In a completely age-appropriate twist, the girls have taken an interest in how bodies work. We’ve always had good luck with Maggie in regards to books in that we can put out books on topics and she learns really well from repeated readings. However, the echolalia got us in a spot of embarrassment when we were trying to explain the concept of pregnancy. The book My Mom’s Having A Baby was phenomenal, but its factually correct and technical descriptions led to this exchange at the grocery store:
Clerk: Your mommy is having a baby!
Maggie: Daddies have sperm.
Me: *dies inside*
My embarrassment wasn’t that bad (particularly since I’m recounting it to you and possibly to Margaret’s future romantic partners), but it highlighted the need for exact speech. This kid doesn’t do euphemisms.
So off I went to the library. My first grab was The Magic School Bus Inside The Human Body, which is very busy and packed but okay for Maggie and Moira as long as we don’t read EVERY sidebar. Main pro: comic-book format. Main complaint: their travels through the body required me to go back and re-explain the digestive system so the kids didn’t think that nutrients flowed back down the spinal cord. Minor quibble, since there’s a full body map near the end, and it’s a lot of fun to read.
Moira, for what it’s worth, really enjoys shouting “ACHOO!” at the end when the bus snot-rockets out of poor goofy Arnold’s face. Good times.
Speaking of Moira, we noticed her eyeballing Daddy rather curiously in the bathroom one day so we decided to also get Who Has What? This book is phenomenal. What I really love–aside from the no-nonsense technical terms–are the equality-based details. One is the emphasis that girls and boys are mostly alike (both like to play catch, both like to snuggle dolls and stuffed animals); the other is that mommies feed babies from their breasts or from bottles! No judgment! And daddies can feed their babies bottles of pumped milk or formula! No judgment! There are also a ton of little details that make me happy: a drawing of a woman wearing hijab with her daughter at the beach, one of a mommy breastfeeding and a daddy bottle-feeding. What I REALLY like is that the main sibling characters–a little boy and little girl, natch–are people of color and part of a multiracial family with a white dad and black mom. All the background characters are an assortment of cultures and colors. Everybody gets their represent on. I have heard a lot about the author’s book It’s Not The Stork and if Who Has What? is any indication, we’ll have to borrow that one too.
My only minor quibble was the line about how when you grew up it would be your parts that determine whether you’re a man or a woman, but I figure we’ll build on the basic foundational biology aspects of anatomy before getting into the gender-as-a-spectrum-and-a-cultural-construct/transgender topics/body dysmorphia discussions.
And for some hands-on discussion, we got the Hape 5-layer Girl Body puzzle. Loves: the layering, the opportunity for discussing different systems, the ability to manipulate the parts. Dislikes: as far as I can see, even for the boy puzzle counterpart, this comes in white skin-blonde hair only. Not so much on full representation, which is disappointing but I suppose unsurprising.
It’s been a heck of an education around here! Now hopefully Moira won’t break down the bathroom door to say “WHATCHA DOING?!” to her father. Again.