sex education

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Banned Books 2016 – FEBRUARY READ – It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie H. Harris and Michael Emberley

Published February 29, 2016 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

The definitive book about puberty and sexual health for today’s kids and teens, now fully updated for its twentieth anniversary.

For two decades, this universally acclaimed book on sexuality has been the most trusted and accessible resource for kids, parents, teachers, librarians, and anyone else who cares about the well-being of tweens and teens. Now, in honor of its anniversary, It’s Perfectly Normal has been updated with information on subjects such as safe and savvy Internet use, gender identity, emergency contraception, and more. Providing accurate and up-to-date answers to nearly every imaginable question, from conception and puberty to birth control and STDs, It’s Perfectly Normal offers young people the information they need—now more than ever—to make responsible decisions and stay healthy.

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Logo designed by Luna’s Little Library

Welcome to our second banned book of 2016! As always, we’ll be looking at why the book was challenged, how/if things have changed since the book was originally published and our own opinions on the book. Here’s what we’ll be reading for the rest of 2016…

MARCH – Saga Volume 1- Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples

APRIL – A Stolen Life- Jaycee Dugard

MAY – Drama- Raina Telgemeier

JUNE -Captain Underpants- Dav Pilkey

JULY – A Bad Boy Can Be Good For A Girl- Tanya Lee Stone

AUGUST – Bless Me Ultima- Rudolfo Anaya

SEPTEMBER – Bone- Jeff Smith

OCTOBER – The Glass Castle- Jeanette Walls

NOVEMBER- Gossip Girl-  Cecily Von Ziegesar

DECEMBER – My Sister’s Keeper- Jodi Picoult

But back to this month….

It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie H. Harris and Michael Emberley

First published: 1994

In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2014 (source)

Reasons:  Nudity, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group. Additional reasons: “alleges it is child pornography”

Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH: No, not really. Even though the book was published just over twenty years ago I still count it as a fairly recently published book. The nineties was still a somewhat “enlightened age,” if that makes sense and I don’t think anything about this book is so shocking that it should be challenged/banned. Also, can I just say – one of the reasons for being challenged is “sex education,” why on earth should that be a reason to challenge a book? Surely sex education is a good thing? In my opinion it is anyway. Some of the cartoons in the book are perhaps a little surprising as they are quite graphic (and I have to admit to having a little childish chuckle over some of them) but everything is very honestly presented, no holds barred, useful and factual information.

CHRISSI: Not at all. I think it is a decent book to teach preteens about important information that they need to know. Yes, it could be… er… interesting in the classroom, but what’s not to say that a book like this can’t be available in the library? In my opinion it certainly should be available. I understand that some of the cartoons are rather graphic, but not overly so and I wouldn’t call it ‘child pornography’. No, just no!

How about now?

BETH: *sighs* Especially not now! With the wealth of sexual information out there for teenagers who are considering having sex, I would rather that they are well informed of the risks they are taking rather than being mis-informed or knowing very little and ending up in a situation where they are suddenly forced to confront a potential child, a STD or worse. I remember my sex education at school which unfortunately wasn’t great – they just showed us an excruciatingly embarrassing video and BOOM that was it, we were expected to be experts. On the lighter side, I do remember Chrissi coming home from school and telling us very excitedly that she learnt all about “pyramids” at school that day. You know, the ones you have once a month?! I can remember so clearly our parents being in absolute hysterics.

CHRISSI: Ha, ha, ha! Sorry, just reading my innocent comment from my childhood. I can’t say that I really remember the sex education that I received at school, but I do recall a video and it was awkward. I think it needs to be less awkward in schools so that preteens and teenagers are ready and educated about important information. A book like this is just a starting point.

What did you think of this book?

BETH: I thought it was pretty great. We need more books like this to teach teenagers the right information about sex so they can make the most appropriate and hopefully best choices for themselves at that time. I really think this book will give them the answers they need and help deal with the difficult times that are practically guaranteed with puberty and adolescence.

CHRISSI:  It made me chuckle. Some of it would go over children’s heads, especially the very science-y parts, however I think it’s important and informative and it should definitely be a book that young teenagers should be reading. It gives answers to the questions that they may be unsure about and delivers it in a real and honest manner. I certainly don’t think it should be banned!

Would you recommend it?

BETH: But of course!

CHRISSI: Of course!

Beth’s personal star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

Join us again on the last Monday of March when we will be discussing Saga Volume 1 by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples.

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This Book Is Gay – James Dawson

Published August 22, 2015 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

Former PSHCE teacher and acclaimed YA author James Dawson gives an uncensored look at what it’s like to grow up as LGBT. Including testimonials from people ‘across the spectrum’, this inclusive book explores everything anyone who ever dared to wonder wants to know – from sex to politics, how to pull, stereotypes, how to come-out and more. Spike Gerrell’s hilarious illustrations combined with funny and factual text make this a must-have read.

What did I think?:

With its bright rainbow cover and “look at me” title, This Book Is Gay is no shrinking violet. Thank goodness for that! This is a frank and humorous look at sexuality across the LGBT* spectrum that is surely a godsend to teenagers in today’s world who are confused or curious about their gender preference and even as a heterosexual female, I found this book to be an entertaining and fact-filled journey where there is always something to be learned.

James Dawson is brutally honest about the fact that despite his experience in sex education for youngsters he is by no means a complete expert, he just talks about what he knows. I’ve read some reviews on this book and the main criticism seems to be that he doesn’t really explore other types of sexuality, for example asexual and pan-sexual preferences. Yes, this is the case but sexuality in general is such a huge topic and I feel if he was to explore everything in detail the book would lose something of its undeniable charm.

Most of the information I read I was aware of before but I was also surprised to learn a few things as well. There are also certain things I have a mental image of thanks to James that I don’t think I will be able to get rid of for a while! e.g. how to pleasure a man – DO NOT shake it like a tomato ketchup bottle! The author also covers a wide variety of topics from how to come out and the ins and outs of gay sex to gay icons and stereotypes. The most important message he covers through the novel however is that it’s okay to be yourself, to be unique and to fancy whoever floats your boat be that man, woman or both. This is a fantastic statement to send to all teenagers as we all remember how tough adolescence is, regardless of sexuality and I have to applaud James Dawson for this.

As well as this, the author provides testimonials from real teenagers across the globe as they talk about their own experiences with sexuality. And if this wasn’t enough, a comprehensive list of places to go to for more information, phone numbers and websites is provided at the end of the book so people can make use of the services that are provided but perhaps little known about. Finally, the illustrations by Spike Gerrell which accompany James’ hilarious and honest text are just the icing on the cake and provided quite a few laugh out loud moments for myself and the people that I immediately thrust this book upon. I highly recommend this book for anyone curious about sexuality and especially for those struggling teenagers out there. It’s a hugely important read that I can only hope will be stocked in school libraries and be referred to in sex education classes for years to come.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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