Age-Appropriate Books to Talk to Your Kids about Sex

Editor’s Note: Rachel Nafziger Hartzler, RN, MDiv, and an ordained minister in the Mennonite Church USA, originally compiled our list of “Age-Appropriate Books…” in 2012. TulsaKids updated this article in January 2020 with the help of Family & Children’s Services, who provided us with titles published more recently. 

Rachel Nafziger Hartzler encourages parents to “read the books yourself before reading them to your children to ensure that the book fits your theology and philosophy about life.”

What’s the Big Secret?: Talking about Sex with Girls and Boys by Laurie Krasny Brown and Marc Brown

Ages 4 to 10. Makes the content of sexual anatomy, sexual development, and reproduction seem like normal conversation for children and adults. Sensitive reference to masturbation and intercourse.

It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health by Robie H Harris and Michael Emberley

Ages 9 to 12. An updated edition of what is called the definitive book on kids’ sexual health. Includes a brand-new chapter focusing on safe Internet use. Universally acclaimed classic that is a cutting-edge resource for kids, parents, teachers, librarians, and anyone else who cares about the well-being of tweens and teens. Offers young people the information they need to make responsible decisions and stay healthy. A New York Times Book Review Notable Book of the Year and An American Library Association Notable Children’s Book.

*Note from Family & Children’s Services: This book was updated in 2014. The updated version includes information about internet use, gender ID and more that the previous version did not have.

It’s So Amazing! A Book about Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies, and Families by Robie H Harris and Michael Emberley

Ages 6 to 12. An enthusiastic bird and reluctant bee narrate the comic cartoon panels that illustrate human bodies and reproduction with an emphasis on how families are created, including adoption, with an overall spirit of celebration. Specific topics covered include intercourse, birth control, chromosomes and genes, adoption and adjusting to a newborn sibling. Masturbation, sexual abuse, HIV and AIDS and homosexuality are handled intelligently and sensitively.

*Note from Family & Children’s Services: This book was also updated in 2014. 

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Boys, Girls & Body Science: A First Book about Facts of Life by Meg Hickling

Ages 8 to 12. The story line is of a nurse talking to a class of young children, approaching the subject like a scientist (for example, scientists don’t say “yuck!” they say “interesting!”). Providing pertinent information without getting into topics a young grade-schooler might not be ready for.

The Amazing Beginning of You by Matt Jacobson and Lisa Jacobson (Zonderkids, 2002)

Ages 8-12. Illustrated with photos and diagrams and drawings. Explicit illustrations of prenatal growth and development. Explains the amazing truth about life before birth with respect for life and for the Creator who made each person unique.

What’s Happening to Me? A Guide to Puberty by Peter Mayle

Ages 9 to 12. During the past 30 plus years, more than a million preadolescents and adolescents (and their parents) have benefited from the humor and honesty in this straightforward book.  A few things are dated, e.g., the age of puberty has decreased, but reading it together continues to be a good way for parents to talk with children.

Note from Family & Children’s Services: This book was originally published in 1975 and republished in 2000. Some concerns about this book include the dated age of puberty. It also suggests that “boys and men like breasts.” This is one we would certainly recommend reading with a caregiver. 

Where Did I Come From? The Facts of Life without any Nonsense and with Illustrations by Peter Mayle

Ages 4 to 8. Now in use for a second generation, this easy to read and very explicit book with its silly but tasteful cartoon images covers the basic facts from love-making, orgasm, conception and growth inside the womb, through to the actual birth day. Gives the names and shows the important parts of the body.

Note from Family & Children’s Services: This is still a good recommendation. There is some concern about the male-centric focus of the sexual descriptions vs. the actual information about how a baby forms. 

Amazing You! Getting Smart about your Private Parts by Gail Saltz

Ages 4 to 8.  “A first guide to body awareness for preschoolers.” Straight forward without giving more information that most preschoolers would ask for. Good information for parents included. The text includes, “Lots of people have their own special names for their private parts, but it’s a good idea to know what the real names are, too.”

Newer Recommendations from Family & Children’s Services

The New Speaking of Sex: What Your Children Need to Know & When They Need to Know it by Meg Hickling. (2005)

All Ages. Amazon description: “This updated and expanded version of the bestselling More Speaking of Sex, continues to deliver no-nonsense facts in a humorous yet scientific manner. With new chapters related to the Internet, and multi-faiths, parents will find the latest and greatest information about sexual health. Meg Hickling gently dispels misconceptions and unhealthy beliefs about sex by telling even more humorous stories from over 25 years of experience working with children, families, teachers, and other professionals.” Continue Reading.

What is the Difference Between Girls and Boys? by Alicia Prescott (2017; Girls edition and Boys edition)

Ages 5-6. Shares proper names of body parts and in doing so supports that bodies are real and not a toy or a game to play with. Also shares functions of body parts, sexual development and more.

Boys Body Book. Everything You Need to Know for Growing Up You! by Kelli Dunham (2019, 5th Edition)

Ages 8-12 (Preteen). Information about bodies, texting, social media, peer pressure, language and social situations.

The Girls’ Guide to Growing Up Great: Changing Bodies, Periods, Relationships, Life Online by Sophie Elkan (2018)

Ages 8-12. Discusses basic body changes and functions, acne, social situations, sexuality and more.

Celebrate Your Body (and Its Changes, Too!): The Ultimate Puberty Book for Girls by Sonya Taylor (2018)

Ages 10-14. Includes information about girls’ bodies developing, feelings, friend, mood changes and navigating new situations during puberty, including social media.

Sex is a Funny Word: A Book about Bodies, Feelings and You by Cory Silverburg (2015) 

Ages 8-10 and caregivers. This comic-book style book discusses bodies, gender identity and sexuality.

What Makes a Baby? by Cory Silverburg (2013)

Ages Preschool-8. Information from conception and birth written in a way that supports however the family formed whether via adoption, surrogacy. Caregivers can educate with their own values.

Who Has What? All About Girls Bodies and Boys’ Bodies by Robie H. Harris (2011)

Ages 2-5. Answers questions children have about themselves and the world around them. Shares that their bodies are wonderful.

It’s NOT the Stork!: A Book About Girls, Boys, Babies, Family & Friends by Robie H. Harris (2008)

Ages 3-11. Answers questions children ask about their bodies, how babies are made and their families formed.

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Categories: Big Kids