Most parents understand that sex and puberty are perfectly natural, normal human processes that almost all of us experience.
Most parents also know that talking to kids about them can be a little embarrassing. But there's no need for it to be.
As your child reaches puberty, they will notice themselves beginning to change, both physically and mentally, and it's essential to provide them with the knowledge and tools to navigate this change without fear or embarrassment. Enabling them to do so can actually be a very empowering act. The way we talk to kids about sex and their bodies can help shape their relationship with them as they grow older. Having open, healthy conversations about these things can actually be an exciting, eye-opening and mutually-beneficial experience.
In terms of age, it's up to you when you decide to begin educating your children on these sorts of issues. We are of the belief that it's never too early to start discussing these things in an appropriate manner. Some experts suggest talking openly about puberty, sex and our bodies with children as young as five if they show curiosity. Most agree that between eight and twelve is a good age to begin broaching these topics, so that kids are well-informed, and not getting their information from inaccurate, potentially harmful sources.
Having said this, pre-teens and teenagers often need their space and are probably more likely to ingest this information properly if they are left to process it in their own way. That's why informative books about puberty for girls and boys can be really useful tools. They allow kids to review this information in private, in their own time and then approach you of their own volition if they want to discuss anything further, removing the awkward tension of an in-depth, face-to-face chat, which may not suit every child.
The value of these sorts of texts is becoming much more generally understood, and they are now pretty widely available from any of the big high street book retailers and online. Read on to discover our guide to the most comprehensive and informative books about puberty out there, and to find out which, specifically, is best for your child.
Kidadl's Top Pick
Whilst all these sex education and puberty books come highly recommended, this is our top choice.
1. It's Not the Stork! A Book About Girls, Boys, Babies, Bodies, Families and Friends By Robie H. Harris
Young children are curious about things, whether it be their bodies or the way the world works, and it's important that they not be excluded from getting the facts just because of their age. This is a frank, sensitively-written response to the sorts of questions younger children ask of us, questions such as 'where do babies come from?' and 'why are our bodies different?'. It's a clear, comprehensive and engaging exploration of sexuality, reproduction and puberty specifically tailored to younger kids (the diagrams and illustrations are lovely); its only drawback is that it only gives a heterosexual perspective.
- Price: £10.36
- Age: 4-8
- Length: 59 pages
Best For Teens
2. S.E.X.: The All-You-Need-To-Know Sexuality Guide to Get You Through Your Teens and Twenties By Heather Corinna
An exhaustive and inclusive guide to all things sex, sexuality and puberty, this is an excellent resource for teens. It covers all the important, nitty-gritty subjects like contraception, consent and STIs, as well as broader (but equally important) themes that come into play as we get older, which are often more elusive and harder to grapple with: sexual and gender identity, self-image, the dynamics of a relationship and how they can become harmful or abusive. A non-judgemental, progressive, thorough and accessible guide that every teen can benefit from. It is American, so be prepared to see that reflected in some of the language and cultural references.
- Price: £11.99
- Age: 13+
- Length: 480 pages
Best For Under 5s
3. Mummy Laid An Egg By Babette Cole
If you're looking for something irreverent and fun to teach younger kids the ins and outs of baby-making, this is definitely it. It's a story told with all Babette Cole's trademark wit (those familiar with such classics as Doctor Dog and Princess Smartypants will know what we're talking about) and brilliant illustrations and will fit in perfectly well on any kid's bookshelf. It contains all the essential facts of the mother-father traditional contraception process with a few extra facts on health and hygiene thrown in for good measure - there's even a 'ways mummy and daddy fit together' page! A fun, illuminating book for young kids in a brilliantly digestible format.
- Price: £7.99
- Age: 3-7
- Length: 40 pages
Best For Under 12s
4. It's Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health By Robie H Harris
The follow-up to It's Not The Stork!, It’s Perfectly Normal! is one of the best and most thorough sex education books for children, covering sexual identity, contraception, masturbation and making decisions about sexual activity, as well as the various physical and emotional changes that kids are likely to encounter as a result of puberty. Inclusive of LGBTQ+ identities and different body shapes, this edition also dedicates a section to how to stay safe online; particularly prescient in today's social climate. Full of no-nonsense explanations and informative illustrations, this is an excellent resource ideal for children 10 years and older.
