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Sex ed resources for parents and children

Helpful supplements for The Big Talk.

Recommended books for kids

Amazing You! Getting Smart About Your Private Parts (Puffin) by Gail Saltz, M.D., psychiatrist and Today show contributor. Ages 4 to 8.
This upbeat picture book, illustrated with sunny cartoon drawings by Lynne Avril Cravath, introduces kids to basic reproductive physiology. Saltz offers simple, accessible definitions of terms, accompanied by pictures of unclothed kids and labeled diagrams of internal organs. Subsequent drawings show three stages of body development from baby to young adult, followed by an abbreviated explanation, illustrated with a heart-shaped drawing of a smiling egg and sperm, of reproduction.—Booklist

Books by Robie Harris:
*It's Not the Stork! A Book About Girls, Boys, Babies, Bodies, Families, and Friends   (Candlewick Press). Ages 4 to 6.
Facts are presented step-by-step, starting from the similarities and differences between boys' and girls' bodies, moving to a baby's conception, growth in the womb and birth, ending with an exploration of different configurations of families as well as a section on okay versus not okay touches.—School Library Journal
*It's So Amazing! A Book About Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies, and Families (Candlewick Press). Ages 7 and up.
An inquisitive, loquacious bird and an embarrassed bee act as comic and straight man and serve as diverting foils to Harris's conversational narrative. Specific topics covered include changes in boys' and girls' bodies during puberty, intercourse, birth control, chromosomes and genes, adoption and adjusting to a newborn sibling. The roster of experts in the closing acknowledgments speaks to the sensitivity and intelligence with which Harris and illustrator Michael Emberley handle their treatment of masturbation, sexual abuse, HIV and AIDS, and homosexuality.—Publisher's Weekly
*It's Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health (Candlewick Press). Ages 10 to 14.
This thoroughly updated edition includes the latest information on such topics as birth control, hepatitis, HIV and adoption, among others. It also reflects the recent input of parents, teachers, librarians, clergy, scientists, health professionals and young readers.

What's Happening to My Body?  (Newmarket) by Lynda Madaras with Area Madaras. A pair of books for boys and girls ages 9 and up.
*For girls: Straight talk on the menstrual cycle, reproductive organs, breasts, emotional changes, puberty in boys, body hair, pimples, masturbation, and all the other fun, scary, and interesting things that go along with growing up. Filled with anecdotes, illustrations, diagrams, and honest, sensitive, nonjudgmental information for the young girl, the revised edition also addresses the new scientific facts about when a girl actually begins puberty (earlier than previously thought), advice on "female athletic syndrome," eating disorders, unwanted attention because of early development, and information on eating right, exercise, AIDS, STDs, birth control, and so much more. —Amazon
*For boys: Detailed coverage, in simple language, of the body's changing size and shape, the growth spurt, the reproductive organs, voice changes, romantic and sexual feelings, puberty in the opposite sex, questions about shaving and penis size.

Deal with It! A Whole New Approach to Your Body, Brain and Life as a gURL (Pocket) by Esther Drill, Heather McDonald and Rebecca Odes. Ages 12 and up.
Written by the creators of gURL.com, this hipster teen manual includes chapters on "Boobs," "To Do It or Not to Do It" and "Those Sucky Emotions." All topics are fair game: zit remedies; a dazzling array of hair removal techniques; masturbation methods; sexual positions and orientations; what to do if you are raped; how to deal with anger, depression and anxiety; the physical effects of different drugs; how to get along with friends and family; and more.—Amazon

Guy Book: An Owner's Manual: Maintenance, Safety, and Operating Instructions for Boys (Crown) by Mavis Jukes. Ages 12 and up.
Loaded with information about puberty, personal hygiene, dating, sex, even the prom, Jukes's book puts boys in the driver's seat. Cheeky chapter headings ("Under the Hood" and "Ignition System"), funky '50s photographs and loads of phallic car parts pump up the volume. Honest talk about the opposite sex and tips on respectful behavior plus a discussion about homosexuality and homophobia are included.—Publisher's Weekly

Other resources for kids

The True Story of How Babies Are Made  (99 per stream at SexSmartFilms.com). All ages.
This four-minute film from New York City sex-ed teacher--turned--filmmaker Mark Schoen beautifully revitalizes a before-its-time 1971 book written and illustrated by Swedish author Per Holm Knudsen. Colorful and friendly, the animated short introduces the idea of lovemaking and its pleasures in a surprisingly non-stomach-turning way, and gives the straight-on about how a baby finds his way from the mommy's belly into the Bugaboo.

