Whenever people talk about how their parents explained to them how babies were born, there's always a multitude of ridiculous stories. Some got updated lessons every year, which increased in detail as they aged, as it became "more appropriate" but also "more awkward" to do so (me). Others just came home from school and there was a book about all their Parts waiting of them on their bed, never to be spoken of aloud (my best friend). Hey, it literally takes all kinds to make a world. Cory Silverberg and Fiona Smyth know this and they've written and illustrated a book to solve that very problem.
What Makes a Baby: A Book for Every Kind of Family and Every Kind of Kid aims to be just about the most inclusive sex ed book for kids you've ever come across. Described by the Globe and Mail as "completely and intentionally vague", it has none of this mommy and daddy love each other and he watered her flower with his watering can and then a baby was born stuff; What Makes a Baby is for kids around four to eight years of age, teaching them about"conception, gestation, and birth" using really specific language. The book doesn't "gender people or body parts. Instead:
"...it teaches curious kids about conception, gestation, and birth in a way that works regardless of whether or not the kid in question was adopted, conceived using reproductive technologies at home or in a clinic, through surrogacy, or the old fashioned way (you know, with two people and some sexual intercourse), and regardless of how many people were involved, their orientation, gender and other identity, or family composition."
Silverberg is a sex educator, which explains why the book has a thorough reader's guide for parents. In an interview with sex writers Em and Lo, he explained a little bit about the choices he made when writing the book – like why he decided to use such specific language when describing how babies are born "coming out through a part of the body that most people call the vagina":
"Language is language, and it doesn’t become any more or less important when we’re using it to describe our bodies than it does when we’re using it to describe our feelings, or a book we read or our favorite toy. I think kids should know all kinds of words for different body parts including genitals.
Why did I write 'most people call the vagina'? Again, because I think it’s more honest. Not every one calls that part of the body the vagina. Most people do, but not everyone does. So why not just say that? It opens up the opportunity for a conversation about language and doesn’t foreclose options for the readers."
Silverberg – who also co-wrote a book called The Ultimate Guide to Sex and Disability – is planning a follow-up book that will cover the different ways babies are actually made for older kids (like through IVF) that he says will be "three times as long," which is bound to be just as purposeful. "So many of us have the experience of having to change words in books while we read them to kids so that they reflect our experience," says Silverberg. "I wanted a book that would require the least amount of re-writing...." It'll be cool to see what he comes up with next, though when he gets to the teen set, there might be slightly more market competition.
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