Recommended books for Parents and Caregivers
I have read everything I can get my hands on by Deborah Roffman. Depending on the age of your children, I would grab at least one of her books for sure! I love that she identifies the Five Core Needs of children and adolescents to use as a lens through which we can respond to and analyze sexuality-related situations and questions that come up during family life. As parents and caregivers, it’s all job to provide affirmation, information giving, values clarification, limit setting and anticipatory guidance. I delve into all of these areas in my workshops if you want to learn more. In all of her books she provides examples and case studies that so many of us have lived through or that might even be currently challenging us. I wish I could be in a mom’s group with Deborah Roffman!
Everything you NEVER Wanted your Kids to Know About Sex (but were afraid they’d ask) is FUNNY! Drs Justin Richardson and Mark Schuster do a great job of providing medically accurate information in a way that is understandable to a parent that didn’t go to medical school. They use stories and examples from their experiences that anyone can relate to and that are frankly hilarious. I also love that this book is divided into chapters by topic area so someone could pick it up and choose with chapter is most relevant for what is coming up in your family without having to read the entire book.
Al Vernacchio is simply brilliant, and funny as well! If you want to understand a bit about how sex ed has developed historically and where it needs to go, grab this book! He’s trying to reframe the way we talk about and think about sex and sexuality, from a baseball metaphor (i.e., getting to a certain “base” and other such language about “conquests”) to ordering a pizza (i.e., we have to talk and discuss what we both like, what we refuse to eat, and then agree consensually on a pizza we’d like to order.) He has a TED Talk about this same topic which is a great way to spend eight minutes if you don’t have time to read the book!
Debra Haffner is another big name in sexual health education. The former CEO of Sexuality Information and Education Council of the US (SIECUS), Haffner is thought leader in the field, AND is also a parent herself! I like that this book has “values exercises” for every chapter so that the reader can figure out what they think before crafting the conversation with their young person. It’s academic but fun and very helpful.
I wish Lisa Damour was my therapist! Seriously, I learned so much from this book about the stages that girls go through as they develop through adolescence and into young adulthood. She breaks it all down, and helps parents understand how to not take typical adolescent behaviors personally, how to support these transitions, and how to look for red flags. I’m going to read it again and again!
This is a must read for anyone who is raising girls (or who cares at all about girls really!) It’s mind-blowingly real, devastating, and helpful all at the same time. Don’t miss it. Peggy Orenstein speaks in the SF Bay Area from time to time, and she has a great TED Talk about this topic. SO worth a listen.
Recommended Websites and Blogs for Parents and Caregivers
One of my favorite parenting websites and sex ed bloggers is Cath Hakanson. She is brilliant and funny and has more resources for parents on one site than anyone else I know! She is my go to for almost everything, especially for incredibly comprehensive booklists and resources. Check her out!
Sex Positive Families is on the cutting edge for parents who want to normalize conversations about sexuality. They have tons of resources for parents and caregivers. I also regularly follow Amy Lang who offers webinars for parents and Anya Manes. Anya has recordings of interviews on her site that she has done with experts in this field around the globe, and she is a SF Bay Area mama!
Gender Spectrum is the most comprehensive site I know of that offers resources for parents, schools and districts about including understanding gender and raising/teaching kids throughout the gender spectrum. They run an annual conference for professionals and families about gender that I have heard in amazing.
Teaching Sexual Health: Your Role as a Parent is a super helpful website created by the Canadian Department of Public Health. They offer parent guides on how to teach your kids of all ages about sexuality.
Talk With Your Kids has so many great resources in English and Spanish, including a timeline of what to talk about at each age and stage.
Welcoming Schools has helpful LGBTQ-related resources for kids and parents.
The books and websites that I promote and review here are some of my favorites. I only recommend resources that I have read cover to cover myself, either for my own professional development, or that I use regularly with my students or my own kids. The values in the resources I recommend align with my values as a health educator and as a parent. I encourage you to read any book first yourself before reading them with your children, to ensure that the values in the books align with your own family values. I have provided links* to purchase books online for your convenience, and of course I encourage you to support your local bookstores as well!
*Disclaimer: Please be aware that Askable Parents may receive compensation or some other benefit from affiliate third parties in exchange for featuring products on our website. Please contact us if you have any concerns or questions.