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Need to Have 'The Talk'? Top 20 Parent-Recommended Books for Boys and Girls of Every Age

By joslyngray |

Recently, my good friend Julie Miner, of the blog Rants From Mommyland, asked on her Facebook page for recommendations for books to help her have “the talk” with her daughter. Hundreds of suggestions poured in from parents from all over the country.

Julie and I compiled the recommendations–some of the titles came up again and again.

We’ve sorted the books into categories — books that are written for both boys and girls, books written specifically for girls, and books intended for boys. We’ve also included some books that are written just for parents to help you cope with all the awkward stammering. For your convenience, we’ve also included links for each book to Amazon.

We also included the publishers’ recommended ages for each book. While all these books were recommended as highly on Amazon as by Julie’s readers, each book did have a few negative reviews. Every single book had the same two complaints:

  • “This book is way too advanced/inappropriate for this age.”
  • “This book is way too juvenile/babyish for this age.”

Some parents clearly weren’t aware of the age recommendations to begin with, but many just weren’t comfortable with the amount of information provided. It seems like it should go without saying, but what’s appropriate is going to vary with each kid. As a parent, you have to decide what’s going to help you answer your kid’s questions, what your child is ready for, and what you’re comfortable explaining.

It’s important to read through, or at least skim, these books before buying, or at least before handing it to your kid, so that you know it’s a book you’re comfortable with. Some parents were horrified by a book’s illustrations, referring to anatomically accurate, cartoon-style drawings as “soft core porn” in a review. Other negative reviews had to do with religious objections or just not being comfortable with teaching kids about masturbation, for example. One was horrified to find that a book went so far as to explain that “the male part goes into the female part,” which to me seems like a critical point in explaining reproduction.

Some of Julie’s readers also offered tips, as well, which we thought were pretty insightful.

  • Talk while you’re driving. Many kids are more comfortable asking questions and chatting when they don’t have to make eye contact.
  • Use the correct terminology.
  • Ask your child what she already knows.
  • Let your child steer the conversation. Unless your child is like, 12, and hasn’t asked anything.

A few websites were also recommended as well:

  • for Parents Explains birth control so that you can explain it, and answers questions like “How can I reassure my daughter that she’ll get her period?” and “Is it normal for an 11-year-old boy to fondle himself?” (Answer: yes.)
  • for Kids and for Teens, both by the Nemours Foundation, offer age-appropriate answers to all kinds of questions.
  •, by sex educator Amy Lang, MA, helps parents talk to kids about uncomfortable things.
  •, a website for parents and girls age 8 to 15. The site is intended to be used by parents and daughters together.

Take a look at these top parent-recommended books below.  Did we miss any of your favorites?

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Parents Recommend Best Books for Having 'The Talk'

For Boys and Girls (ages 4 to 8)

What’s the Big Secret? Talking About Sex With Girls and Boys is written by Laurie Krasny Brown and illustrated by Marc Brown (yes, the one from the Arthur books). It covers all the basics plus addresses the concept of "good touches" versus bad, uncomfortable touches. Although some reviewers felt it's too advanced for preschoolers, it's recommended for ages 4 to 8. Again, it depends on what your child is ready for, and what you're ready for.

Available on Amazon, $6.99.

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto)

Recent posts from Joslyn:
Are You Teaching Your Children to Lie? I Am.
Petition for Paul Corby Hits a Major Milestone; Autistics and Advocates Speak Out on Transplant Controversy
NFL, CDC Tackle Concussions On and Off the Field: 10 Things Parents Must Know
Seriously? 15 Things That Have Been Banned in Schools So Far in 2012

Read more from Joslyn at Babble Pets and at her blog, stark. raving. mad. mommy.
You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter.


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About joslyngray



Joslyn Gray is the mother of four children with a variety of challenges ranging from allergies to ADHD to Asperger Syndrome. She writes candidly and comedically about this and her generally hectic life on her light-hearted personal blog, stark. raving. mad. mommy.. Read bio and latest posts → Read joslyngray's latest posts →

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