Last week, out of the blue, my 4.5 year old asked me, ” but how does the baby get IN the mommy’s belly?” In a not-my-best-parenting moment I cheerily said, “Hmmm I forget! I’ll have to look it up and get back to you.”
Up until this point we had gotten by with a great book called Amazing You. It’s a perfect first book on where babies come from and I recommend it, but it does not address the sex part at all so I looked for some more books on the subject.
Books in hand, I had the official talk with my daughter a few days later. As it is with many parenting milestones, the talk was much less of a big deal than I thought it would be. I read “Where Did I Come From?” to my daughter during bath time. “The penis goes in the vagina?!” she asked incredulously, crinkling her nose. She decided that sex sounded “yucky,” said that she would marry a boy in her preschool class, and that they would adopt. Then she changed the subject.
She did indeed have more questions over the next few days and I was glad I had all of the books to help out. Here’s a round up of the books we’ve read:
Amazing You by Gail Saltz, Illustrated by Lynne Avril Cravath
We’ve already had this book for a year (since my daughter was 3.5) and it’s a great starter book about private parts and how babies are made. The explanations are simple and the illustrations are sweet.
“Where Did I Come From?” by Peter Mayle, Illustrated by Arthur Robins
Arthur Robin’s illustrations in “Where Did I Come From” are amazing and super-70s. Check out the chunky nude mom and dad below. The book is written warmly and concisely and covers all the bases from body parts to birth. I loved it as a child and I loved rereading it as an adult. The one part that may make the more shy parent squirm is the fairly detailed description of sex over four spreads (pun intended).
It’s Not the Stork! by Robie H. Harris, Illustrated by Michael Emberly
This is the most comprehensive book, clocking in at 56 pages with an index and table of contents. It covers everything from the difference between boys’ and girls’ bodies (all the books do this but you will get the most detail here), sex and birth (caesarians are covered in an easy-to-skip paragraph if you like), okay and not-okay touching, and different types of families. In fact, I learned a few things too.
Who Am I? Where Did I Come From? by Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Illustrated by Jane Massey
Leave it to the former Israeli soldier-turned-sex educator to deliver (pun intended) a warm yet straightforward, simple description of sex and birth: “At some point, the grown-ups might decide to try to get pregnant and have a baby. So, the man puts his penis inside the woman’s vagina. This is called having sex.” The book is written with Dr. Ruth as the narrator and it easy to hear her voice in your head when you are reading it. The book is great.
And here’s a book which we do not own yet but, with the number of gay and adoptive families we know, we may add it to the library soon.
“What Makes a Baby is my response to the fact that books about where babies come from leave many of us out. They tell a nice story (mommy + daddy + intercourse = you!) but the truth is that more and more of us are acknowledging the help we get to bring children into our lives. That help might be a doctor, fertility clinic, adoption or foster agency; it might be a turkey baster and a friend; it might be a sperm donor or a surrogate. What Makes a Baby helps parents tell children a story about where they came from that isn’t just true for them, but true for everyone. ”
Do you have a book you’ve used to teach your kids about sex? Do you remember one from childhood? We’d love to hear about it!