The Best Books on Talking to Kids About Sex

Do you like talking with kids about sex? Neither do I. It’s an awkward topic, but one that every parent has to take on at some point in their child’s life. I’m a big fan of starting these talks early. I feel that as soon as my kids can ask questions, they deserve answers. Because everyone in my house loves to read, books play a central role in getting that information across.

The books serve two purposes: they provide a starting point for conversation with kids, and a safety net if the conversation totally fails. The first time my husband tried to talk to his adolescent son about sex, they had a short, mutually monosyllabic conversation. But at the end of that talk, my husband gave his son a book about sexual health and safety. Even if he wasn’t willing to talk about it, we knew the kid had access to the information should he need it.

Here are the books we've shared with our young kids:


So That's How I Was Born!

by Robert Brooks, illustrated by Susan Perl

This book covers exactly what the title says: how babies are born. It’s another one with cartoon-like illustrations, and an overall soft, comforting aesthetic. This is the book we had around the house when I was growing up, and I remembered it fondly and wanted to share it with my kids. Some of the text is euphemistic and dated ("when a mommy and a daddy really love each other..."), but it’s still heartwarming.


It's Not the Stork: A Book About Girls, Boys, Babies, Bodies, Families and Friends

by Robie H. Harris, illustrated by Michael Emberley

Robie H. Harris has written three books about sexuality for different age groups. They all feature clear, straightforward factual information combined with humorous cartoon images and candid questions. This one, for preschoolers, covers the basics of how bodies change during adolescence and how parents make babies. It also contains a very short passage about appropriate boundaries for touch and personal privacy. If you are going to buy just one book about sexual health for this age group, this is the one.


Mommy Laid an Egg: Or, Where Do Babies Come from?

by Babette Cole

This book is hands-down the kids' favorite. It's a hilarious tale of befuddled parents trying to teach their kids the facts of life. The parents tell the kids that babies are squeezed out of toothpaste tubes, grown in flowerpots and delivered by birds. Finally, the kids set them straight with a funny, straightforward account of sexual development, sexual relations, pregnancy and birth. Most-repeated phrase around my house: "...and the Mommy gets fatter, and fatter, and fatter."


It's Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health

by Robie H. Harris, illustrated by Michael Emberley

This is the book to give your child for his or her 10th birthday. Another tactic a friend of mine took was to leave a copy of it lying around the house until it disappeared into her adolescent child’s bedroom. This book, a follow-on to It’s Not the Stork, answers questions kids have about their changing bodies, emotions and desires with clarity, honesty and humor. It’s accurate and thorough without seeming overwhelming, and a great resource for teens to keep going back to.

This book also appears on The 10 Most "Challenged" Books of 2007


Changing Bodies, Changing Lives: Expanded Third Edition: A Book for Teens on Sex and Relationships

by Ruth Bell

This book, from the publishers of Our Bodies, Ourselves, provides the same kind of exhaustive, encyclopedic answers to teens health concerns that Our Bodies, Ourselves offers to women. Every family should have a copy of this on their bookshelves. It’s a vital resource for teens and the adults who care for them.


Deal with It! A Whole New Approach to Your Body, Brain, and Life as a gURL

by Rebecca Odes, Heather Mcdonald, Esther Drill

I gave this book to my little sister when she hit puberty. It has a fun, cool approach to girl’s questions about bodies, sex, self-care and growing up as a girl. I liked the punk aesthetic of the book, and the tone felt very real to me as a teen girl. It was like a conversation with another teenager, but one who was not as confused and ill-informed as most teenagers really are. One with answers, and accurate, smart answers at that. A definite win.