability from toddlers right up to teenagers and cover a wide subject range.

“What Makes A Baby” by Cory Silverberg

Credit: Amazon.com

Suitable for: Toddlers and up

One of the first sex-related questions many children ask is, “where do babies come from?” Six educators Cory Silverberg has created a book that explains conception, pregnancy, and birth in a simple, concrete way that young children can easily understand. But what makes this book extra-special is the way the story works for children who come from adoptive, single-parent, poly-parent, foster, multi-generational, gender diverse, sexually diverse, and traditional families. “What Makes A Baby” is a book for every child who wants to know how they came to be.

Also, Fiona Smyth’s illustrations are magic. Her whimsical characters rendered in bright colors make every page an attention grabber.

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“Nonnie Talks About Gender” by Dr. Mary Jo Podgurski

Credit: Amazon.com

Suitable for: Kindergarten and up

I had the privilege of meeting educator Dr. Mary Jo Podgurski at a recent conference, and I instantly fell in love with her. She’s open, warm, and exceptionally wise when it comes to sex stuff. So I admit, a big part of me loves this book because I have a huge professional crush on the woman who wrote it.

I also love the book because I know gender is not vulva=girl, penis=boy. What I don’t always know is how to get out of that binary mode and paint a bigger gender picture for my kid. I don’t want to oversimplify it, but I can’t use my grown-up, theoretical language with a seven-year-old. So how do you explain gender diversity to a second grader? Mary Jo knows! “Nonnie Talks About Gender” illustrates the concepts of gender, gender identity, and gender roles using everyday language that young kids will understand. It’s an interactive book, divided into short chapters, with discussion prompts at the end of each one. There’s a teaching guide for adults, plus a glossary and a list of resources. It’s a great book for children, but it’s been a really valuable learning tool for me as well!

“It’s Not The Stork,” “It’s So Amazing,” and “It’s Perfectly Normal” by Robie H. Harris

Suitable For: Preschoolers/early elementary/mid-elementary and up

I love these books because they cover a lot of material and teach kids about sexuality using humor, compassion, and positive language. The books follow the adventures of the open-minded and enthusiastic Bird and his slightly more reserved pal, Bee. They want to understand more about human beings and how our bodies work. All three books have lots of pictures. There’s ethnic, age, and body diversity. Different types of families are represented. In “It’s Not The Stork,” Bird and Bee learn about body parts, how babies are conceived and born, and good and bad touches. In “It’s So Amazing,” they learn more about conception and pregnancy, adoption, sexual safety, and some basics about sexually transmitted infections. And finally, inIt’s Perfectly Normal,” Bird and Bee find out how human bodies change through puberty, relationships, making sexual decisions, taking care of sexual health, sexual diversity, gender diversity, and social media.

These are books that parents can read with their children. They’re also books that kids can thumb through on their own. You can read them from cover to cover, or you can jump to a particular section and save the rest for another time. They’re my son’s favorites and he looks at them all the time.

“SEX The All-You-Need-to-Know Progressive Sexuality Guide to Get You Through High School and College” by Heather Corinna

Credit: HeatherCorinna.com

Suitable for: Teens and up

I love this book because Heather Corinna’s website, scarletteen.com, is one of the best Internet resources for teens wanting information about sexuality. In SEX, Heather takes the same sex-positive, non-judgmental approach to sex ed that she does online. I really appreciate the respectful tone of this book. She trusts her young reader can use the wealth of information she’s provided to make positive decisions about their sexual health and behavior.

No one book can cover every aspect of adolescent sexuality…but SEX comes as close as any I’ve read. Heather Corinna’s writing is casual, relatable, and authentic. It’s easy to understand why so many young people trust her to tell them the truth about sex. If you’re looking for a sex ed book to add to your teen’s library, I highly recommend having a look at this one. Speaking of sex ed, have you talked to your kids about condoms yet? And you know what’s always hilarious? Period (seriously, trust me on this one).

Republished with permission from the YummyMummyClub*

About the Author

Nadine Thornhill is a sexuality educator and author based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. As an educator, Nadine knows the importance of being able to talk honestly and openly about sexuality. As a mother, she understands the desire for parents and educators to find effective ways of communicating with youth about sexual issues. Nadine is committed to making information about sexuality accessible to anyone who wants it and sharing what she has learned firsthand – that teaching young people about sex can be a very positive experience for everyone involved. Follow Nadine on Twitter.

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