We encourage parents to have small, frequent discussions about sexual health with your children (or, Little Talks). That can be difficult for a lot of parents, especially if sexuality wasn’t something that was ever discussed with you as a child or teen. One way to begin the discussion is through reading books together. We found three books that we think are a great way to start the conversation with your younger kids.
What Makes a Baby
by Cory Silverberg, illustrated by Fiona Smyth
At first glance, this book looks like it came straight out of the 1960s. The illustrations are bright, swirly, and entertaining. The story talks about the very basics of how a baby is made—through an egg and a sperm. It keeps things specific enough for curious children, but vague enough that you can decide where to fill in the blanks. This is a great book for all children, whether they were conceived traditionally, adopted, born through surrogacy, or any other way. Reading this together affords an opportunity to discuss how they came to be in your life. It will also allow you to open the door to other conversations about sexuality and allow your child to feel comfortable coming to you with questions.
I Said No!
by Zack and Kimberly King, illustrated by Sue Rama
This book is written with preventing child sexual abuse in mind. The story is told from the point of view of a child named Zack and the lessons he’s learned. The length of this book and the amount of words per page will be difficult for younger children, but can be divided into several reading sessions combined with discussions about the topics. It covers a lot of ground and will give you a lot to think about and talk about with your child.
Your Body Belongs to You
by Cornelia Spelman, illustrated by Teri Weidner
This is a book with a message. The author, a licensed social worker, starts the book with two pages for parents about not forcing your children to show affection when they aren’t comfortable doing so. The book goes on to expand on this theme, referring directly to the child or children to whom the book is being read to. The writing is simple, easy-to-read, and will be easy for children to understand. The illustrations aren’t that great and, though the message in the book is good, made it a more difficult book for some of the parents on our staff to get their child to engage with. However, it’s a great book to start a discussion about safe touch and uncomfortable touch.
Don’t expect these children’s books to do the teaching for you. They’re only getting the conversation started. It’s up to you to make sure that your child is getting the information, answers, and understanding that they need for their age and maturity level. We recommend reading the books by yourself first, so you can anticipate some of the questions that may come up when you read it with your children. While talking about sexual health can seem daunting at times, books are a great way to get the conversation started.
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