It's Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health

Book review by
Darienne Stewart, Common Sense Media
It's Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health Book Poster Image
Informative, updated, explicit sex ed book.

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Covers broad range of topics in great detail including male and female sexual anatomy, types of sexual behavior, masturbation, conception, abstinence, pregnancy, birth, abortion, sexually transmitted infections, sexual abuse, and online safety. Illustrations depict male and female genitalia, sex organs, types of contraception, and intercourse. Provides both scientifically accurate language and more casual terms. Clear chapter titles and index make information easy to find.

Positive Messages

It's healthy and normal to feel sexual desire and be curious about sex. Sexual activity can be enjoyable and fun, but also requires mature decision-making and introduces risks including unintended pregnancy, diseases, and confusing or upsetting emotions. Healthy sexual relationships are caring, thoughtful, and respectful.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Promotes honest, open communication about sexual health and thoughtful, respectful sexual behavior. Encourages young people to bring questions and concerns to trusted adults and, when appropriate, a doctor. A frankly curious bird and bashful bee appear throughout the book, helping to show that it's OK to consider sex fascinating, gross, or somewhere in between.

Violence

Discusses sexual abuse and risk of danger from online encounters.

Sex

Explains sexual activity in detail, including intercourse, oral sex, anal sex, and masturbation. Some of this behavior is depicted in illustrations. Extensive information on safer sex practices and emphasis on caring, thoughtful, and respectful sexual relationships.

Language

Along with scientifically accurate terms, notes casual and slang language such as "balls," "nuts," "boobs," and "boner."

Consumerism

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the 20th-anniversary edition of It's Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health is an unflinching and fully illustrated guide to sexual health for girls and boys that presents sexual activity as enjoyable but requiring mature, careful decision-making. It supports postponing and abstaining from sex but also provides information on contraception and abortion. Author Robie H. Harris and illustrator Michael Emberley (whose collaborations for younger readers include It's Not the Stork! and It's So Amazing!) use both scientific language and slang to ensure both accuracy and relevance. Plentiful graphic illustrations show female and male genitalia, sexual intercourse, masturbation, childbirth, and more. The text is comprehensive and detailed, describing different types of sexual behavior (including, briefly, oral and anal sex), explaining what orgasm feels like, and comparing the availability and effectiveness of various forms of birth control. Parents will want to review the content before sharing the updated guide with children, and be prepared to discuss. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byTinasantos October 1, 2018

Porn Book

This is a porn book, totally inappropriate for children any age. Please, watch your children, it is in a children's Library in Massachusetts. I questioned... Continue reading
Adult Written byMommy-Reads August 4, 2018

Porn for children

Please do not allow your children to view this book! It contains graphic illustrations of sex acts and genitalia. All sexual behavior is considered perfectly... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bybeatoriche October 25, 2018

Absolutely fine for kids, and a fantastic sex ed book

As someone who can personally attest to reading this book as a child, it is a fantastic sex education book. The claims of this being 'pornography for chil... Continue reading

What's the story?

IT'S PERFECTLY NORMAL starts by defining sex: gender, reproduction, desire, and intercourse. It depicts different types of bodies and internal and external sex organs, then explains how girls' and boys' bodies -- and feelings -- change during puberty. The section on families discusses sexual intercourse, conception, pregnancy, birth, and other options for starting families (such as in vitro fertilization -- IVF -- and adoption). Another section focuses on making decisions about abstinence, postponing sexual intercourse, and using contraception, and outlines current U.S. laws regarding abortion. The final section covers online safety, sexual abuse, sexually transmitted infections, HIV/AIDS, and making healthy, responsible choices.

Is it any good?

Human sexuality is timeless but not unchanging -- and this fresh update of Robie H. Harris' 1994 classic helps guide kids coming of age at a time when digital media can be both a blessing and a curse. It's Perfectly Normal aims to arm kids with knowledge to make informed, thoughtful decisions about their sexual behavior and relationships, and it does so with a frankness that some families will find refreshing while others may feel it's inappropriate.

Harris and illustrator Michael Emberley take a straightforward and inclusive approach, portraying a diverse range of ethnicities and body types, discussing different religious and personal beliefs, and encouraging respect for individual preferences. They also dive into contemporary concerns about cyberbullying, respecting boundaries, sexting, and online pornography and misinformation. Parents should review it first to make sure it's right for their children and to prepare for follow-up conversations.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why people often are uncomfortable talking about sex and whether It's Perfectly Normal makes it easier. Are you more comfortable talking about sex with your family, or do you prefer learning from books like this?

  • Have you come across sexual content online or in talking with friends that's upsetting or confusing?

  • Do you have unanswered questions after reading this book? If so, talk to your doctor or another trusted adult.

Book details

Themes & Topics

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