Lotsa brown

Thinking ahead...

It's time to start adding to the home library.  Any suggestions for a good, preferrably Canadian and feminist book on where babies come from/puberty/sexuality (I *hate* the term "facts of life") for kids (or girls) around 8? 

I was also going to add to the list not overly heteronormative**, but since the "where babies come from" thing is primarily heterosexual intercourse, I figured that I might be asking too much, but if you do have a source that avoids privileging marriage as the (only) way babies are made, that would be better.  (And yes, my daughter had asked why her friend has two mommies and how the gestating mom got pregnant, so far the answer "artificial insemination at the hospital" hasn't produced further questions).

As for books, my quick seach has yielded one that sounds good: Boys and Girls and Body Science, though the sociologist of health and women in me bristles a bit at the idea that reproduction should be thought of as "science" when it is a complex social and biological process, not just putting you know what into you know where*.

There haven't been a lot of questions about all this at home yet, and "the plan" is to just start buying some books and leaving them around.  A fellow parent is doing this after going to a workshop on children and sexuality and I think this is a good way to promote a discussion-positive household that values healthy sexuality. 

Which means working on my own skills in the discussion-positive area since that wasn't how I grew up (I had good information, but this was not a topic of discussion in my house outside that time when I was about 10 and mom took out the encyclopedia). 

I'm not at the stage where I take Sue Johanson's advice and tell the kids we're having sex and they should not bother us and we lock the door.  Mostly because I figure it'll be just like when I'm in the bathroom--it's an invitation to bother me.

*Yes, I'm being funny.  And, I'm trying to avoid too much p*rn spam.

**Heteronormative--see it in action here.  And my complete agreement with the opinion expressed about the crappy essay here.  Racist, heterosexist, get the idea.


When two of my family members, now adults, were ready for this talk, their mother was very happy to have "Where did I come from?". I remember liking its approach at the time, but don't know how it stands up to our changing mores around these things. (Their reactions were characteristic - one got a little anxious and asked, "But little kids don't have to do that, do they?"; his sister giggled and asked, "Does it tickle?"

I really like the Body Science book-- mainly for it's factual, non-giggly approach. It fit the tone of my ad-libbed-kitchen-table sex ed chats.

This book is not Canadian and I can't say whether or not it's feminist but it's what I read with my oldest son. It's called "It's So Amazing" by Robie Harris. I loved it because it was quite specific, not cutesie but still kid level and definitely alternative lifestyles friendly.

He loved it and now has moved on to the second book, It's Perfectly Normal for the puberty questions.

Ok, it's not Canadian, but "The Care and Keeping of You" isn't a bad book. It's less technical than some of the others about where babies come from but deals a lot about the changes that girls go through during and just before puberty. It's really like a little owner's manual for a changing body and does a pretty good job of convincing girls that lots of different things can happen and they are all normal. I think I bought Miss E her copy at age 7 or 8.

Try the Toronto Womens bookstore or Another Story bookshop. Good For Her might even have good suggestions.

Let me know what you find!

The following are not Canadian but have the Tigger seal of approval. They talk about both boys and girls. Include non-hetero-families. Etc. One is for younger kids and the otehr for slightly older. You might want both. I found out about them when bloggers were talking about the ACLU banned books list.

It's Perfectly Normal

It's So Amazing (I think this is the younger one)

Both by Robie H. Harris

Oh, and they have cartoons and other stuff that kids (esp. visual learners) like and a cool bird and Bee with a rather humourous side conversation going on. On the cover of it's So Amazing the bee is saying "Can we talk about something else? ANYTHING else?"

I'll never think about Lake Woebegone the same way again.

Maybe, looking back on it, I never really liked it as well as I thought I did.

Oh my. I am absolutely, completely and utterly in love with that Lizard Ridge thing you made...I'm going to have to learn how to do that.

When my sister and I started asking questions about the logistics of reproduction, we had family movie night: "The Miracle of Life" from Nova.

