General Health and Body Issues

Kuhn, Cynthia, Scott Swartzwelder, and Wilkie Wilson. Just Say Know: Talking with Kids About Drugs and Alcohol (New York: W.W. Norton, 2002). A scientific yet very accessible guide to talking with kids about drugs. It avoids taking a tone of moral panic and focuses instead on giving kids accurate information about the effects of drugs so that kids will listen rather than tune out. The authors provide a good general overview of how brains work and how drugs affect them, as well as a brief overview of the legal issues involved. The last several chapters cover specific types of drugs including their effects, statistics about use rates, and what the main talking points are about each type for your conversation with your kids. The authors include caffeine, over-the-counter and prescription medicines, in addition to alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drugs. The chapter about marijuana is especially good because it provides compelling reasons for avoiding it, without resorting to exaggerations. The book is a short yet comprehensive reference that is well focused on providing the necessary information for your conversations with your kids while avoiding getting bogged down in more technical detail than is necessary.

Mayle, Peter. Where Did I Come From? (Fort Lee, NJ: Lyle Stuart, 2000). A factual, kid-accessible account of where babies come from. Animated anatomical illustrations help explain the process. Ages 4-8.

Schaefer, Valorie Lee. The Care and Keeping of You: The Body Book for Girls (Middleton, WI: American Girl, 1998). An unbeatable, readable, approachable, and accurate resource for girls age 10+.

Harris, Robie, and Michael Emberley. It's So Amazing! A Book About Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies, and Families (Cambridge, MA: Candlewick, 2004, ages 7-12) and It's Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health (Cambridge, MA: Candlewick, 2004, ages 9-12). The titles say it all. Naturalistic, wonder-filled approaches to the topics surrounding reproduction, puberty, and sex.

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