Fact Not Fiction provides resources that teach people about sex education and help them to make better and healthier choices. In honor of National Parents’ Day on July 26, we reached out to a parent of young children who is introducing body safety and sex education to her children.
Though I’d like to think I have a sex-positive attitude, I haven’t exactly been looking forward to talking with my two children, ages 3 and 6, about sex. But when the 6-year-old randomly asked me where babies come from one night during his bedtime story, I knew it was about time for us to start the conversation.
I’ve been looking for resources that focus on the anatomy and biology of conception, as well as boundaries and body safety. After doing some research and talking with friends who are introducing these subjects to their kids, I’ve collected a few resources to consider:
Anatomy & Body Safety
1. No means no!, by Jayneen Sanders, illustrated by Cherie Zamazing
Ages: 2 – 9 years / Grades K-3
This book is for “Teaching children about personal boundaries, respect and consent; empowering kids by respecting their choices and their right to say, ‘No!’” It’s short and simple, following a school-aged girl through common situations involving touch: her grandma wants a kiss, her cousin likes to play tickle and wrestle games, and her friend wants to hold her hand. The message to kids throughout is that what’s okay is up to them, and they can politely decline a touch or suggest an alternative. Most importantly, “No means no!”
2. My Body! What I Say Goes! written by Jayneen Sanders, illustrated by Anna Hancock
Ages: 3 – 10 years / Preschool – Grade 4
This is “a book to empower and teach children about personal body safety, feelings, safe and unsafe touch, private parts, secrets and surprises, consent, and respectful relationships.” It’s surprisingly comprehensive while also being simple and engaging enough for my 3-year-old. The book uses the correct names for private parts and encourages kids to ward off unwanted touch with the firm statement, “This is my body! What I say goes!” and a report the incident to a trusted adult.
Sex & Conception
Though I haven’t read the following books myself, a couple of open-minded mom friends have recommended them, and they are well reviewed:
3. What Makes a Baby, written by Cory Silverberg & illustrated by Fiona Smyth
Ages: 3-7 years / Preschool – Grade 2
This book focuses only on conception and reproduction, without mention of gender or intercourse. It also portrays both vaginal and Cesarean birth. One Amazon reviewer says that it’s “a great book not only for queer couples but also for anyone who’s had a baby through assisted reproduction,” and another believes it’s “for every kind of family and every kind of kid.” On the other hand, a different review notes that the book has characters that are “amorphous, neon blobs that barely have faces, let alone genitalia.”
4. It’s Not the Stork!: A Book About Girls, Boys, Babies, Bodies, Families and Friends, by Robie H. Harris
Ages: 4 – 8 years / Preschool – Grade 3
Reviewers tend to appreciate the straightforward information and proper names of anatomy, as well as the biology of conception. Many think the level of detail about sex is more suited for kids 8 and older, and some aren’t crazy about the “special kind of loving” that the illustrated man and woman are enjoying under the sheets! Still, this book is well-regarded by parent and school publications and most Amazon reviewers. There are two other books in this series for older children: It’s So Amazing!: A Book about Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies, and Families (Grades 2-5) and It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health (Grades 5-6).
While I haven’t settled on which resources I’ll use with my kids on these topics, I’m leaning toward Amaze Jr., with its free videos for parents how to talk with young kids about sex and when to start, and for kids on how babies are made. They’re well-produced, engaging, and share clear information, while also being age-appropriate.
6. Today’s Parent’s How to talk to your kids about sex: An age-by-age guide
This guide gives age-appropriate tips for talking to kids in each of these age groups: birth to 2, 2 to 5, 6 to 8, 9 to 12, and teenagers.
Having “The Talk” with your kids about anatomy, body safety, and sex isn’t what experts recommend; instead, it’s a series of conversations. It’s important to show them that you’re willing to share information and welcome their questions without shame. Start the conversation early in their lives, and let them know that you’re always there to listen.