The best books for youth about anatomy, modern human reproduction, and family

Why am I passionate about this?

For as long as I can remember, my parents answered any/all of my questions about the body, puberty, and sex; often giving me more information than I actually wanted! So when friends asked me questions, I was always eager to pass on my knowledge. Who knew that years later, it would land me a master’s degree in public health (MPH), jobs in sexuality health education, and a passion for writing about human reproduction and family formation? Plus, I have personal experience on the topic: I come from a three-generation family created through adoption and foster care; and overcame the trials and tribulations of infertility with the use of assisted reproduction. 


I wrote...

Roads to Family: All the Ways We Come to Be

By Rachel Ginocchio,

Book cover of Roads to Family: All the Ways We Come to Be

What is my book about?

Roads to Family: All the Ways We Come to Be is a modern answer to the question, “Where do babies come from?” Written for youth, families, educators, and classrooms, each chapter tells a different story of how a particular real-life family came to be - whether traditional, single-parent, LGBTQ+, blended, adoptive, and more. Woven into each family’s narrative is all of the fascinating science of human reproduction - how sex, insemination, IVF, donor conception, and surrogacy work to create a human being.

Using clear, accessible language and crisp, colorful illustrations, Roads to Family explains how advances in science and medicine enable us to reproduce in new ways and explores what it means to create, find and be family. 

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Smart Girl's Guide: Understanding Families: Feelings, Fighting, & Figuring It Out

Rachel Ginocchio Why did I love this book?

When I first came across a box of used American Girl books at our local bookstore, I passed right by.

I wasn’t a total snob; afterall, my daughter and her friends fiercely loved their American Girl dolls. But American Girl books about puberty, relationships, and family? I was dubious. But moments after I flipped through Friends Till the End and A Smart Girl’s Guide to Liking Herself, I was impressed.

Each book was well written, promoted universal values (e.g., honesty, respect), and had a warmth to them. The material was laid out in short chapters, with colorful headers, accessible call-out pages, and interactive activities.

Though Understanding Families is part of their Smart Girl’s Guide collection, youth of all sex/genders will get a lot out of the entire series.  

By Amy Lynch,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Smart Girl's Guide as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

A guide to communicating with family offers advice on talking to parents, tips on dealing with conflict, and quizzes and activities to learn more about oneself.


Book cover of It's So Amazing! A Book about Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies, and Families

Rachel Ginocchio Why did I love this book?

When I first sat down to fully explain human reproduction to my own child, I grabbed It’s So Amazing because it included explanations of insemination and IVF – subjects that most books in the genre don’t explain.

The book also covers many topics leading up to and after conception: anatomy, puberty, gestation, birth, genetics, and family. Its graphic-novel format enables readers to digest the information-rich content in bite-sized pieces, at their own pace. The book is funny and warm, and normalizes kids’ curiosity about the body.

There are two other books in this series: It’s Not the Stork and It’s Perfectly Normal. They are all great books to add to any family’s collection. 

By Robie H. Harris, Michael Emberley (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked It's So Amazing! A Book about Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies, and Families as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 7, 8, 9, and 10.

What is this book about?

From the trusted team of Robie H. Harris and Michael Emberley, this classic resource for younger children receives its most ambitious update yet.

How does a baby begin and how is it born? How did I begin? Why are some parts of kids’ bodies different from some parts of other kids’ bodies? Most younger kids have questions about reproduction, babies, love, sex, and gender too. Some also have concerns. For over twenty years, It’s So Amazing! has provided children age seven and up with the honest answers they’re looking for through age-appropriate, reassuring words and accurate, up-to-date, inclusive art. Throughout…


Book cover of The Amazing True Story of How Babies Are Made

Rachel Ginocchio Why did I love this book?

I’m a bit of a rebel rouser, so when The Amazing True Story of How Babies Are Made landed on bookshelves and created a big stir, I knew I had to buy it.

What sparked the controversy was a very simplistic illustration of how the erect penis fits inside the vagina. Parents were up in arms, claimed it encouraged their children to have sex, and deemed it pornographic.

It doesn’t actually do any of that - but, instead, provides a well-crafted, funnily-told explanation of human reproduction. What it really has going for it, is that it includes an explanation (albeit a brief one) of IVF, donors, and surrogates - a rare find in a picture book.

Any resource that includes these methods in the explanation of how babies are made is a winner in my book.  

