Best children's books about puberty and sex
Clear, accurate information that's age-appropriate is essential when you decide to use a book to help you discuss puberty and sex with your children. We've picked some of the best books to help you make potentially awkward conversations easier, whatever your child's age. You know your child best, so always check you're happy with the level of detail and information in a book before you share it with them.
Mummy Laid An Egg! by Babette Cole(£7.99, Red Fox Picture Books)
Best for ages 3-7
Informative but also extremely funny, this is a classic first sex education book which helps communicate the facts with an amusing, light-hearted story. How you feel about the 'how Mummy and Daddy fit together' page will depend on how much detail you want to offer your child at any particular stage, but it's unlikely to phase or embarrass (or even really register with!) any kids and the irreverent style is a breath of fresh air for adults. Lots of health and hygiene issues are covered too, and the nits, worms and wind information tends to go down well with preschoolers while communicating important information. Author Babette Cole has also covered puberty in her inimitable picture book style in Hair in Funny Places (£7.99, Red Fox), also highly recommended for its matter-of-fact, amusing and child-friendly approach.
Let's Talk About the Birds and the Bees by Molly Potter(£12.99, Featherstone Education)
Best for ages 6-10
Puberty, sex, reproduction and relationships are explained using bright illustrations and clear, honest language. Author Molly Potter was a science teacher and a Sex and Relationships Education Development Manager, and answers the most common questions children ask in a calm, matter-of-fact style which will calm children's worries and counteract any adult embarrassment. The section of the book which offers tips about talking to your children about sex, gender and relationships is excellent, packed with practical advice to help you deal with any anxieties you might feel.
Girl Talk by Lizzie Cox(£9.99, QED Publishing)
Bet for ages 9-12
A great dip-in, dip-out advice and information book about all things growing up: hormones and body changes, personal hygiene, sex and contraception, relationships, body image, bullying and how to stay safe online. Written by a former teen magazine editor, packed with questions and plain answers and fully illustrated with funny images and accurate diagrams throughout, this book is a light-hearted and reassuring guide which normalises puberty and the changes it brings. The boys' version, Guy Talk (£9.99, QED Publishing), would also make informative reading for girls (and vice versa).
What's Happening to Me?: Boy by Alex Frith(£7.99, Usborne)
Best for ages 9-12
A detailed, sensitive and informative guide to puberty which tackles everything from body changes and body image to mood swings and hormones. The cartoon-style illustrations and factual diagrams explain the physical and emotional changes of growing up in a simple way, offering reassuring advice to pre-teens about their concerns about what's going on in their body. There is a version for girls, too, What's Happening to Me?: Girl (£7.99, Usborne).
Where Willy Went by Nicholas Allan(£6.99, Red Fox Picture Books)
Best for ages 3-7
The creator of Father Christmas Needs A Wee! and The Queen's Knickers presents the facts of life in a funny, warm and non-threatening way. There's no naming of body parts, just the story of Willy, a little sperm who lives inside Mr Browne. Willy is one of 300 million sperm, though, and they all want the same prize: an egg! Luckily Willy is a very good swimmer... The perfect way to answer kids' first questions without confusing them or introducing too much information too early.
It’s NOT the Stork: A Book About Girls, Boys, Babies, Bodies, Families and Friends by Robie H. Harris(£8.81, Candlewick)
Best for ages 4-8
Very popular and very detailed, It's NOT The Stork follows covers pregnancy, babies, bodies, appropriate (and inappropriate) physical contact, families and love. The people pictured in the book are of all ages, races and body shapes (hurrah!). It explains how babies grow in the womb and offers a basic description of intercourse. For older children (10+) the companion book, It’s Perfectly Normal! Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health (£9.54, Candlewick) covers conception, the physical and emotional side of puberty, sexual orientation, masturbation, online safety and making decisions about sexual activity.
Amazing You: Getting Smart About Your Private Parts by Gail Saltz(£5.13, Penguin USA)
Best for ages 3-6
If you want to give a very first answer to the "where do babies come from?" question but will be leaving the specifics for a while, this picture book is a good option. The illustrations are cartoon-like and cover the differences between girls and boys from baby to young adult, as well as how babies are made and are born, but there's no focus on the mechanics of sex. The private nature of genitals is also covered, making it a good starting point for a conversation with your child about the need to ask a trusted adult for help if anyone's behaviour makes them uncomfortable.
The Girls' Guide to Growing Up Great: Changing Bodies, Periods, Relationships, Life by Sophie Elkan, Laura Chaisty, Maddy Podichetty(£12.99, Green Tree)
Best for ages 10-14
Calm, kind, sensitive and informative: The Girls' Guide to Growing Up Great is a handbook older tweens and young teens will find reassuring and non-judgemental. As well as the facts on body basics (breasts, spots, body hair, hygiene and periods), emotions about body changes, appearance, crushes, first relationships and sexuality are all covered. Life online is also discussed, and the lovely illustrations and doodling and writing pages in the book make it very accessible. A brilliant title to offer your daughter as she heads into her teenage years.
What's down there? A book about girl bodies for curious kids by Alex Waldron(£7.99 Ruby Tuesday Books Ltd)
Best for ages 3-7
This book aims to introduce young children to important concepts about safety and hygiene. In the story we meet Stevie, a young girl who notices that her genitals are different to her male cousins' and decides to find out what words she should use to describe female and male gentalia. The illustrations are fun, creative and will appeal to children of various ages and the language is age-appropriate and informative. It's a body-positive story that emphasises consent and individuality and also has a handy section for parents, explaining different aspects of the book and advice on how to open up a dialogue with your child. The male bodies counterpart book is That's My Willy, which is equally entertaining and enlightening.