Monday, April 6, 2009

How babies and families are made: (there is more than one way)

HQ53. S3 1988
How babies and families are made : (there is more than one way!)
by Patricia Schaffer
illustrated by Suzanne Corbett
Language: English 
Berkeley, Calif. : Tabor Sarah Books, ©1988.
52 p. : ill. ; 26 cm.
ISBN: 0935079173; 9780935079173
Recommended for ages: 8-12
Review: This is the first sex book ever published for children that mentions artificial insemination. This book includes a description of how babies are conceived naturally as well as how they are made in the cases of IVF, donor sperm, and adoption. The book also discusses pregnancy, miscarriage, fetal death, labor, types of delivery, prematurity, and disabilities. The author also discusses kinship in families and terminology for birth parents, step-parents, half-siblings, adopted parents, and biological parents. Language is straightforward and there are drawings in black and white with nudity, body parts, and a couple hugging in bed to represent sexual intercourse. Book could be updated to include donor egg, embryo, and surrogacy.
Annotation: The author writes in her preface that she “tried to make all children feel included in the pages of this book,” (including disabled and adopted children), earlier stating that to teach children that all children are conceived via sexual intercourse is “simply untrue.” The book begins with the story of Rachel and Michael, two friends who are alike in many ways, different in others, but both want to know how babies are born. With anatomical drawings labeling all reproductive parts of a woman’s and a man’s body, the book begins by describing what each part does, beginning with how the parts fit together during sexual intercourse. This is how Michael’s parents made him. The book then goes on to explain that not all babies are conceived in this way. Rachel, for example, was conceived via artificial insemination because her father could not make sperm. This book, published in 1988, explains that artificial insemination can also be used by women who do not want to make a baby with a man, thus making this a groundbreaking book being that it was the first non-fiction book published in the United States that hints at single mothers and lesbians who can also resort to artificial insemination in order to have children. Although not necessarily outdated, with so many books on assisted conception published since this one (and this one only covers one method), there are now many more to choose from. As its title states, this is also a book about how families are made and includes the subjects of divorce, death, and remarriage thereby also introducing children to the concepts of step-siblings and half-siblings. Because this is a short book, all these subjects can’t possibly be treated in more than a cursory way, therefore other books on human reproduction, blended families, and disability are recommended. Realistic black and white illustrations depict nudity and lovemaking. Although recommended for children ages 8-12, given the amount of text on each page, children may already be familiar with some of the concepts introduced in this book by the time they get to this one. 

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