gURL.com  Ages 13 and up.
An online community and content site for teenage girls. It contains stories, games and interactive features about issues that affect their lives, including frank, nonjudgmental discussions of sexuality, self-destructive behavior and body image.

goaskalice.columbia.edu  Ages 13 and up.
This pioneering Q&A health site, produced by Columbia University's Health Education Program, addresses sexuality and sexual health as well as alcohol, drugs, fitness and nutrition, emotional health and relationships. Founded in 1993, the site was originally intended for Columbia students only; it now answers queries from all high school and college students, plus parents, teachers and professionals. Answers are provided by a team of health educators and providers.

midwestteensexshow.com Ages 13 and up.
This truly awesome video site provides sex information in a clear, colloquial and highly entertaining format. Episodes cover topics like prom, condoms, vaginas and hook-ups. Teens will find it educational, and adults, hilarious!

Books for parents

Boyhoods: Rethinking Masculinities (Yale University Press) by Ken Corbett, professor of psychotherapy and psychoanalysis at New York University.
Familiar and expected gender patterns help us to understand boys but often constrict our understanding of any given boy. Writing in a wonderfully robust and engaging voice, Ken Corbett argues for a new psychology of masculinity, one that is not strictly dependent on normative expectation. As he writes in his introduction, "no two boys, no two boyhoods are the same." In Boyhoods, Corbett seeks to release boys from the grip of expectation as Mary Pipher did for girls in Reviving Ophelia.

The Purity Myth: How America's Obsession with Virginity Is Hurting Young Women (Seal Press) by Jessica Valenti, the Queens-based founding editor of the blog feministing.com.
Valenti argues that the country's intense focus on chastity is damaging to young women. Through in-depth cultural and social analysis, she reveals that powerful messaging on both extremes—ranging from abstinence-only curriculum to Girls Gone Wild infomercials—place a young woman's worth entirely on her sexuality. Morals are therefore linked purely to sexual behavior, rather than values like honesty, kindness and altruism.

Pink Brain, Blue Brain: How Small Differences Grow Into Troublesome Gaps—And What We Can Do About It (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) by Lise Eliot.
Eliot explains how modest differences at birth between the brains of boys and girls are amplified by social factors that in turn produce anatomical changes in the brain. Eliot explains, in language that is clear to all of us, that these sex differences are plastic and can be modified by experience. She indicates points of intervention where these social pressures could be minimized, interventions that would assure our achieving a fair and equitable maturation of both sexes.—Eric R. Kandel, Nobel Prize--winning neuroscientist and founder of the Center for Neurobiology and Behavior at Columbia University.

The Joy of Sex: The Timeless Guide to Lovemaking (Crown, 2009 Revised Edition) by Alex Comfort and Susan Quilliam. Just as you might keep The Joy of Cooking around for when you need to look up the basics, this classic will help you answer kids' more clinical queries—for instance, "Where exactly are my ovaries?"—and fill in the gaps in your own less-than-perfect sex education.

Websites and organizations for parents

Planned Parenthood not only runs affordable community health centers but has a well-designed website with a special section on the Big Talk. The organization also has a wonderful five-minute video on how to take advantage of teachable moments—like surprise sex scenes in movies you're watching with your kids.

Oprah Winfrey's website, in cooperation with sex educator Laura Berman, offers extensive information on talking to kids and teens about sex, including a downloadable handbook on the Big Talk, plus diagrams of male and female anatomy.

Advocates for Youth has a Parent's Sex Ed Center and a Sex Education Resource Center for educators and policy makers.

PFLAG (Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians and Gays) offers two great sites for New York City parents:
*pflagnyc.org, which provides services to local families, schools, corporations and the larger community in order to increase understanding and acceptance of LGBT people.
*pflagfamiliesofcolor.org, which offers support to LGBT people of color.

SexSmartFilms.com Founded by certified sexuality educator and filmmaker Mark Schoen, this video site provides context for a collection of historical and contemporary sexual literacy content for children and adults.

Click here to download the United Nations' International Guideless on Sexuality Education: An Evidence-Informed Approach to Effective Sex, Relationships and HIV/STI Education

NYC sexuality counselors

Amy Levine, a certified sexuality educator and the founder of sexedsolutions.com, a resource for parents and teachers. Levine regularly leads a workshop called "Talking with Your Kids About Sex" at the Brooklyn location of the sex-toys-and-solid-advice shop Babeland (visit babeland.com for schedule).

Judith Steinhart, a certified sexuality educator and cocreator of goaskalice.columbia.edu, Columbia University's popular health website, currently serves on the Surgeon General's National Advistory Committee for Sexual Health.

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