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OUTSPOKEN RECOMMENDS...

For parents
| general reading
Beyond Birds & Bees: Bringing Home a New Message to Our Kids About Sex, Love and Equality – by Bonnie J Rough (Seal, 2018)
An excellent experiential explanation of the Dutch approach to sex education and normalising sex that intermixes family anecdote, societal/cultural observation and personal interrogation about being honest with ourselves & open with our children

The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults – by Dr Frances E Jensen with Amy Ellis Nutt (HarperCollins, 2015)

A readable blend of insight into how stress, sleep, risk taking, decision making, gender, drugs, alcohol, ”the digital invasion” etc propel teens’ impulsiveness and moods plus first-hand experiences from the neuroscientist mother of two sons

Inventing Ourselves: The Secret Life of the Teenage Brain – by Professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore (Doubleday, 2018)

Viewing teenagers as being in the midst of great creativity rather than just self-absorbed moods, this is a neuroscience look at how teenagers are establishing new thinking patterns, a sense of self and their identity

Brainstorm: The Power And Purpose of the Teenage Brain – by Daniel J Siegel, MD (Scribe, 2014)

Billed as “an inside-out guide to the emerging adolescent brain, ages 12-24”, Brainstorm helps parents to understand teenage impulses, creativity and novelty-seeking, the workings of their own brain and how teens and adults can connect

Teenagers Translated: A Parent’s Survival Guide – by Janey Downshire and Naella Grew (Penguin, 2018)

Two counsellors translate their own parenting and teaching experiences into very readable explanations of the links between the roller-coaster emotions, physiology and challenging behaviour of adolescent development, with clear, helpful advice

For parents
| focus on... girls

Your Daughter’s Bedroom: Insights for Raising Confident Women – by Joyce McFadden (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011)

Incredible insight into how women can approach relaxing into talking openly about bodies, sex etc while also looking at the mother/daughter issues with their own mothers that they bring to their relationships with their girls

From Daughter to Woman: Parenting Girls Safely Through Their Teens – by Kim McCabe (Robinson, 2018)

Encouraging an intuitive, understanding and empathic parenting style that engages mothers with self-reflection and gives practical guidance

Girls & Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape – by Peggy Orenstein (Oneworld, 2016)

Brilliant insight and research – from the author of Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture – into how girls are confronting the sexual pressures they are up against in this digital world

Where Has My Little Girl Gone? – by Tanith Carey (Lion, 2011)

A clear look at consumerism, sexualisation of children, clothes and make-up, body language, pornification of music videos, pressures of social media around thinness and perfectionism, self-esteem, power of openness. With tips for mothers/fathers

 

21st Century Girls: How the Modern World is Damaging Our Daughters and What We Can Do About It – by Sue Palmer (Orion, 2014)

Originally subtitled "How female minds develop; how to raise bright, balanced girls; and why today's world needs them more than ever", this book from an educational expert and the author of Toxic Childhood is clear and informative

For parents
| focus on... boys

Man Up: Boys, Men and Breaking the Male Rules – by Rebecca Asher (Harvill Secker, 2016)

How to change how we limit boys' attitudes and behaviour through expectations and ideals of male anger, feelings, power, value etc. Fascinating and well written

Raising Boys in the 21st Century (new & updated) – by Steve Biddulph (Harper Thorsons, 2018)

A renowned expert in child development, Biddulph talks about sexuality, sports, mothers and sons, boys' vs girls' brains etc – a recently revised classic

Be A Man: How Macho Culture Damages Us And How To Escape It – by Chris Hemmings (Biteback, 2017)

A personal, readable look at how the constraints of traditional masculinity and lad culture affect men and women – by a journalist, broadcaster and "former lad"

21st Century Boys: How Modern life is driving them off the rails and how we can get them back on track – by Sue Palmer (Orion, 2010)

Well-researched insights into development, competitiveness, risk taking, social skills, pressures from peers and media, male role models (good and bad) etc

Teens: What We’re Really Thinking (When We’re Not Saying Anything) – by Paul Bühre, 15 (Scribe, 2016)

A 15-year-old boy from Germany gives his point of view on video games, porn, conflicts with parents, mood swings, girl/boy dynamics etc

For children
younger children
Let’s Talk About Sex: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex & Sexual Health – by Robie H Harris and Michael Emberley (Walker, 2010)
A 1990s classic, with fun illustrations (and sarcastic cartoon characters who mirror and offset possible reader awkwardness) – updated for the internet era 
How A Baby Is Made – by Per Holm Knudsen (Piccolo, 1975)
An engaging, straightforward book with basic, iconic drawings illustrating love, sex and birth – beloved in Scandinavia, and with good reason
Where Willy Went – by Nicholas Allan (Red Fox, 2006)
Picture book depicting Willy the sperm competing to reach the egg
Made by Raffi – by Craig Pomranz (Frances Lincoln, 2014)
If you happen to have a little Raffi at home – a boy who finds rough and tumble overwhelming – this gentle and charming story could work wonders. But it’s also perfect for teaching difference and acceptance to the most regular of Joes. Our little tester loved the detail and said: “I wish Raffi would make me a cape!”
Strong Is the New Pretty – by Kate Parker (Workman, 2017)
Stunning photographs of athletic girls – their pride and confidence are inspiring
Tough Guys Have Feelings Too – by Keith Negley (Flying Eye, 2015)
Picture book of superheroes, knights, wrestlers and dads showing their feelings 
Hello, Sailor – by Ingrid Godon (Macmillan, 2003)
On his lighthouse Matt waits for the return of Sailor. A subtly implied love story

