Thursday, 28 April 2016

Sex Education for middle grade age groups - A veritable minefield! - A ReadItDaddy Editorial

Oh god. I think I've been dreading this time in Charlotte's life but both my wife and I knew it would arrive sooner or later.

Sex education. The mere mention of it is enough to make most folk run screaming into the hills at the best of times, but what happens when your child is in the "Middle Grade" age group and you realise that practically every book out there is either so babyishly simple that you might as well stick to telling your child that babies are delivered by Storks or are found under the gooseberry bush, or so devilishly complicated that the first thing they say when they look at a diagram in the book is "What IS that supposed to be, Mummy / Daddy?"

Thus we began our search for a book that would achieve an acceptable middle ground.

I know what you're thinking. We must be mad doing this when Charlotte is 8, barely out of the "pink princess" phase - why would we even think about opening a dialogue about sex at this point in her life. What are we, some kind of arch deviants?

Quite simply, we live in an imperfect world where little girls' bodies develop at different rates, and the real reason we wanted to give her a heads up was purely from a practical perspective.

Imagine being an early developer, going through massive physiological changes and suddenly waking up one morning to find that something has happened that your parents didn't warn you about.

I guess I don't need to draw a diagram or go into great detail but if you start down the route of talking about periods you might as well explain why they happen, and really roll the rock down the hill.

My wife wanted to avoid the scenario that happened to her. Basically finding out for herself one morning the hard way, and hopefully broach the subject in a mature and less 'giggly girls in class' way as you can easily imagine these things may pan out in schools (with every respect to teachers everywhere, it's not the way sex education is taught in schools that's the problem but it most definitely is the way girls and boys behave around the subject that has us thinking that this is something we'd rather give her prior knowledge of before hearing some second-hand horror story courtesy of someone in her class with an older sister who wanted to freak their younger sibling out).

The Twitterati were awesome when the question was posed to our followers - Several books were suggested (including the excellent "Let's Talk About Sex" by Robie H. Harris and Michael Emberley - a book that's constantly updated and reprinted to cover all new subject surrounding sexual health, body matters and wellbeing - going above and beyond the usual subjects and branching out into things that would turn my hair white (if I had any) when it comes to describing these to Charlotte.

I wonder what other book bloggers do, armed with the foreknowledge that books really can help in so many situations - even one as tricky as this. So far though it really does look like there's (once again) a middle grade gap in the market that direly needs filling.