The Sunday Read: ‘The Books About Sex That Every Family Should Read’

How do you teach your child about sex? It’s a perennial question that has spawned hundreds of illustrated books meant to demystify sexual intercourse.

But for the Canadian author Cory Silverberg, there was something lacking. Silverberg, who uses they/them pronouns, felt that books on sex aimed at children often omitted mention of intimacy in the context of disability or gender nonconformity. And so they set about making a book of their own.

They wanted to tell a story of how babies are made that would apply to all kinds of children, whether they were conceived the traditional way or through reproductive technologies, whether they live with adoptive or biological parents, and no matter their family configuration.

The book critic Elaine Blair, who had also felt that children’s literature on sex was a little thin on inclusivity, recalls being drawn in by the fact that Silverberg’s “Sex is a Funny Word” is one of few children’s books that contend with the fact that children encounter representations of sexuality in the media.

Ms. Blair met up with Silverberg in Houston to understand the germ of the idea and the editorial process of delivering the book, from conception to print.

Additional production for The Sunday Read was contributed by Emma Kehlbeck, Parin Behrooz, Anna Diamond, Sarah Diamond, Jack D’Isidoro, Elena Hecht, Desiree Ibekwe, Saskia Solomon, Tanya Pérez, Marion Lozano, Naomi Noury, Krish Seenivasan, Corey Schreppel, Margaret Willison, Kate Winslett and Tiana Young. Special thanks to Mike Benoist, Sam Dolnick, Laura Kim, Julia Simon, Lisa Tobin, Blake Wilson and Ryan Wegner.

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