For children
pre-teens and young teens

The Girl Guide: 50 Ways to Learn to Love Your Changing Body

 – by Marawa Ibrahim (Harper, 2017)

Sharp, catchy, direct, and full of photos and fun graphics. Marawa tells her own stories and gives big-sisterly advice on high heels, braces, hair everywhere, periods, parents, exercise, self-consciousness, self-esteem etc

 

Below Your Belt: How To Be Queen of Your Pelvic Region – by Missy Lavener and Jeni Donatelli Ihm (Women’s Health Foundation, 2015) 

A light-hearted, cartoon-illustrated guide to periods, pelvic floor exercises, UTIs (urinary tract infections), digestion, vulvas and vaginas etc

My Little Red Book – by Rachel Kauder-Nalebuff (Twelve, 2009)

Demystifying, honest stories from women of all ages – and from all around the world – recalling when, where and how they got their first period

Period. – by Natalie Byre (Break The Habit, 2018)
Amusing and informative illustrations covering periods, moods, cycles, slang, hormones, mental health and differences in bodies simply and with style

Dr Christian’s Guide to Growing Up Online: Staying Safe in a Digital World – by Dr Christian Jessen (Scholastic, 2018)

In a handbook of bright, multi-font Q&As, the eminent Embarrassing Bodies star tackles social media, cyberbullying, selfies, group chats, Instagram, digital footprints, binge watching TV, parental controls & more

Being A Boy – by James Dawson (Hot Key, 2013)

Chapter titles include: The new Alpha Male; Looking good; Pubes and sex stuff; Always wear a condom; The school dictionary. Interestingly, the author has since come out and is now Juno Dawson, an activist

Blame My Brain: The Amazing Teenage Brain Revealed – by Nicola Morgan (Walker, 2013) 

Neuroscience for young people with explanations, tests, advice

For children
older teenagers

Open: A Toolkit for How Magic and Messed Up Life Can Be – by Gemma Cairney (Macmillan, 2017)

Affirmative, honest, exuberant – information and anecdotes on love, life, families, friendship etc from the dynamic BBC broadcaster and gender-equality advocate

Doing It: Let’s Talk About Sex – by Hannah Witton (Wren & Rook, 2017) 

The vivacious, no-holds-barred YouTuber expertly delves into top sex-ed topics like consent, pleasure, body image, sexting, virginity, contraception and LGBTQ+ issues…

Respect: Everything a Guy Needs to Know About Sex, Love and Consent – by Inti Chavez Perez (Little Brown, 2019)

Luckily this book got lots of coverage when it came out. Written by a sex educator, it’s a clearly explained post-MeToo approach to consent with solid, practical, honest advice and anecdotes about first times, how female and male bodies work, getting physical, sexuality, rejection, sexting, pressures and expectations

Girl Up: Kick Ass, Claim Your Woman Card and Crush Everyday Sexism – by Laura Bates (Touchstone, 2017)

From the founder of Everyday Sexism, an empowering manual to get teenagers questioning societal attitudes and behaviour around sex, bodies, gender, body shaming, revenge porn, dealing with sexting, sex ed etc

Sex & Lovers: A Practical Guide – by Ann-Marlene Henning (Cameron & Hollis, 2014)

Seemingly revolutionary for its explicit photos of real-life couples making love, this is a refreshingly upfront storehouse of information about bodies, pleasure and open communication in healthy intimate relationships from a Danish sex therapist 

How to Have Feminist Sex: A Fairly Graphic Guide – by Flo Perry (Penguin, 2019)

What’s the best thing about this graphic-novel guidebook to sex, pleasure & asserting yourself? The diverse bodies, the genuine warmth and spiritedness of writer/illustrator Flo (daughter of psychotherapist Philippa and artist Grayson Perry), the great advice, the angle of learning about sex & sexiness from culture? It’s all fab!

Drawn to Sex: The Basics – by Erika Moen & Matthew Nolan (Limerence Press, 2018)

This creative duo tackles subjects like ”Doin’ It Safely”, “Doin’ It With Yourself” and “Doin’ It With Other People” – it’s very graphic, so not everyone’s cup of tea, but it comes highly praised and it’s clearly open hearted along with open minded. A how-to manual in comic-book form

Fruit of Knowledge: The Vulva Vs The Patriarchy – by Liv Strömquist (Virago, 2018)

Informal, informative graphic-novel format looking at historical attitudes to periods and women's anatomy from a fun, frank, sociological perspective 

Vagina-Nomics (Biannual journal, print or digital. Issue #1: 2018)

The first feminist magazine destigmatising female pleasure through art and design – with interviews, photos, poems and great graphics covering periods, pain, porn, celebratory jewellery and even a quiz on erotic intelligence and sexual introspection

It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living – by Dan Savage (Penguin, 2012)

Reassurance from LGBT people – and straight celebs/politicians – to young LGBT readers about coming out. An offshoot of It Gets Better, which features 60,000 short videos. It Gets Better UK launched in October 2018. School libraries should stock this book to expand the horizons of heteronormative kids & validate LGBT lives

Check back for more titles…

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