I am a high school Family and Consumer Sciences teacher by trade. I teach about communication, healthy relationships, nutrition, finances, and (you guessed it) . . . sex. As a secondary health educator I thought I would have no issue having “the talk” with my elementary-aged kids. So when it came time to start discussing the topic of sex, porn, puberty, etc. my ability to calmly talk about stats and facts got lost, and my tongue-tied. How was I supposed to have this conversation with my own kids?
As an educator I immediately went into research mode and bought almost every book I could find on the subjects. Here is the list I compiled of helpful books to help parents talk about the birds and the bees and everything in between.
What is Sex?
1. “It’s Not The Stork!” by Robie Harris and Michael Emberley
Recommended for ages 4- 8
2. “Where did I come from?” by Peter Mayle
Recommended for ages 6-9
3. “It’s So Amazing!” by Robie Harris and Michael Emberley
Recommended for ages 7-10
These books all do a good job going over the basics of what is sex. They are great for reading aloud that can spur more conversation. As a parent reflecting on family values around sex is just as important as understanding the basics. Stopping throughout the book to input your own belief and morels is integral to educating our children.
On Body Safety
1. “My Body! What I Say Goes!: A book to empower and teach children about personal body safety, feelings, safe and unsafe touch, private parts, secrets and surprises, consent, and respectful relationships” By Jayneen Sanders and Anna Hancok
Recommended for ages 3-10
2. “Let’s Talk About Body Boundaries, Consent and Respect: Teach children about body ownership, respect, feelings, choices and recognizing bullying behaviors” by Jayneen Sanders and Sarah Jennings
Recommended for ages 4-10
3. “Some Secrets Should Never Be Kept” by Jayneen Sanders and Craig Smith
Recommended for ages 3-11
All of the above books by Jayneen Sanders do a great job covering body safety in different ways. Each book comes with discussion guides for the parent/caregiver/educator. Book 1 and 2 cover more whole body safety while book 3, “Some Secrets Should Never Be Kept,” tells a story of a little boy being sexually abused (in this book his “privates are tickled”) by an adult. Adult guidance the first time is highly encouraged to make sure themes are clear and understood. Frontloading with what are our privates and what does private mean would be important. Each book has different things to offer around the important message of body safety.
On Puberty and Body Changes
1. “Celebrate Your Body (and Its Changes, Too!): The Ultimate Puberty Book for Girls” by Sonya Renee Taylor
Recommended for ages 8-11
2. “Celebrate Your Feelings: The Positive Mindset Puberty Book for Girls” by Lauren Rivers MS
Recommended for ages 8-12
3. “Growing Up Great!: The Ultimate Puberty Book for Boys” by Scott Todnem
Recommended for ages 8-14
I have been blown away by how amazing these puberty books are. They are thorough and self-affirming; inclusive and empowering. These are great for reading aloud to younger audiences or independent reading for older kids.
1. “Good Pictures Bad Pictures Jr.: A Simple Plan to Protect Young Minds” by Kristen A. Jenson and Debbie Fox
Recommended for ages 3-9
2. “Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids” by Kristen A. Jenson and Debbie Fox
Recommended for ages 8+
The amount of digital access to porn is astounding. Children have more access to more graphic material than ever before. Having online safety conversations around pornography is an important first step in keeping our children safe.
“Unmasking Sexual Con Games: Teen Guide” By Kathleen M. McGee and Laura Holmes Buddenberg
Recommended for ages 12+
Talking about sex, relationships, and safety doesn’t end after you’ve introduced the topic to your elementary-aged kid. The conversations continue. During my search for resources, I found this amazing book for teens about dating safety.
Studies consistently show that parents and trusted adults are the people who most influence teens’ sexual/relationship decisions. The conversation starts early. Build up those lines of communication now. Build the foundation needed to support your kids as they get older and the consequences get bigger. You got this!