It's Perfectly Normal

Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex and Sexual Health 3rd ed.

Updated for the 21st Century by Robie H. Harris and Michael Emberley

(Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA, 2009)

This large format, illustrated book has sold nearly one million copies and has been praised by such mainstream media as School Library Journal, Parenting magazine, U.S.A. Today, and others. It's the best book on sex education for children that I know of, and it would be great if every child could have the opportunity to read it.

Recommended for kids age 10 and up, the book begins by defining important words and explaining that different parts of the body have different jobs to do, so the discussion develops logically. The very language of sex is analyzed in some detail. The authors use the word "normal" in the sense of healthy or acceptable, rather than "statistically normal." The images help clarify the discussion, so the book is like an encyclopedia.

The book explains that sexual desire is different from wanting to cuddle with your mom and dad, it explains what a "crush" feels like, and clearly states that making love is so-called because it's a way of expressing love, like kissing, touching, etc. But "Most often, they [people] have sexual intercourse because it feels good." (p. 14)

The book also talks about masturbation and orgasm, in the most balanced way possible. It mentions that some religions consider masturbating a sin, and that it isn't true that masturbating is harmful to your health. While not describing specific techniques, the authors do state: "Girls and boys often start to masturbate at puberty, but many start before...Whether you masturbate or not is your choice. Masturbating is perfectly normal." (p. 48-49)

In my opinion, this is fundamental information for a child growing up. Keeping a child ignorant about sexual desire and sexual pleasure is the most primitive form of mis-education. A biologist friend once told me how traumatic her first menstruation was. Nobody had prepared her in any way. So I naturally asked: Have your prepared your daughter (then 11)? Unbelievably, she answered No! The potential list of other tragedies due to ignorance is endless. This book is a way to prevent such mistakes from repeating themselves generation after generation. Buy it, read it, and let everybody you know borrow it.