Time for another episode of Rebecca Recommends!
I recently read Talk To Me First: Everything You Need to Know to Become Your Kids’ “”Go-To”” Person about Sex by Deborah Roffman. Alongside books like the Robie Harris sexuality books (It’s Not The Stork for ages 4 and up, It’s So Amazing for ages 7 and up, and It’s Perfectly Normal for ages 10 and up), and Peggy Orenstein’s Girls & Sex, Roffman’s book is an excellent, excellent resource for parents who want to encourage healthy sexuality in their kids.
Roffman’s book is about much more than sexuality. Really, it’s about how we talk to children, and what children need from the adult nurturers around them so that they know how to make smart, thoughtful decisions. She talks about what children need, and based on those needs, she describes communication as a five piece suit, composed of 1) affirmation, 2) information, 3) clarity about values, 4) setting limits, and 5) anticipatory guidance.
Soon after I started reading it, I had a conversation about something else difficult (I can’t even recall what it was, but I know it didn’t have to do with sexuality) using Roffman’s ideas, and was able to navigate the awkwardness with grace and honesty. In terms of discussing sexuality, I have my own baggage and tricky spots—and Roffman’s book helped me approach some of those things that previously felt too scary or uncomfortable.
I recommend this book to anyone who wants to help guide children toward strong, healthy adulthood.
Image stolen from pearlblossomhighway.blogspot.com
Reading to my daughter tonight, as usual, she chose the books. First, she chose one called Reading Makes You Feel Good by Todd Parr. “I really like books by Todd Parr,” she said. She’d already been reading it to one of her babies when I came in. [My daughter has a lot of babies. Often, when I tell her the name of an author or illustrator, she says, “I have a baby named” (fill in the blank).]
In the rush of the day, it would be easy to just get to the meat and read the book, rather than taking a few seconds to name the author and illustrator. Some books we have (and some she picks from the library) are so ugly, cheesy, and poorly written that I don’t feel like elevating the schmucks who created them by giving them name. Meow. (Though those schmucks are probably making a living at what they do, so I should refrain from sneering, at least from that whole “making a living by writing books” angle.) But even with these stinky books, each time, when I read the title, then “written by…” and “illustrated by…” the child comes to know that there are people behind each book.
My daughter lives with two parents who are writers. As she grows up, she’ll know a lot–maybe too much–about what it means to be a writer. So many writers bemoan the current state of publishing…it’s a sad time for books, some say. But we could do a lot to improve the morale of writers if we do this simple act: when reading a book to a child, include the name of the writer and illustrator. Every time. Every book.
If we do, maybe that lucky child who doesn’t know any writers personally will come to know that someone sat and thought about the book, someone chose words and painted images to tell the story that lulls her to sleep.