By Fiona Katauskas,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Amazing True Story of How Babies Are Made as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 5, 6, 7, and 8.


Book cover of You Know, Sex: Bodies, Gender, Puberty, and Other Things

Rachel Ginocchio Why did I love this book?

I’ve heard Cory Silverberg speak at various educator workshops, and I agree with his views that home is largely where sex education should take place.

Yes, of course most parents want it to happen in school as well, but home should be a place where kids can get honest answers to their tough questions. All of Silverberg’s sexual health books (they’re all worth checking out) are written to support these conversations, and You Know, Sex is no exception.

It covers all of sexual health: anatomy, puberty, consent, gender identity, sexual orientation, etc.; plus it boldly dives into controversial topics like pleasure, masturbation, and pornography.

I’m especially stoked about this book because the chapter on reproduction covers insemination, IVF, donor conception, and surrogacy. The explanations are straightforward, with informative, colorful illustrations. 

By Cory Silverberg, Fiona Smyth (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked You Know, Sex as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

2023 ALA RAINBOW BOOK LIST

A completely new approach to learning about puberty, sex, and gender for kids 10+. Here is the much-anticipated third book in the trilogy that started with the award-winning What Makes a Baby and Sex Is a Funny Word

"Silverberg's writing is fearless . . . Here is that rare voice that can talk about the hardest things kids go through in ways that are thoughtful, lighthearted and always respectful of their intelligence."   
—Rachel Brian, The New York Times Book Review

In a bright graphic format featuring four dynamic middle schoolers, You Know, Sex grounds sex…


Book cover of The "What's Happening to My Body?" Book for Boys

Rachel Ginocchio Why did I love this book?

How could you not love a book written by a mother-daughter combo? It’s impossible.

Though the books in this series (My Body, My Self for Boys/Girls; What’s Happening to My Body for Girls/Boys) are getting a little old copyright-date-wise, they are packed with detailed information that I go back to over and over again, each time I pull together material for a puberty class.

Though they were written at a time before gender-inclusive language hit the scene, they cover the topics youth are most curious about; and provide checklists, games, inquiries, and other interactive activities for readers to work through. 

By Lynda Madaras, Area Madaras, Simon Sullivan

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The "What's Happening to My Body?" Book for Boys as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

Everything preteen and teen boys need to know about their changing bodies and feelings Written by an experienced educator and her daughter in a reassuring and down-to earth style, The "What's Happening to My Body?" Book for Boys gives sensitive straight talk on: the body's changing size and shape; diet and exercise; the growth spurt; the reproductive organs; body hair; voice changes; romantic and sexual feelings; and puberty in the opposite sex. It also includes information on steroid abuse, acne treatment, sexually transmitted diseases, AIDS, and birth control. Featuring detailed illustrations and real-life stories throughout, plus an introduction for parents…


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A Beggar's Bargain

By Jan Sikes,

Book cover of A Beggar's Bargain

Jan Sikes Author Of The Edge of Too Late

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Avid reader Lover of Music Astral Traveler Tarot Reader Grandmother

Jan's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Historical Fiction Post WW2.

A shocking proposal that changes everything.

Desperate to honor his father’s dying wish, Layken Martin vows to do whatever it takes to save the family farm.
Once the Army discharges him following World War II, Layken returns to Missouri to find his legacy in shambles and in jeopardy. A foreclosure notice from the bank doubles the threat. He appeals to the local banker for more time—a chance to rebuild, plant, and harvest crops and time to heal far away from the noise of bombs and gunfire.

But the banker firmly denies his request. Now what?

Then, the banker makes an alternative proposition—marry his unwanted daughter, Sara Beth, in exchange for a two-year extension. Out of options, money, and time, Layken agrees to the bargain.

Now, he has two years to make a living off the land while he shares his life with a stranger. If he fails at either, he’ll lose it all.

A Beggar's Bargain

By Jan Sikes,

What is this book about?

A shocking proposal that changes everything.

Desperate to honor his father's dying wish, Layken Martin vows to do whatever it takes to save the family farm.

Once the Army discharges him following World War II, Layken returns to Missouri to find his legacy in shambles and in jeopardy. A foreclosure notice from the bank doubles the threat. He appeals to the local banker for more time-a chance to rebuild, plant, and harvest crops and time to heal far away from the noise of bombs and gunfire.

But the banker firmly denies his request. Now what?

Then, the banker makes an…


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