I recently won a copy of Who Has What? All About Girls’ Bodies and Boys’ Bodies by Robie H. Harris and illustrated by Nadine Bernard Westcott. (Available September 13th, 2011. Or you can pre-order Who Has What now!)
I should really say that my girls won a copy. Since it’s more for them than me.
When my kiddos got home from school yesterday I gave them the book and said “Look girls, an author sent you another book!”
“Wow, what’s this one about?”
“Well, it’s about your bodies.”
They had homework to do and snacks to eat and kittens to torment so it wasn’t until this morning that they actually got around to reading the new book.
My oldest (age 7) read it first to herself while her sister (age 5) played at something else.
I watched and listened as she read. She laughed a couple of times, but not a squirmy or uncomfortable laugh, just a genuine kid laugh.
When she got to the end she couldn’t help herself and she read the last page out loud.
“Read it to me!” Her little sister demanded. So, to the table they went, book in hand, to read it again.
This time I got to hear my oldest read the entire book and watch both their reactions.
“Nope, we don’t have tails. Just dogs do.”
“Look, there’s where the pee comes out.”
“Yeah, and it’s the same on the puppy too.”
“And there’s the vagina.”
“Even on the baby.”
“Oh, and here’s the boy page. See, there’s the penis.”
When the girls were finished, before they could start again (Yes, they read the book three times this morning.) I asked them what they thought of it.
My oldest said, “I liked it. I liked that there was a story and the comics parts for if you just wanted to read that.”
“And what did you think about the information?”
“It was good. But it wasn’t boring like just, ‘Here’s this part and that part’. It was fun.”
“Was it an embarrassing book?”
“Would you read it to a friend? Or with some friends?”
“Yeah, Mom. It’s great. And some of my friends might not know this stuff, and they probably should.”
Then I asked my youngest. She loved the book too, especially the “comics” (The illustrator and author have conversation bubbles on every page that really enhance the book as you go along, adding real kid thoughts to each page. They also have great pictures with the correct body parts pointed out – everything from noses, eyes, arms, hand, tails (on the puppy), to those couple of bits that set us apart.)
She didn’t think it was embarrassing at all either.
When I asked her what she thought about the information she just looked at me like I was crazy. “Mom, this is a fun book about boys and girls.” As if a fun book can’t also be teaching her something.
What I loved about the book was that it really emphasized how much boys and girls, men and women are ALIKE. It showed dads and moms feeding babies. Sure, one has to use a bottle, but he can still feed the baby. It showed both parents being, well, parents. It talked about how all kids, boys and girls “like to catch frogs, swing high up in the air, ride scooters, and make lots of noise.” It talked about how we all have belly buttons, fingers, toes and nipples. It talked about all the ways we are the same.
Then, it talked about the couple of ways that we are different, and what those differences mean – that some of us are male, and some of us are female. (Though, now that I think about it, the author never used those words… It was always baby, girl, woman and baby, boy, man.)
This is NOT a sex-ed book for kids. Sex is never mentioned, not even when the topic of babies and becoming moms and dads comes up at the end of the book. This book really just answers one question – Who has what? And it does that very well.
This is an excellent primer for young children just starting to ask questions about their bodies (and their friends’, parents’, and pets’ bodies.) For older children Robie Harris has a number of other books like; It’s so amazing: A Book About Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies, and Families and for the pre-pubescent or those starting puberty there’s the absolutely wonderful It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex and Sexual Health. And, for the really confused kids out there, of which there are many, It’s Not the Stork: A Book About Girls, Boys, Babies, Bodies, Families and Friends.