The Amazing True Story of How Babies Are Made by Fiona Katauskas, hardback picture book, published by ABC Books in 2015.
This is a cute and comprehensive aid for helping parents explain human reproduction to younger children. It covers basic anatomy, puberty changes, sexual intercourse, IVF, sperm donation, fertilisation, gestation, birth and breastfeeding.
We are very open in our family, with no topic off limits for discussion. We adjust the depth and detail of information as well as our language to suit the kids’ ages, but we never avoid their questions. I’d much rather they hear about some things from us, then get a grossly twisted version on the playground! So The Amazing True Story of How Babies Are Made really suited us. It provides all of the necessary information respectfully, with appropriate language and a little humour. I have used it with my three younger children when they were each around the age of five. We read it together and I answered any questions they had. They were all engaged and curious.
I really liked the way that gestation is explained, using a fruit analogy along illustrations of the growing baby inside its mother. The kids wanted to know if it actually felt like carrying a watermelon by eight months along. And my son did a wonderful impression of a caesarean birth, where he was the mother behind the sheet having her tummy cut open!
In the Feeding Baby section, the two pictures depict women breastfeeding. This is great, but I would have liked to see a picture of a baby being bottle-fed too. Fed is best, irrespective of whether that is from breast or bottle. (Trying not to rant here, just thinking about how I was made to feel like a failure when my baby needed formula, and I feel strongly that no one should be shamed for feeding their baby milk in whatever form they need).
The Amazing True Story of How Babies Are Made is suitable for lower primary school children and above. It is best read together!
To practice using rulers and tape measures (and reading them accurately!) we spent an hour or so measuring different parts of our bodies.
L marking out her foot to measure it.
Measuring A’s hand with the ruler.
Both L and A stood on a sheet of paper and placed a mark along the back of their heel, and at the top of their big toes. They then used a ruler to measure how long their feet are. Both of them found their left feet to be slightly longer than the right. They also used the rulers to measure the length of their hands, from the circlet of wrinkles at the wrist to the end of the middle finger. L drew around her hand carefully and then measured the length of each of her fingers.
L tracing around her hand.
L measuring around her waist.
Measuring my ankle.
L used a tape measure to measure around her waist, but the first few times she read off the inches side, and had to try again to get centimetres. They also used the tape measure to measure around our ankles, wrists, upper arms and heads. They compared all of the measurements. They were quite amazed that the left side of the body can be different to the right side. They also discovered that my head isn’t that much bigger than L’s!
Even the bunny got in on it!
This was a simple activity that needed no preparation to organise, but it gave the kids plenty of practice measuring things. Being able to measure accurately and consistently is an important skill, and we will be practicing it more in the future.
There’s a House Inside my Mummy by Giles Andreae and and illustrated by Vanessa Cabban, paperback picture book, first published by Orchard Books in 2001, this edition published in 2002.
A young boy is expecting a little brother or sister soon, and he is very excited. He describes what is happening through his experience. He watches his mummy as her tummy grows, when she is tired and sick, and the weird things the baby wants her to eat, as he waits and waits for the baby to arrive.
I first read this book to my eldest child when I was pregnant with my second child. She was only two, and this book was helpful in explaining pregnancy to her. We read it again during my third pregnancy, this time to both my girls. They enjoyed the idea of there being a house inside me where the baby was growing, just like in the story. It described what was happening in a kid-friendly way, with lovely rhyming texts and simple illustrations. It also gave us the opening to talk about pregnancy and how the baby was growing, and what would happen when the baby was ready to be born. The girls asked lots of questions, and asked to read this book repeatedly. Even though their little brother is here now, they still like to read this book sometimes.
There’s a House Inside my Mummy is a unique book about the joyous arrival of a new baby. It is nice to read with expectant big siblings, especially toddlers and preschoolers, in preparation for the baby’s arrival.
I Love You, Nose! I Love You, Toes! by Linda Davick, hardback picture book, published by Beach Lane Books in 2013.
This is a wonderful rhyming book that celebrates the body and all the parts that make it up. These children love their bodies, no matter the shape, size, colour or even if it’s bruised or scratched. And you can too!
This was a fun book that we shared, bringing our attention to different parts of the body. As we read , my preschooler pointed to each part on her own body, and made some comments, like ‘My hair is red!’ and ‘That girl’s reading a book on the potty!’ My preschooler loved the rhyming cadence and the clear illustrations. She laughed most at the picture of a girl sneezing with lots of green stuff coming out of her nose! The part about not quite being able to hug the back, got my preschooler trying to hug her back like the children in the picture, it was quite funny. I really liked that this book got my preschooler thinking about her body and just how wonderful it really is.
My Body by Bloomsbury Discovery and illustrated by Joelle Dreidemy, large format non-fiction boardbook with flaps, published by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc in 2014.
Most children love lift-the-flap books, and this one has dozens of flaps that open to reveal lots of fun facts and information about the body. A wonderfully engaging book for preschoolers and children in lower primary, My Body covers human evolution and the various body systems in a detail appropriate for this age group. The main illustrations were plentiful, detailed and clear, showing a good life-like representation of the human body. There were also lots of other illustrations on every page with more facts, and these had more of a cartoon quality about them.
The flaps were a big attraction for my preschooler, but once we started reading, she really got into the information too. She asked a lot of questions while we were reading, she came back to the book later to look through it again herself, and asked me to re-read a few sections to her. We ended up reading the whole book in one sitting as she was enjoying it so much. The information contained within this book was detailed enough that my second grader also found it useful and enlightening. I have heard my preschooler repeat several facts she learnt from My Body, especially that people shouldn’t eat snot because it contains germs!
Ten Tiny Toes by Caroline Jayne Church, boardbook, published by Cartwheel Books in 2014.
A simple and engaging book for toddlers celebrating their bodies. As I read through Ten Tiny Toes with my son (15 months old), I encouraged him to point to each part of his body and do the actions in the book. He liked looking through the book and pointing to the pictures, and especially grabbing his toes when we read ‘and ten tiny toes!’ He did laugh and giggle when we touched his tummy too. The text was large with rhyming language, and the illustrations were simple, yet nice. This story helped us to focus on learning parts of the body in a fun way that many toddlers will enjoy.
What Makes a Baby by Cory Silverberg and illustrated by Fiona Smyth, non-fiction hardback, published by Seven Stories Press in 2012.
This book is bright, colourful and simple, and suitable for young children who are first becoming curious about where babies come from. It introduces sperm and eggs, and the concept that both are required to create a baby, but it is quite vague about how this actually happens. In fact the whole book is rather vague. It is one of the most abstract non-fiction books I have ever read. However, while it doesn’t present detailed information, it does provide prompts to begin the discussion of this issue in as much detail as a parent thinks is appropriate for their particular child at the time. It also provides opportunities for kids to ask questions. This book could be used to start a discussion that many parents find difficult to conquer.
I read this with my preschooler and second grader. They both thought the illustrations were a bit odd, especially the people that were coloured with blue or green or purple skin. My preschooler said a few times that people are not that colour! They were also amused that the sperm and egg had been given faces and that they perform a special dance together to form a baby. I think this book was actually too abstract for them, and they were quite distracted by the less than life-like pictures. They asked a few questions, but it didn’t develop into a deep conversation about how babies are formed, instead, it left them with a very superficial view of how life develops. We used this book as a first stepping stone onto more detailed texts.
The Bare Naked Book by Kathy Stinson with art by Heather Collins, paperback non-fiction, first published in 1986, this edition published in 2006 by Annick Press.
This is a simple look at our bodies, and the different parts that make them up. With basic language and clear illustrations, this is a nice book for toddlers and preschoolers. It introduces each part of the body, with some illustrated examples of each, such as pushing arms, hairy nipples and stamping feet. At the end of each page, it asks the child to locate that body part on themselves, which is a great prompt for learning body parts and for body awareness.
My preschooler liked the pictures, and had fun locating all her body parts as suggested by the book. She enjoyed perusing this book on her own too, looking at the pictures, and pointing out what the different parts of the body were doing.