My name is Marisa. I am a fiction writer, a blogger, and a freelance journalist.
Published May 18th 2018
Does this book cross a line or is it just being honest?
On April 25 Buzzfeed published an article about a sex education book for children that was causing a lot of parents to blush.
Fiona Katauskas' book The Amazing True Story of How Babies Are Made was published in 2015 by ABC books. It is 48 pages long and is suitable for children 5 years and up and retails for between $12.99 and $16.99. It has received positive praise from critics and was shortlisted for the 2016 Children's Book Council Book of the Year Awards.
Katauskas got the idea to write the book after her son asked her where babies come from. She went to a bookshop expecting to find loads of books on the subject but instead found very little forcing her to purchase the book "Where Did I Come From?" which was published all the way back in 1973. After reading the book to her son and realizing how hopelessly out of date it was now, Katauskas got the idea to try her hand at writing a more modern sex education book for children herself.
The Amazing True Story of How Babies Are Made goes into a lot of detail and touches on a lot of subjects from the differences between boys and girls, to growing up, how sex works, to what an erection is, to how babies are made, to how twins are created, the birthing process, and even talks about breastfeeding and bottle feeding.
The book uses humour and illustrations to explain everything to children and this is the issue that some parents have with the book. In the section about Sex and Making a Baby, there is a picture of a naked man and a woman in an embrace and a diagram of what the penis looks like inside a vagina. The book also has diagrams of the male and female reproductive systems, a page where boys check out each other's penises, a little girl examining herself with a magnifying glass, and pictures of breastfeeding mothers.
Not surprisingly, some parents think the book is far too graphic for children and should not be sold in the children's section in bookstores. Other parents disagreed and thought the book was just being honest and that children need to learn these things eventually, so why not start the conversation at home?
I sat down and read The Amazing True Story of How Babies Are Made with my three-year-old and thought the book was very educational and covered a lot of material. I liked how there was a section on IVF and that it included vaginal births and caesarean births.
One criticism I have for it is that the author uses the term baby instead of foetus for an unborn child, which is incorrect because it's not a baby until it's full term. The book also doesn't touch on miscarriages.
Is this book inappropriate for children? No, I don't think so. It is factual and honest and uses humour in a skilful way to educate children about the facts of life. The book is structured in a way where the earlier chapters are suitable for younger children but as the book progresses it goes into more detail and gets a bit more complicated making it more suitable for older children.
It's the sort of book where you could bring it out to read a chapter to your kids as they enter a new stage of development and then put it away until they come back to you with another question.
If you would like more information about the book Cath Hakanson, a mother and a sexologist and health professional, reviewed the book on her YouTube channel. Her video is worth viewing and shows off the book in detail.