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If your kids are anything like I was as a tween, protesting going to the “birds and the bees” talk proclaiming that they “already know everything” when it comes to menstrual and sexual health (or if your child’s school or community center does not offer sex education), you’re going to need to call in some backup. It can be difficult to have a discussion with your teen or tween on reproductive health who might be getting a lot of sex education from social media, and sometimes having a conversation starter can be helpful.
Reproductive health books can be a great way to do that, especially if your teen is going through something that you didn’t necessarily go through at their age — for example, coming out as queer or nonbinary. There are some books we selected as resources for young teens who are about to start or just started their menstrual cycle and want to feel more comfortable in their bodies, and for older teens who are curious about sex and their sexuality. A couple of these books are written by doctors, therapists, and sexual health editors who want to reach young people and help them better understand their reproductive and sexual wellness.
Parents, teachers, and mentors, update your personal stack by having these reproductive health books ready for your teen whenever they’re ready to pick them up.
‘Love Your Body’ by Jessica Sanders
Love Your Body may be your tween’s first introduction to knowing more about, understanding, and accepting their body as it is. This is key to them stepping into puberty and eventually into their sexuality. Pick it up for tweens between ages 10 and 13.
‘Welcome to Your Period’ by Yumi Stynes and Dr. Melissa Kang
Your child’s menstrual education class may have only lasted 30 minutes, and they may have many more questions about what a period is like, even if they’ve already started theirs. That’s where tag team authors Yumi Stynes and Dr. Melissa Kang come in. They’ve written this comprehensive menstruation guide, Welcome to Your Period, and also have newer books that have come out, including Welcome to Consent, if your teen responds well to the period book.
‘Let’s Talk About Down There’ by Dr. Jennifer Lincoln
If your teen hasn’t had that first visit to the OB/GYN yet, there are a lot of things they want a medical professional’s opinion on. Dr. Jennifer Lincoln has a warm but powerful social media presence, and is the perfect doctor for the job. Her book Let’s Talk About Down There answers questions like “Can I Get Pregnant on My Period?” and more, including an introduction to understanding the intricate workings of the vulva and reproductive system.
‘The Pride Guide’ by Jo Langford
Therapist and sexual health educator Jo Langford put together one of the first LGBTQ+-inclusive puberty books. The Pride Guide: A Guide to Sexual and Social Health for LGBTQ Youth gets into queer sex education, body image and changes, coming out, and dating for queer teens (which, by the way, is about 1 in 4 teenagers, according to CDC data.) This is an important book for teachers and librarians to keep on their shelves in case students haven’t come out or don’t plan to come out to parents or family members.
‘Life Isn’t Binary’ by Meg-John Barker and Alex Iantaffi
Especially if you have a teen who is figuring out their gender identity, it’s a great idea to read nonbinary authors’ Meg-John Barker and Alex Iantaffi’s book, Life Isn’t Binary. Make it a parent/teen book club so you can both discuss what it means to live outside the gender binary. It’ll really stretch both of your brains to think about how nonbinary thinking can apply to other areas of life, too.
‘Decolonizing the Body’ by Kelsey Blackwell
Decolonizing the Body is another groundbreaking book that would be more appropriate for older teens. It acknowledges the reality that around 8 in 10 Black women go through some sort of trauma in their lives. This book by Kelsey Blackwell is designed to help young people of color to connect to the body using somatic practices.
Before you go, shop for some period essentials: