Sex education is an important part of the process of growing up, yet it is often overlooked and relegated to whispers among peers. When I was a teen, anything with the word sex in it was a source of discomfort and there was no formal sex education as we know it now.
However, even now that sex education is integrated in school curricula, it is still not effective in the sense of getting students engaged in exploring and learning about their sexuality.
In fact, in a report published in the Guardian, an increasing number of students from various schools in 10 countries “find lessons about sex education and relationships negative, moralistic and too scientific to help them deal with the feelings and situations they are encountering”.
Why? Because sex education, according to the report, is so “out of touch’ with students’ lived experiences that it turns them away from the lessons. Instead, what we need is what UNESCO called comprehensive sex education (CSE), one that speaks to the immediate learning needs of students and promotes health and well-being.
The goal of CSE is to empower students and teens with the necessary knowledge to help them navigate the tricky world of teenagehood in a safe and confident way all while teaching them values such as the respect of human rights and gender equality.
Formal curricular materials, however, should not be the only sources for learning and promoting sex education. There are tons of evidence-based and informative sex ed books out there that teachers and parents can use to supplement traditional sex education. In this post, I share with you some very good sex education books to use in this regard.
These are guides that cover various sex education topics using an inclusive, research-based, and experiential approach. From puberty to contraception, gender identity and dating to sexual orientation and consent, these sex education books for youth provide comprehensive information and guidance in an engaging way.
The books offered here are tailored for different age groups and will help teens become more informed about their sexuality and relationships. They also encourage critical thinking skills, communication, self-esteem building, decision-making, among others.
I invite you to check out the list of the best sex education books for youth and to check out the sources cited at the bottom of this post for more resources.
Table of Contents
1. Sex Education for Teens, by Kathy Wynne
Sex Education for Teens by Kathy Wynne helps teens navigate the tricky terrain of teenage romance and relationships by providing practical advice on topics that they may be too embarrassed to ask their parents.
The book covers a wide range of topics such as dealing with the ups and downs of teenage romance, recognizing the signs of an unhealthy relationship, being aware of the hidden dangers of dating and sex, knowing when you’re ready to have sex, common misconceptions about sex that could put teens at risk and more.
2. S.E.X., : The All-You-Need-To-Know Sexuality Guide to Get You Through Your Teens and Twenties, by Heather Corinna
S.E.X : The All-You-Need-To-Know Sexuality Guide by Heather Corinna is another good sex education book for young adults in their late teens and early twenties. It provides comprehensive and up-to-date information on topics such as self-image, sexual and emotional health, gender and sexual identity, contraception and STIs, healthy relationships, consent, abuse and assault prevention, and more.
3. Doing It, by Hannah Witton
Doing It, by Hannah Witton is an honest and humorous exploration of sex and relationships for teens. In her book, Hannah provides invaluable advice on topics such as safe sex, sexual pleasure, contraception, and healthy relationships. She also addresses issues like porn consumption, sex shaming, and consent in an approachable and empowering manner.
4. It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, Gender, and Sexual Health, by Robie H. Harris
It’s Perfectly Normal is a comprehensive resource on sexuality for young people ages 10-14. This updated edition features gender-neutral language, an expansion of LGBTQIA topics, coverage of recent advances in sexual safety and contraception, a new section on abortion, an honest overview of sexual abuse and consent, information about HIV/AIDS and social media safety, and more. It’s Perfectly Normal helps young readers understand their changing bodies, relationships, and identities while providing the knowledge they need to make healthy decisions.
5. Consent: The New Rules of Sex Education: Every Teen’s Guide to Healthy Sexual Relationships, by Jennifer Lang MD
In her book, Consent: The New Rules of Sex Education, Jennifer Lang MD provides a comprehensive guide to healthy sexual relationships and explains the importance of consent in sex education. Dr. Lang covers topics such as anatomy, communication, safety, and more.
She discusses different types of relationships and dating and provides tools for understanding consent. She also explains the capacity to give consent, what constitutes abuse and assault, and how to recognize when a person does not have the capacity to give consent. Dr. Lang’s approach to sex education is evidence-based, informative, and inclusive.
6. The “What’s Happening to My Body” Book for Girls, by Lynda Madaras, Area Madaras
The “What’s Happening to My Body?” Book for Girls, written by Lynda Madaras and Area Madaras, is an age appropriate guide that covers the physical and emotional changes related to puberty and adolescence. It covers topics such as the body’s changing size and shape, the growth spurt, reproductive organs, menstrual cycle, romantic and sexual feelings, puberty in the opposite sex and more.
7. The Girls’ Guide to Sex Education: Over 100 Honest Answers to Urgent Questions about Puberty, Relationships, and Growing Up, by Michelle Hope M.A.
The Girls’ Guide to Sex Education is a comprehensive guide for young girls to help them gain an understanding of their changing bodies, sexuality, relationships, and the importance of making informed decisions.
