I don’t remember what my first talk about the birds and the bees was like, or when I even learned how babies came to be. But I imagine if my parents would have given me this children’s book from 1975 called How a Baby is Made, I think I would most definitely remember.
Why? Because it’s incredibly detailed with hard-to-forget images. Just look at these photos that surfaced on the Internet! The illustrated book for children, written by Danish author and psychotherapist Per Holm Knudsen, is a truly descriptive play-by-play of exactly how a baby is made. And I mean exactly.
Colorful cartoon illustrations show a man and a woman fully naked, embracing, and doing the deed. Explanation? “The father and mother love each other very much and want to be very, very close. Sometimes when the father feels especially loving, his penis becomes large.” Then, the book shows dad-on-mom action.
Also shown is the baby growing inside the mom figure, and then an image from a more intimate angle of a baby with its arms sprawled out propelling itself out of mom’s vagina. Last, everyone is happy and enjoying the baby. It concludes, “The father and mother are very happy because now they are a family. Their friends and relatives are happy, too. They come to visit this brand-new little person.”
Looking through these illustrations, I must admit I was shocked at first. I had never seen a book like this for kids, and never expected one like this ever existed. Then, there was laughter among a few of us here in the office. Next, I dug into the comments on a couple articles about it, which were really thoughtful and, surprisingly, not what I expected. Perhaps it altered my perspective on it, too.
Birth is beautiful – a miracle for sure. Our bodies creating life is truly amazing. And research has shown “comprehensive” sex education is beneficial for teens. Yet, do these illustrations veer into a sort of creepy, not-so-age-appropriate territory, since it’s geared toward young children – despite maybe serving an educational purpose? I thought I’d find more comments leaning this way. I did read tweets calling the book NSFW, tweets calling the book explicit. The art-sheep.com article calls it “The Most Traumatizing Children’s Book in the World,” and there was a comment on that article saying, “WTF!”
But, on that same article, the majority of commenters wrote about just how fantastic this book is.
“There is absolutely nothing traumatizing about this book,” art-sheep.com reader Jessica Crabtree says. “Maybe if more kids saw this when they were little and were educated about sex properly then there wouldn’t be so many of them learning about sex through unhealthy material! This is real and normal and totally matter of fact …. perfect for kids. My kids love the cool concept of a baby coming out of a woman… they don’t see any weird about it…. grow up.”
Another commenter, Sarah Riddell, makes a jab at the classic fairytales commonly read to children. “Yeah, so much more traumatic than books about parents abandoning their children in forests, then witches putting them in an oven…”
Searching for more commentary on this book, on Huffington Post UK, I found even more people welcoming such an honest and open discussion about sex, noting these are the facts and it’s far from being creepy. It did make me think about the discomfort society can sometimes have surrounding such a conversation about sex.
In regards to talking to kids about it, though, I do think it all depends on how comfortable parents feel with this level of detail, and how you as a parent want to discuss reproduction – and, if you feel your child is ready for this discussion. At Metro Parent, we’ve covered this topic. You can get advice on having “the talk” and when to have it here.
I expect there will be mixed reactions on this from our readers. I believe as a parent, you have to make the decision that’s right for you and your family. Sex education is important, and I do see the point art-sheep.com commenter Jessica makes, worrying that kids will eventually learn about sex in possibly more inappropriate ways. At least if a parent decides to use a tool such as this for a sit-down discussion, there is context and a trusted person to answer questions in the manner they feel is appropriate for their child.
We want to know what you think. Would you want to own this book for your talk with your children, or do you think it takes sex education way too far?
Photo courtesy news.com.au