It explained things clearly AND had super-cool images of what was happening to and inside the bodies of everyone involved.

hi! i've been reading your site for about a year now, but i haven't commented until now. hello! just wanted to throw my two cents in on the books. there is this great english author/illustrator named babette cole. the one i'm thinking of is called "mommy laid an egg" (or "mummy laid an egg" i'm not sure.) basically when the mom gets pregnant, the parents try to tell the kids this cutesy story about where the baby came from, and then the kids have to draw diagrams for the parents about how it *really* happened. she has written a lot of really great books. there's this other one called "princess smartypants" where the princess is feeling pressure to get married. the king and queen bring in all of these princes and she plays mean tricks on them. at the end, she kisses a prince and turns him into a frog. (you wanted feminist!) check out "dr. dog" also, it's about common health issues, like getting a cold, or whatever. enjoy!

oh! and i forgot one! the babette cole book about puberty is called "hair in funny places."

i'm still a fan of the 70's classic "our bodies, our selves". it's got that 70's feminism thing going on, very no-nonsense and real about what goes on in the body. there's an edition for girls, and an ediion for boys, and each has a comprehensive chapter about the oposite sex. the older editions are stil very hetero-centric, mostly because homosexuality wasn't as "mainstream" but i believe the updated editions actually include more information about alternative lifestyles (for lack of a better word coming to my mind right now) and other methods of conception.

Hmmmm. I guess telling her 'the thingy goes into the woowoo' won't work? I had to learn about it on the streets and J&J pamplets I sent away for. I guess it was a cultural thing with my Mum. From what I remember all those decades ago I didn't like the frou-frou crap.

Go to your local library. There's a few Canadian titles out there but a lot of them are out of print. Is there a Gay and Lesbian teachers association there? They should have a list of recommended reading.

You're so lucky.

I was given "What's Happening to My Body? Book for Girls" at around age 11 or so. It is a very good book for the technical biological details of periods and so on. It is fairly heteronormative, but it was written a while back. It isn't everything you're looking for, but the author (who wrote it with her daughter) did teach classes on this stuff.

I was given Changing Bodies, Changing Lives (by the Our Bodies, Ourselves folks, I believe) and I was glad to have it.

"It's Perfectly Normal" is a great book (as many have mentioned). Both of my kids (a boy and a girl, now both older-and-wiser teenagers) enjoyed the book when they were in that "curious" stage, and my husband and I found it factual without being judgemental. It features a variety of body sizes/shapes, is not completely heterosexually based, and --- who can resist the comic-book style sperm?

I usually lurk around here for the knitting, but I just wanted to pop in and say how completely awesome you are. That is all. (Nope, nothing useful to offer about books. Sorry.)

No advice on books (I don't think my parents actually gave me any), sorry. I did want to say, though, that I never ever liked Garrison Keillor. I hate the sound of his voice (a crime in small-town Indiana) and now I'm glad to have something tangible to defend my dislike. So, thanks for that.

And "It's So Amazing" (by the "It's Perfectly Normal" team) is targeted for a little younger audience (my 9 year-old son likes it). It's in comic book style, which makes it so non-threatening.

I like it that it has sections on masterbation and homosexuality that are just so laid back and "okay" in their vibe.

A wonderful book for girls about puberty is American Girl's "the Care and Keeping of You." It doesn't address reproduction as much as growing up issues related to girls. I highly recommend it.

One of my favorite books is called "Period".

Ready, Set, Grow! by Lynda Madaras. My daughter read and reread this book from when she was 8 until she was 11.

Have you looked into Sue Johanson? She has a book called Sex, Sex, and More Sex which probably is more for you to read and then pass on the info. She also has a website. I've been lucky enough to hear her speak (about senior's and sex) and she is undoubtedly the best on this subject. And she is 100% Canadian!

Oops! Sorry! You have looked into her!

Oh my-My daughter just turned 9, and the questions, I swear, started the exact minute she turned 9!!!! If you don't mmind, I am going to peek at your comments and get some ideas for books myself. Oh- and it looks like I am now going to get paid-thanks for your help with info. I also just got my book- loved your hat pattern.

They've been mentioned, but I'll add my vote -- I was at a friend's recently, and her daughter has the books "It's So Amazing" and "It's Perfectly Normal," and they looked awesome. And they covered not only hetero intercourse, but adoption (by various couples and singles). Lots and lots of info and good illustrations. And funny! My friend's daughter loves them.

Meg Hickling! She doesn't use euphamisms or silly stories. Straight forward, empowering truth.

Someone's already mentioned it but it bears repeating:
"It's Perfectly Normal" by Robie H. Harris and illustrated by children's illustrator Michael Emberly. I gave it to my daughter whwn she was ten. We read it together and I know she still refers to it at 13. I HIGHLY recommend it. It covers the science but also topics such as sexual health, sexual choices and all the related feelings with great sensitivity. There are also short chapters on HIV/AIDS, homosexuality and abortion. I got my copy at Good For Her.

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