The book provides honest answers and straightforward guidance in a Q&A format. It also includes a foreword for parents to learn how to approach sex education with their children and discuss these topics comfortably.
With information covering everything from puberty and relationships to abstinence, safe sex, and self-confidence, The Girls’ Guide to Sex Education is an invaluable resource for young girls as they navigate their way into adulthood.
8. Sex, Puberty, and All That Stuff: A Guide to Growing Up, by Jacqui Bailey
Sex, Puberty, and All That Stuff by Jacqui Bailey is a comprehensive guide for teens about sex and puberty. The book speaks to teens using their own language and gives them information on social media safety and maintaining a positive body image.
It also provides support for those dealing with feelings of sexual orientation, gender identity, and more. Sex, Puberty, and All That Stuff is an important guide for teens looking for up-to-date information on sex and puberty in a safe and supportive environment.
9. You Know, Sex: Bodies, Gender, Puberty, and Other Things, by Cory Silverberg, Fiona Smyth
You Know, Sex, Written by Cory Silverberg and Fiona Smyth, is a sex education book that covers a wide range of topics including body autonomy, disclosure, stigma, harassment, pornography, trauma, masturbation, consent, boundaries and safety. The book provides an inclusive viewpoint that considers the needs of trans non-binary, intersex bodies and their experiences as well as being racially and ethnically diverse.
10. Sex Is a Funny Word: A Book about Bodies, Feelings, and YOU, by Cory Silverberg
Sex Is a Funny Word, by Cory Silverberg, is a resource for children ages 8 to 10 about bodies, gender and sexuality. It helps parents and caregivers open up conversations with young people about boundaries, safety and joy in a way that allows adults to communicate their values and beliefs. This book reimagines “sex talk” for the twenty-first century with its inclusive comic book style, featuring children and families of all makeups, orientations, and gender identities.
11. Sex Plus: Learning, Loving, and Enjoying Your Body, by Laci Green
Sex Plus by Laci Green is a comprehensive book on sex-related topics such as anatomy, consent, LGBTQ issues, STI and pregnancy prevention, sexual empowerment, healthy relationships and more. Written by the acclaimed millennial Dr. Ruth—Laci Green—the book is filled with her frank, nonjudgmental and hilarious advice.
The book provides readers with a safe space to explore their sexuality, enabling them to discover what they like and don’t like, while helping them understand the effects of the choices they make. Sex Plus is an empowering and sex-positive read that helps create informed and confident decisions.
12. Sex Ed: An Inclusive Teenage Guide to Sex and Relationships, by School of Sexuality Education
Sex Ed, written and illustrated by the team at School of Sexuality Education, is an invaluable resource for teenagers, parents, and teachers when it comes to understanding and navigating sex and relationships.
The book covers key topics such as consent, healthy relationships, different kinds of sex, contraception, porn and sexting. The book also works to dispel some common myths surrounding sex and relationships that teenagers may have heard from peers or in the media.
13. Asking About Sex & Growing Up: A Question-and-Answer Book for Kids, by Joanna Cole
Asking About Sex & Growing Up by Joanna Cole is a revised and updated guide on healthy sexuality for preteens. The Q&A format provides an approachable, nonjudgmental way to explore questions about sex in an age appropriate and informative manner. This book is suitable for both boys and girls, and it can be read independently or used as a starting point to discuss these topics with parents and caregivers.
14. Celebrate Your Body 2, by Dr. Carrie Leff, Dr. Lisa Klein
Celebrate Your Body 2: The Ultimate Puberty Book for Preteen and Teen Girls, written by Dr. Carrie Leff and Dr. Lisa Klein, is a comprehensive guide to help young girls navigate the changes of puberty with confidence.
The book covers topics ranging from physical changes such as hair growth, bra selection and braces to emotional changes such as budding romantic feelings and peer pressure. With a body-positive approach, Celebrate Your Body 2 encourages young girls to embrace the changes of puberty and view their changing bodies as beautiful and special.
The book also provides helpful advice and strategies on how to handle awkward moments, talk about periods with family members, deal with bullies, and much more.
15. It’s Not the Stork! by Robie H. Harris
It’s Not the Stork! by Robie H. Harris seeks to answer young children’s questions about their bodies and where babies come from. By using friendly language and engaging artwork, the book addresses these issues in a reassuring manner. It is approved by experts in the fields of science, health and child development, ensuring that the content is up-to-date, age appropriate and scientifically accurate.
The cartoon characters of a curious bird and squeamish bee provide comic relief while conveying the full range of emotions and reactions experienced when learning about one’s body. This book is a great resource for parents and teachers alike who want to help young children learn about their bodies in a healthy way.
- Best Children’s Nonfiction on Sexuality & Pregnancy– Amazon
- Sex Ed Resources– UNESCO
- Sex Ed for the Real World– Scarleteen
- Sex Ed Videos– Sex Etc
- Sex Ed for Teens– Planned Parenthood