When my kids were in early elementary school, every parent I knew seemed to be looking for the perfect children’s book about sex and reproduction. I cannot overemphasize how much I wish I’d had the beautifully inclusive and thoughtful Making a Baby by Rachel Greener and Clare Owen back then.
This book (which also comes in a rainbow-striped edition cover) is completely inclusive in a no-nonsense, straightforward way. It covers anatomy, sex, non-sex ways to have a baby, adoption, surrogates…pretty much any and every way babies make adults a family.
It’s just lovely.
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Rachel seems to have thought of everything kids need to learn these concepts without bias or prejudice when it comes to sex, sexuality, gender, race, or disability. And she’s managed to communicate it all in concise, informative text I feel comfortable reading with my kids.
Although the Britishisms, like “tummy button” instead of “belly button” will give us American readers a giggle.
Some of the anti-bias concepts in Making a Baby are subtly conveyed through Clare Owen’s illustrations, which include mixed-race families, same-sex families, single-parent families, and parents with a disability. You know, just like lots of families you probably know.
The book also doesn’t leave anything to the imagination. And in my opinion, that’s a good thing.
Kids will see full frontal nudity for both men and women alongside more technical art that gives scientific explanations for anatomy and development.
To be honest, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a kids book that actually depicts a penis inserted into a vagina, but I think illustrations like this are helpful for children who are hearing about these concepts for the first time.
I’m realizing that the verbal explanation I gave my own kids, although open and frank, probably left them having to imagine quite a bit to fill in some blanks. So it’s special for a parent to find a book with illustrations that take away some of that guesswork, thereby giving kids more confidence to continue their conversations with you as they grow.
If you’re wondering what age this book is best for, here’s my stance:
Literally, any age.
If you have toddlers, expose them to concepts around the body, sexuality, and reproductive health through the pictures. Just skip anything that’s over their head.
For early elementary-aged kids, read through Making a Baby with them and answer any questions they ask. I’ve heard many parenting experts explain that we should be having “the sex talk” with our kids before they turn 8 — if not sooner. Otherwise, they’ll be hearing about sex from their friends, and not all of it will be accurate. (As we know!) You’re always better off as a parent if you position yourself as the expert on the topic.
If your kids are tweens or older and you’ve already had the sex talk with them, the book is still a solid way to normalize and destigmatize discussions about sex and reproduction, while promoting ideas of inclusivity and diversity that might not have been a part of your original sex talk. And again, the illustrations do a terrific job clarifying any anatomical concepts kids may have been confused about — but not comfortable enough to ask.
Let’s just say that Rachel Greener and Clare Owen have done a lot of parents a service through Making a Baby. It’s a far better option than sending kids off to Google random stuff, and a fantastic addition to every parent’s library right from the start.