Sex Ed Books for Young People

Despite the omnipresence of sex and sexuality in our culture, discussions about sex are among the most difficult and dreaded for teens and parents alike. Fortunately, School Library Journal has come to the rescue with a fantastic list of books about the physical and emotional changes that middle schoolers can expect as they reach -- and endure -- puberty.

In Sex Education: Covering the Basics, librarian and blogger Paula Willey compiles a list of books for kids of all ages, from preK all the way through high school. She includes a special section for books for middle schoolers. At the end of the post, she lists several Internet resources. She also includes books just for parents.

In the post, Willey explains her criteria for choosing books, saying the titles she includes "not only address the physical and emotional changes children can expect as they mature (puberty) and answer questions about why these changes occur (reproduction), but also touch on readers’ rights and responsibilities."

The books on the list "frequently reassure readers that developmental differences are quite normal." The books are inclusive, accounting for "differences in gender, family makeup, and sexuality." Willey rejected books that make heteronormative assumptions.

Often, the best way to a difficult topic is through fiction, and this is certainly the case with teen romance and sex. Fiction books can provide an emotional context that is often lacking in nonfiction. For teens and parents looking for fiction books that portray positive and healthy romantic relationships and "first times," and books that explore teen love in a respectful way, here are a few to consider:

  • The Fault In Our Stars, by John Green
  • Graceling, by Kristin Cashore
  • Finding Audrey, by Sophie Kinsella
  • *Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
  • Love and First Sight, by Josh Sundquist
  • Goodbye, Stranger, by Rebecca Stead
  • Marcello In the Read World, by Francisco X. Stork
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
  • Stargirl, by Jerry Spinelli
  • *Lily and Dunkin, by Donna Gephart
  • Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell
  • *Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel, by Sara Farizan
Although issues of romance and love -- and teen angst! -- are universal and often transcend sexuality, books with an * will be of particular interest to LGBTQ readers.
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