Book Recommendations

Here you can find Colorado Youth Matter's recommended books for parents and young people of all ages. If you're interested in purchasing any of the books below, consider buying them through Colorado Youth Matter's Amazon Smile account, and a portion of your purchase will go to supporting our work.

reading

For parents

How'd I get There in the First Place? 
By Deborah Roffman
For parents of young children

For parents of three to six year olds, a wise and charming guide to talking about sex, conception, and birth. Young children ask questions about sex, sexuality, conception, and birth that can be embarrassing or uncomfortable for parents. With her characteristic good sense of humor and cool head, author Deborah Roffman will put even the most awkward parents at ease, giving them the skills to talk confidently with young children about these important but delicate issues.
Everything you NEVER Wanted Your Kids to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid They'd Ask)
By Justin Richardson and Mark Schuster
For parents with children of all ages

For parents whose tots are playing doctor in the garage and whose teens are pleading for coed sleepovers, here is some help. With wry humor as well as comments from folks who have been there, Richardson and Schuster combine experience in pediatrics and psychiatry to lend a frank helping hand (the emphasis is developmental and practical) by exploring not only the science and the time line of children's sexual development but also what is at stake when sex is up for discussion -- whether the topic is abstinence, pleasure, feelings, responsibility, orientation, or STDs.
Sex & Sensibility: The Thinking Parent's Guide to Talking About Sex
By Deborah Roffman
For parents with children of all ages

With a rare directness and clarity about sex and reproduction, sexual values, and cultural influences on sexuality, Deborah Roffman challenges and teaches readers how to develop a blueprint for opening the lines of communication with children of all ages. Sex and Sensibility introduces the five core parenting skills that parents need to confidently interpret and comfortably respond to virtually any question a child might pose or any situation that arises. Powerfully instructive and thought provoking, it should be required reading for parents; it will inspire honest talk about sex and sexuality, helping all of us be better parents for the effort. 
From Diapers to Dating: A Parent's Guide to Talking Sense about Sex
By Debra Haffner
For parents with children of all ages

This thoughtful guide for parents offers a wealth of practical techniques to identify and communicate their own values about sexuality to their children. Whether discussing how to help kids with the onslaught of sexual messages they see in the media or providing sensible guidance on teaching about the body, Debra Haffner's values-oriented approach is informative and comforting. 
Beyond the Big Talk: Every Parent's Guide Raising Sexually Healthy Teens from Middle School to High School and Beyond
By Debra Haffner
For parents of middle and high schoolers and beyond


Beyond the Big Talk guides parents through the difficult adolescent years, when they are likely to confront such issues as peer pressure, dating and parties, alcohol and drugs, harassment, abstinence, and much more. Organized by age group - middle school (grades seven and eight), early high school (grades nine and ten), late high school (grades 11 and 12), and beyond (ages 18 and up), each section provides value exercises to help you identify and communicate your beliefs to your teens, special issues to advise you on discussing difficult topics, and teaching moments to help you recognize opportunities or entry points into a discussion of important issues.
How to Talk with Teens About Love, Relationships, and S-E-X: A Guide for Parents
By Charles D. Miron and Amy G. Miron
For parents of teens

Many parents find it difficult, even impossible, to talk with their kids about love, relationships, and especially sex. But the real choice parents face is not if their kids will learn about these topics, but how they will learn and who will do the teaching. This candid guide covers everything you might ever want to discuss with your teen about intimacy and sex. In more than two decades of working with parents and teens, authors Amy and Charles Miron have heard and discussed it all - from the things your kids probably have heard about to the things you probably haven't.


For children, ages 3-8

It's Not the Stork: A Book About Girls, Boys, Bodies, Families, and Friends
By Robie Harris, Illustrated by Michael Emberley
For children 4-8 years

It's Not the Stork! helps answer perfectly normal questions that preschool, kindergarten and early elementary school children ask about how they began. Through lively, comfortable language and sensitive, engaging artwork, Robie H. Harris and Michael Emberley address readers in a reassuring way, mindful of a child's healthy desire for straightforward information. Vetted and approved by science, health, and child development experts, the information is up-to-date, age-appropriate, and scientifically accurate, and always aimed at helping kids feel proud, knowledgeable, and comfortable about their own bodies, about how they were born, and about the family they are a part of. 
And Tango Makes Three
By Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, Illustrated by Henry Cole
For children ages 3-7

This is the endearing story of two penguins from Central Park Zoo, Roy and Silo, who wanted a family. With the help of the zookeeper, these two male penguins welcomed a baby penguin of their own. And Tango Makes Three opens up the conversation on sexual orientation and inclusivity for young children.
What's in There? All About Before You Were Born And
By Robie Harris, Illustrated by Nadine Bernard Westcott
For children ages 2-5

