When I was coming of age and starting to ask my parents questions about sex and puberty, they did their best to educate me. Like many good Midwestern liberal parents, they sat me down, looked me in the eyeâ€¦and handed me a book. The “What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Boys” allowed me to learn about the changes in my body and mind, and read about masturbation, body growth, and attraction. This book was my entryway not only into my pubescent years, but also into my lifelong interest in sexuality and sex education. However, as I grew older and learned that many aspects of sexuality made people in the USA uncomfortable, I found I was interested not only in what this seminal book contained, but also what it omitted.
So, while studying abroad in Germany, I acquired a book called “Weil Wir Jungen Sind (Because we are boys)” that was also aimed at teens trying to figure out what to do with their growing bodies and feelings. After a decade spent with the American version, I was surprised by how open and detailed the German version was about some aspects of sex that my book simply glossed over. Topics covered in detail in the German book, but conspicuously absent even in the latest edition of the American book include:
- Anal Intercourse
- Coming Out
- Erogenous Zones
- Sexual Positions (with line drawings!)
I found myself thinking, “Why can’t we have such detailed sexual health information in the United States?” And I realized that any book marketed for teenagers in the US and containing these topics would be quickly attacked and accused of being pornography. One of the reasons I love to travel and explore is to notice these cultural differences, and see what I/we can learn from them. Maybe from the Germans, we Americans can learn to be a little more open when talking about sexuality.
So, what should we do in the meantime? Here are some books that a cadre of sex educators recommended you share with kids as they are reaching puberty.
- The Little Black Book for Guys – By St. Stephen’s Community House
- The Little Black Book for Girlz â€“ By St. Stephen’s Community House
- S.E.X.: The All-You-Need-To-Know Progressive Sexuality Guide to Get You Through High School and College â€“ By Heather Corinna
- Changing Bodies, Changing Lives â€“ Ruth Bell
- The Underground Guide to Teenage Sexuality â€“ Michael J. Basso
- Sex: A Book for Teens â€“ By Nikol Hasler (I’ll be covering this book and the Midwest Teen Sex Show in more detail later)
Oh, and here’s my book, only for girls: What’s Happening to My Body? Book for Girls – by Lynda Madaras
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Photo thanks to Snowflake2235 on Flickr Creative Commons