Feature Image Credit: @peak_reads

Let’s face it…most of the sex education we’ve received did not come from a health class at school. Most of the knowledge was learned along the way, sometimes through bad advice and not-so-healthy experiences. With sexuality and relationships rapidly evolving, the school system can’t – or won’t – always keep up. That being said, we’ve rounded up a list of books that you’ll probably never see in a school library, but any of these gems would make a great addition to your bookshelf at home.

Wild Power by Sjanie Hugo Wurlitzer & Alexandra Pope

For so long, discussing periods was a “taboo” topic, but as times have changed, so has the conversation. This book truly taps into the ability to embrace and respect the menstrual cycle, while eliminating negative thoughts about this miraculous human system. This book allows for women to step into the power of their period and gain a better understanding of the physiology of the process. You’ll be able to tune into your body’s inner architecture, learn how to calm the nervous system, and receive insight about general wellbeing. Filled with quotes, stories, and humor, this book truly embraces the Feminine.

It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie H. Harris

Recently updated, this new edition is a must-have for families looking to cultivate open communication about puberty, sexuality, and human bodies. This informative book is all-inclusive, using gender-neutral terms, and covers a variety of LGBTQIA topics. It provides important details on safer sex while explaining newer advancements in contraception. In addition, it covers abortion, as well as an honest look at the laws surrounding it. Beyond that, it touches on STIs, consent, and sexual abuse. It’s Perfectly Normal does an excellent job at making those hard-to-talk about subjects a little easier to discuss.

Pregnant Girl by Nicole Lynn Lewis

Many times, pregnant teens are led to believe that their future is bleak, and they can say goodbye to any dreams of going to college. Nicole was one of those girls, and as a Black woman, was up against an even harsher set of statistics. Even though she experienced some hard times, she decided to defy the odds and go to college, with her newborn in tow. This experience inspired her to create an organization called Generation Hope, to provide support for teen parents and their kids, giving them a chance at a better life. This story will inspire those who face similar obstacles to not give up on their dreams.

Coming Out, Again by Sabrina Symington

For those who never have to face the experience of coming out, the reality of it can be hard to grasp. For some, it’s even coming out in different ways, from bisexual to gay, lesbian to transgender, or even changing gender identity completely. In this book, Sabrina points out the diversity in the queer community and includes what it means to be polyamorous, asexual, and autigender. She explains how sexuality and gender are not just one thing; in fact, it encompasses many things that can shift throughout life. Packed with pride and self-love, this book proves that there is no wrong way to be you.

The Savvy Ally by Jeannie Gainsburg

This easygoing guidebook provides a path for those who simply aren’t sure how to be an ally to the LGBTQ+ community. Jeannie has filled the pages with useful information that includes tips on what to say as well as what not to say if someone comes out to you, advice on how to handle challenging conversations, and even how to avoid frequent faux pas. With suggestions on how to approach common concerns, this book can help to alleviate potential awkwardness. The Savvy Ally makes a great resource for educators, medical professionals, and even parents who are looking for ways to best be an ally.

Sex Plus by Laci Green 

Time Magazine has named sex educator Laci Green the millennial Dr. Ruth for a reason – she knows her stuff. Sex Plus covers questions that many are curious about but too shy to ask. From going over how to talk to your partner about what you really want to having safe sex, this one-of-a-kind book has got it covered. Laci has learned to tackle those tough questions and turn them into informative yet non-judgmental conversations. She’ll touch on consent, anatomy, and even bust some common myths. Funny and empowering, this educational piece is one you’ll want to add to your collection.

Beyond Birds and Bees by Bonnie J. Rough

When Bonnie relocated from America to Amsterdam, she experienced culture shock, but in an unexpected way. She noticed that the Dutch approach to sexuality was much more open and even welcomed into conversations. She learned that sex education began in kindergarten and puberty is not something kids are embarrassed of. She now believes that normalizing human sexuality from an early age will not only set children up for success but will also promote gender equality. Wanting to share this concept with her homeland, Bonnie hopes that Americans can start to progress onto a similar path.

Good Talk by Mira Jacob

Mira Jacob has her hands full raising a very curious six-year-old boy. Half-Indian, half-Jewish, her son has many questions about skin color, race, and everything in between. As the 2016 election was in full swing and Z began to ask more hard-hitting questions, Mira thought long and hard about how she wanted to answer with both honesty and love. As she reflected on where she received answers when she had questions about religion, gender, and sexuality, she decided to pen this memoir. Filled with vulnerability, love, and conversation, this beautiful book takes a look at how to have those important talks at any age.

Celebrate Your Body by Sonya Renee Taylor

This is the book every girl from ages 8-12 needs in their life. Instead of approaching puberty with fear, this body-positive book encourages young girls to face it head-on feeling empowered and excited. With its real-talk approach, the pages cover everything from pubic hair and period care to tips on how to better understand changing feelings and a body that’s transforming. Relatable and inclusive, this girl guide is packed with educational information, tips for self-care, and how to stand up to peer pressure. Puberty can be a scary and stressful thing, but it doesn’t have to be with the right tools. 

The ABC’s of LGBT+ by Ashley Mardell

YouTuber Ash Mardell’s guide to understanding the LGBT+ community is both informative and thoughtful. She takes a deep dive into what it means to embrace the gender and sexual identity of others. This helpful book allows the reader to gain a better understanding of the struggles that LGBTQIA+ humans face, especially teens. Providing in-depth definitions, the explanation of pronouns, and personal stories, this guide is a great resource for teachers, parents, and friends that are hoping to learn more. Full of heart and knowledge, it’s an amazing resource for all LGBTQIA+ allies.