- Price: £9.29
- Age: 9-12
- Length: 112 pages
Best For Tween Girls
5. HelloFlo: The Guide, Period. By Naama Bloom
This puberty book for girls is sincere, open and funny, with an empowering message that runs steadily throughout: everything you are experiencing is normal. It's an aesthetically appealing book that mixes important facts and practical advice about periods and puberty with interesting explorations of historical trends and relatable, real-life testimonials. Bloom has obviously worked hard to make it inclusive (though it doesn't address trans or non-binary development), and the warm, informal tone is sure to appeal to many young girls. There's a little bit of an assumption of prior knowledge in some sections, so be prepared for your child to approach you with questions.
- Price: £9.99
- Age: 10+
- Length: 176 pages
Best For Tween Boys
6. What's Happening to Me? (Boy) By Alex Frith
A straightforward guide to male puberty that addresses everything from physical body changes to emotional changes accompanied by fun, cartoon illustrations and diagrams. The tone is light and informative; a short, simple and easy-to-read guide to growing up for pre-teen boys.
- Price: £9.99
- Age: 9-12
- Length: 48 pages
Best For Girls Under 10
7. The Care and Keeping of You: The Body Book for Younger Girls By Valorie Schaefer
This is one of the most tried and tested puberty books for girls - it's been around for over twenty years, and still tops many a bestseller list! It's been updated since then, of course, and covers all the basics: from acne to underarms, breast development to braces (though no sex ed in this one). It's an encouraging and informative book and carries a distinctly body-positive message (though unfortunately, the illustrations are not particularly inclusive in that regard). It's relatively basic but provides a great sounding board for further questions and discussion. A second book, The Care and Keeping of You 2: The Body Book for Older Girls, is a good follow up for children 10 and older that examines the emotional impact of puberty.
- Price: £9.47
- Age: 8-12
- Length: 104 pages
Best For Under 10s
8. What Makes A Baby By Cory Silverberg
A wonderfully inclusive tool for teaching little children how babies are made, this colourful picture book charts the making of a baby from conception to birth. With bold illustrations and beautiful graphics that make this a pleasure to look at as well as read, this little book by sexuality educator Cory Silverberg teaches children the process behind bringing a baby into the world in a way that comprises all kinds of families and reproductive methods. A fantastically inclusionary learning tool that promotes further discussion with kids about gender, sexuality and reproduction.
- Price: £10.99
- Age: 4-8
- Length: 36 pages
Best For Boys Under 10
9. The Boys Body Book, Fourth Edition: Everything You Need to Know for Growing Up YOU! By Kelli Dunham
If you're looking for an introductory guide for your pre-teen boy that just focuses on puberty (and skips the sex ed bit) this could be the best choice. A number one bestseller, the fourth edition has been updated to include how to deal with social media and texting, among other things; super important for a Gen Z reader. Complete with most of the important info to help boys understand their changing bodies, it's not as extensive as some of its competitors, but it's a good ice breaker that's perfect for opening up a dialogue about puberty. A girl's edition is also available.
- Price: £8.49
- Age: 8-12
- Length: 148 pages
Best Puberty Book For Boys
10. Guy Stuff: The Body Book for Boys
Whilst not a completely flawless depiction of the 'male' experience (there is the occasional reference to 'manning up'), this guide is nonetheless informative and easily-digestible. It approaches the changes that happen in the male body in a clear, logical way (it is organised according to the different areas of the body that need attention) and from an angle of self-care. Attention is given to everything from shaving to diet to sleep to mood swings to brain development, and it's presented in a fun, accessible way, with easy-to-consume tips and facts, appealing graphics and an agreeable, relaxed tone.
- Price: £9.48
- Age: 8-13
- Length: 112 pages
Kidadl Best Buys selects the top parent-recommended products across the web for families of all ages. If you liked our suggestions for the best sex education books then why not take a look at our best children's books about birds, or for something different take a look at our Harry Potter gifts.
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