Gus and Nellie have some exciting news: there's going to be a baby in their family! Join them through the seasons as they watch their mother's pregnancy with fascination and curiosity while awaiting the birth of their new baby sibling. Combining accessible, humorous, and accurate illustrations; conversations between the two siblings; and a factual text, here is the ideal book to help young children understand that both the way a growing baby develops inside a woman's body and how a baby is born are perfectly normal and totally wonderful.
Who's in My Family? All About Our Families
By Robie Harris, Illustrated by Nadine Bernard Westcott
For children ages 3-7

Join Nellie and Gus and their family -- plus all manner of other families -- for a day at the zoo, where they see animal families galore! To top off their day, Nellie and Gus invite friends and relatives for a fun dinner at home. Accessible, humorous, and full of charming illustrations depicting families of many configurations, this engaging story interweaves conversations between siblings and a matter-of-fact text, making it clear to every child that whoever makes up your family, it is perfectly normal -- and totally wonderful.
What Makes a Baby

By Cory Silverberg, Illustrated by Fiona Smyth
For children ages 3-8

Geared to readers from preschoolers to age eight, What Makes a Baby is a book for every kind of family and every kind of kid. It's a twenty-first century children's picture book about conception, gestation, and birth which reflects the reality of our modern time by being inclusive of all kinds of kids, adults, and families, regardless of how many people were involved, their orientation, gender and other identity, or family composition. Just as important, the story doesn't gender people or body parts, so most parents and families will find that it leaves room for them to educate their child without having to erase their own experience.

Who Has What? All About Girls' Bodies and Boys' Bodies

By Robie Harris, Illustrated by Nadine Bernard Westcott
For children ages 3-7

Young children are curious about almost everything. Asking questions is one of many ways they learn about themselves and the world around them. Now, this unique series for our youngest children provides easy-to-understand facts and answers to their delightful, thoughtful, and often nonstop questions. Launching the series is What Has What?, a simple story following Nellie and Gus on a family outing to the beach. Humorous illustrations, conversations between siblings, and a clear text all reassure young kids that whether they have a girl's body or a boy's body, their bodies are perfectly normal, healthy, and wonderful. 

The Baby Tree

By Sophie Blackall
For children ages 5-8

Cleverly revealing the basics of reproduction in an age-appropriate way, award-winning Sophie Blackall has created a beautiful picture book full of playful details to amuse and engage readers. Sooner or later, every child will ask, where do babies come from? Answering this question has never been this easy or entertaining! Join a curious little boy who asks everyone from his babysitter to the mailman, getting all sorts of funny answers along the way, before his parents gently set him straight. 

Sex is a Funny Word: A Book About Bodies, Feelings, and YOU

By Cory Silberberg, Illustrated by Fiona Smyth
For children ages 7-10

A comic book for kids that includes children and families of all makeups, orientations, and gender identities. Sex is a Funny Word is an essential resource about bodies, gender, and sexuality for children ages 7 to 10 as well as their parents and caregivers. Much more than the "Facts of life" or "the birds and the bees", Sex is a Funny Word opens up conversations between young people and their care givers in a way that allows adults to convey their values and beliefs while providing information and boundaries, safety, and joy.

It's So Amazing! A Book About Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies, and Families

By Robie Harris, Illustrated by Michael Emberley
For children ages 7-10

How does a baby begin? What makes a baby male or female? How is a baby born? Children have plenty of questions about reproduction and babies - and about sex and sexuality too. It's So Amazing! provides the answers - with fun, accurate, comic-book-style artwork and a clear, lively text that reflects elementary school children's interest in how things work, while giving them a healthy understanding of their bodies.

For preteens, ages 9-13

It's Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex and Sexual Health
By Robie Harris, Illustrated by Michael Emberley
For preteens 10 and up

Now offering a brand-new chapter focusing on safe internet use, this universally acclaimed classic by Robie H. Harris and Michael Emberley is a cutting-edge resource for kids, parents, teachers, librarians, and anyone else who cares about the well-being of tweens and teens. Providing accurate and up-to-date answers to nearly every imaginable question, from conception to puberty to birth control and AIDs, It's Perfectly Normal offers young people the information they need to make responsible decisions and stay healthy. 
The Care & Keeping of You: The Body Book for Girls
By the American Girl Library
For girls ages 8-12

This best-selling body book for girls features tips, how-tos, and facts from the experts (medical consultant: Cara Natterson, MD). You'll find answers to questions about your changing body, from hair care to healthy eating, bad breath to bras, periods to pimples, and everything in between. Now with two sequels for more specific age groups: The Care & Keeping of You: The Body Book for Younger Girls (ages 8-10) and The Care & Keeping of You 2: The Body Book for Older girls (ages 10+).
My Body, My Self for Boys
By Lynda Madaras and Area Madaras
For ages 9-15

