Content Guidance: This post contains images of the male and female body, and sexual intercourse (all taken from the books I am recommending). Sharing in case you have a child peering over your shoulder and would rather not have them see images like this at this stage.
My daughter has recently turned 10. She is divine in every way, but I definitely feel like I am entering unchartered parenting territory as she transitions into the tween years. I learned how to mother an infant through instinct, but have a wealth of professional experience with the 2-10 years age bracket. Parenting a child age 10 years+ is very much out of my comfort zone, so as well as learning on the job, I am turning to evidence based research, just as I have done for every other phase of my parenting journey.
Today's blog post includes recommendations for books that I have read (or am currently reading) with my daughter to help her prepare for the physical and emotional changes she will be going through over the coming years. It may be that your child can confidently read these books independently. I am intentionally choosing to read these aloud with my daughter, so that she has a chance to ask any questions, and so that I can add personal stories and examples to bring some of the content alive for her. She has access to these books, so she can revisit them if she wants or needs to. I am also sharing the books that I have been reading to help me understand and support her on her journey.
The recommended reading age for this book is 7-11 years, but I'd personally say that it was more suitable for the 5-8 year age bracket in terms of content and style. This is because I'm keen to have these important conversations with my daughter long before she experiences any changes herself, and before she discusses things 'in the playground' with her peers. Bean was gifted this book at 8.5 years, and having already covered the topics included as they came about in general conversation, I'd say that she was probably at the upper age limit for it.
Having said that, she did enjoy the opportunity to snuggle up with her Mama and have an uninterrupted, dedicated reading session on topics that are of great interest and relevance to her. She had this beautiful sense of pride about the changes coming after reading this book together. Each double page spread has a variety of lift-the-flap questions, with the answers underneath. The information presented is basic and factual, but I think it makes a great introduction for young children and can be a useful starting point for further conversation.
A small point worthy of noting is that, on the cover, the question 'Where do babies come from?' is presented, but there is no answer inside the book. If you haven't covered that with your child yet and were hoping for support, or if your child is curious and looking for answers, then you may be left feeling disappointed.
This book is newly published this year. We have it out on loan from our library and it is excellent. This Amazon review sums it up perfectly:
'This is a diverse, inclusive and richly informative, gem of a book. It details the biological logistics of how a baby is made while outlining the various social and personal situations a baby may be brought into. This is all done in a sensitive and inclusive way while maintaining appropriate terminology without using too much jargon. I love that IVF, adoption and same sex families are included, it equips children with the knowledge to have open and accepting minds, thus encouraging kindness and empathy. A basic introduction to sex is provided and, most importantly, it’s discussed as a way to show love and that having sex doesn’t always mean a couple wish to make a baby. A touching detail in this book is the gentle and compassionate information about miscarriage and prematurity. I really don’t think this book could be any more inclusive or considerate. A sensitive account of gender is given towards the end of the book and it even informs the reader that some people have operations to make the outside of their body better fit the way they feel on the inside. The message that every type of family is equal and loving is reinforced throughout and is the reoccurring and reinforced message in this perfect introduction to reproduction'.
The recommended reading age is 6-10, which I'd have to agree with. It's not too information heavy, nor does it go into too much detail. At the end of the book there is a page of illustrations of different types of families, which Bean used to demonstrate her understanding of what we had read. For each family we discussed whether it was sex, sperm or egg donation, IUI, IVF, surrogacy or adoption that had helped them grow their family.
As you can see from the image above, it does include a picture of love making with the penis inside the vagina. I wasn't prepared for that when reading it with my daughter (although was obviously not surprised either), but it wasn't an issue for us because we had already talked about it. Bean was interested (and a bit disgusted) in the image, but she didn't dwell on it. I'm sharing here so that you are not taken aback when you come across it. None of the other books for children mentioned here include an image like this (there's a similar image in the Usborne Facts of Life Growing Up book, but it's more scientific/anatomical).