“The birds and the bees.”
“The facts of life.”
Are you sweating yet? If you’re the parent or caregiver of a young person who is entering puberty, this topic probably keeps you up at night. Discussing sex and reproduction can be extremely nerve-wracking for both kids and adults — but it doesn’t have to be! I’ve compiled a list of popular puberty books for children that you can use as a conversation starter about entering adulthood.
“Sex Is a Funny Word”
Colorful and inclusive illustrations, paired with short texts, make this a great choice for the curious kid. This primer into the world of body positivity and awareness should ideally come as soon as a child starts to experience adult feelings and their bodies begin the first stages of puberty. There are some illustrations of naked bodies, but this book doesn’t delve deeply into the specifics of puberty transitions. The easy, simple text makes this a good choice for reading together with an adult or reading independently as a conversation starter. Recommended for ages 7+.
“Welcome to Your Period”
This is a fantastic guide for young people preparing to menstruate for the first time! The goal is to inform, empower and inspire youths to confidently navigate the murky waters of puberty while uplifting their peers as well. While this is a book for females starting their periods, they use lots of inclusive phrases such as “adults with uteruses” and “menstruating adults.” The descriptions of the different types of menstrual products (pads, tampons, period panties and menstrual cups) and how to use them are well explained and have helpful illustrations. The authors dispel many misconceptions about periods and encourage the reader to advocate for their own body and health. Recommended for ages 9+.
“It’s Perfectly Normal”
This book is an encyclopedic collection of information about changing bodies, growing up, sex, gender and sexual health. “It’s Perfectly Normal” has been a popular choice for more than 25 years for educating children transitioning into adulthood. This book is text-heavy but has a simple, child-friendly, science-based approach. There are lots of illustrations of naked, diverse bodies, body positivity and child-friendly diagrams of the sexual organs with labels and brief descriptions. This book discusses the puberty process in scientific detail, even explaining the Latin roots of words. No concept is too big to introduce for this first health book: self pleasure, chromosomes, sex, pregnancy, birth, artificial insemination, types of birth control, abortion, sexual abuse, STD’s and HIV are all on the table. Recommended for ages 10+.
PUBERTY. SEX. SEXUAL IDENTITY. BIG BOLD LETTERS PEOPLE CAN READ FROM OVER YOUR SHOULDER.
“Wait, What?” is written in the form of a comic and is the perfect coming of age resource for the graphic novel lover. The book starts with the basics — the male and female body parts and how they develop during puberty. Then, it gets into all the taboos: self-discovery, sexuality, gender and consent. The book is designed as a general overview of what teens and their peers are going through and how to be an inclusive human while navigating the tricky world of puberty. “Wait, What?” focuses on the social aspects of puberty and growing up, which I usually find lacking in the more “scientific” factual books. This would pair nicely with a more specific gendered book for the types of bodily changes a tween/teen is experiencing and gets a 10/10 for diversity, inclusion and affirmation of all peoples. Recommended for ages 12+.
“Making a Baby”
For younger siblings who are curious about changing bodies and where babies come from, check out “Making a Baby” by Rachel Greener. This brand new inclusive picture book is great for kids four and older to talk about bodies, babies and everything in between. The illustrations spare no details, so make sure to flip through it yourself before sharing it with your little one. Recommended for ages 4+.