A fact-filled and fun workbook created as the companion to "What's Happening to My Body?" Book for Boys. Packed with drawings, cartoons, games, checklists, quizzes, and innovative exercises, this helpful workbook includes special sections on the body, body image, height, weight, growing size and shape, hair, voice changes, perspiration, pimples, reproductive organs, sexuality, emotional problems of puberty, diet and health.
My Body, My Self for Girls
By Lynda Madaras and Area Madaras
For ages 9-15

This fact-filled and fun-filled journal/activity book, expanded to include more letters from kids, answers the questions girls ages 9 to 15 have about growing up. Using stories, quizzes, exercises, checklists, suggestions for diary keeping, illustrations, and lots of personal anecdotes about physical changes and the different feelings girls have about them. Everything affected by the onset of puberty is covered, from body image, diet, height, weight, pimples, and cramps, to first periods, first bras, and first impressions.
American Medical Association for Girl's (Or Boy's) Guide to Becoming a Teen
By Kate Gruenwald Pfeifer, ed. Amy B Middleman
For ages 10-13

Becoming a teen is an important milestone in everyone's life. It's even more important to get answers and advice to the most common health issues people face from a trusted source. The American Medical Association Girl's/Boy's Guide to Becoming a Teen is filled with invaluable advice to get you ready for the changes you will experience during puberty. Learn about these important topics and more:
  • Puberty and what kinds of physical and emotional changes you can expect - from your developing body to your feelings towards others
  • The importance of eating the right foods to take care of your body
  • Pimples, acne, and how to properly care for your skin
  • Your reproductive system
  • Thinking about relationships and dealing with new feelings


For teens, ages 14-19

Changing Bodies, Changing Lives: A book for Teens on Sex and Relationships
By Ruth Bell Alexander
For teens 12 and up

Changing Bodies, Changing Lives has helped hundreds of thousands of teenagers make informed decisions about their lives, from questions about sex, love, friendship, and how your body works to dealing with problems at school and home and figuring out who you are. It's packed with illustrations, checklists, and resources for the answers you really need. Best of all, it's filled with the voices, poems, and cartoons from hundreds of other teenagers who tell you what makes them feel worried, angry, confused, sexy, happy, and yes, even excited and hopeful about their lives.
The "Go Ask Alice" Book of Answers: A Guide to Good Physical, Sexual, Emotional Health
By Columbia University's Health Education Program
For teens 15-19

Was it a one-night stand or true love? What are the symptoms of chlamydia? How do I know if my drinking is out of control? While questions like these may be a parent's worst nightmare, they weigh heavily on the minds of today's teens and twentysomethings. Thankfully, "Go Ask Alice" Book of Answers has come to the rescue, providing straightforward, nonjudgmental, comprehensive answers to the toughest, most embarrassing questions teens (and adults) have about their sexual, emotional, and physical health. 
Doing it right: Making Smart, Safe, and Satisfying Choices about Sex
By Bronwen Pardes
Ages 13 and up

After years of teaching sex education in middle schools, high schools, and colleges in New York City, Bronwen Pardes has heard it all and blushes at nothing. "Doing it Right" offers down-to-earth, tell-it-like-it-is answers to the questions teens have been asking her for years. It's one of New York Public Library's "Books for the Teen Age," an American Library Association Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, and on the Voices of Youth Advocates Non-Fiction Honor List.
Sex, a Book for Teens: An Uncensored Guide to Your Body, Sex, and Safety
By Nikol Hasler
Ages 15 and up

The co-creator of the popular online Midwest Teen Sex Show brings us a hilarious honest, and in-depth look at every teen's favorite subject: sex. This isn't your mother's sex book: it's punchy and unapologetic. At the same time, it teaches teens the practical ins and outs of being sexually active and, above all, how to stay safe. With humorous illustrations by San Francisco Chronicle cartoon artist Michael Capozzola, this book features chapters on everything including: foreplay, different forms of sex (all of them!), masturbation, sexual orientation and gender identity, body issues, relationships, virginity, birth control, and protection against diseases. Modern teens are faced daily with making decisions about whether to have sex and how to protect themselves if they do, and they need an engaging and relatable resource for getting the right information. That's what this book is about. 
S.E.X: the All-You-Need-To-Know Progressive Sexuality Guide to Get You Through High School and College
By Heather Corinna
For ages 16 and up

Have you ever wondered... Am I normal? (And what is "normal" anyway?) What's up down there? I really like girls, but I like boys sometimes too. Am I gay, bisexual, or just messed up? Are we both really ready to have sex? Is it ok if I masturbate? I feel like I can't ever say no to my partner. What's the problem? Heather Corinna and Scarleteen.com have been providing sex education and information for young adults, parents, and mentors for nearly ten years. Whether you're straight, gay, sexually active, or just plain curious, S.E.X. spells out everything you need to know.

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