The Birds, the Bees, and the Berenstain Bears by Stan and Jan Berenstain

The Birds, the Bees, and the Berenstain BearsThe Birds, the Bees, and the Berenstain Bears by Stan Berenstain and Jan Berenstain

My rating: ★★★☆☆

This was an acceptable effort toward introducing young children to the concept of birth. On the other hand, I found it disappointing; it doesn't address "the birds and the bees" at all, though the title implies otherwise. It only deals with pregnancy and delivery, not conception.

The reason is obvious: teaching children of any age about conception is in many places incredibly taboo. I don't agree with that, personally, and think it's far preferable to introduce children to the scientific idea of conception when they're old enough to start wondering about it, rather than trying to keep them in the dark and building up sex as some kind of massive, taboo secret they're not allowed to learn; I think presenting it honestly to a child--rather than keeping it a secret or teaching it as something shameful--would help cultivate a more mature understanding of human sexuality in these children's future adolescence and adulthood. But that's just me, and I recognize that even those parents who don't find sexuality to be some kind of damnable sin aren't often comfortable with the idea of their children learning the related concepts before puberty. (Though I would argue that dumping all that information on a child at once right when it's about to start effecting them--or even worse, after it has--can create a truly frightening and confusing experience for the child.) It's just that history has shown that taking away the taboo of sex and opening up communication about its function, its purpose, and its side effects has had the wonderful effect of decreasing teen/childhood pregnancy rates, which is always a good thing in a society with too many babies to begin with.

So I take this book, mediocre though it is, as a step in the right direction. I didn't teach as much as I felt it should, but it taught far more than it would have been allowed to just a few decades earlier.

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