"It's Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex and Sexual Health" by Robie H. Harris and Michael Emberley
I checked out this "New Edition: 20th Anniversary" from the library because the book was among the top 10 most challenged books in 2014 in the USA, as cited by the American Library Association's Banned Books Week.
While I wish there was more acknowledgement of gender variety (the presentation of gender is very binary, "Gender is another word for whether a person is male or female.") I applaud the clear, non-judgmental approach, especially in the "Who You Are: Straight, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender" chapter on pages 8-11.
Chapters (about four or so pages each) cover a wide range of topics, including sexual desire, sexual intercourse, puberty, masturbation, genes and chromosomes, the many ways to have a baby and family, birth control, abortion, cyber safety, sexual abuse, sexually transmitted diseases and making responsible choices.
Throughout are illustrations of three kinds. The first are a cartoon bird and bee character who banter and comment on the content, the bird more interested, the bee more reluctant to talk about sex. It's a touch of humor that is reassuringly there across some difficult topics. The second kind of illustration is frank and very diverse watercolor and pencil drawings of people: young, old, gay, straight, asian, black, white, latino/a, abled, disabled, thin, fat, tall, short, naked and clothed... The third are cartoon pages that reinforce and re-state the text's explanation of topics like puberty for boys and girls and "The Further Adventures of the Egg and Sperm: Pregnancy."
As author Robie H. Harris (a parent herself) explained, she wrote the book because she realized,
"How difficult but necessary it is to talk with children and teenagers about sex and answer questions about this complicated topic. I wanted my kids to stay healthy, so I had to give them accurate information."
I think that is absolutely true. And as a parent of a pre-teen myself, I just ordered a copy from our local indie bookstore to give them, so we can read and discuss together.
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