One of the best books on the topics of bodies, sex, and emotions that I’ve encountered.
Tell me is a book for children that really want to know about bodies, sex and emotions—and aren’t afraid to ask
Written by Katharina von der Gathen and illustrated by Anke Kuhl
Translated by Shelley Tanaka
An honest and funny book for children aged 8 and up who really want to know about bodies, sex and emotions – and aren’t afraid to ask.
How much sex education do children need? As much as they ask for, says leading sex educationist Katharina von der Gathen in this book about navigating puberty. And exactly what do children want to know? Ask them!
What is so important about the body? Why do bodies grow hair? Why do people kiss? Is it embarrassing to have sex? Why do breasts hang down? What does it feel like to be in love? Can a grandmother have children? What is a hormone? Can a child fart when it’s inside a mother’s body? What is sexy?
Expert Katharina von der Gathen collects 99 questions asked anonymously by children in the classroom about the human body, love and sexuality – the questions are real and the answers are both inclusive, respectful and direct. Funny images help give children the information they really want to know in a form they can relate to without feeling embarrassed, making this a perfect sex education book for children and teenagers, parents and teachers.
“Children should be familiar with their bodies from an early age. They need words for the various parts of a body, they should learn to name their feelings, to stand up for themselves, to feel strong in their bodies and to keep boundaries without feeling bad.” —Katharina von der Gathen.
Designed to be read with spine on top, this age-appropriate book is a handy resource for every family and school classroom discussing puberty, consent and sexuality from ages 8 and up.
Katharina von der Gathen works in the area of sex education with children and adolescents from a wide range of backgrounds. She lives in Germany.
Anke Kuhl is one of Germany’s leading children’s book illustrators, whose awards include the German Youth Literature Award in 2011.
Country of Origin Germany Reader Age 8-12 year Book Size N/A 18.5 × 14 cm ISBN TellMe 9781776572328
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Outside in World –
Von der Gathen answers are direct and frank, and the accompanying lively and funny comic-style illustrations from German illustrator Anke Kuhl have been created in such a way as to avoid embarrassment. Tell Me is an important resource for children and teenagers, teachers and families.
Travis Jonkers, 100 Scope Notes, School Library Journal –
This is the sort of book that compels me to make the Astonishingly Unconventional list every year. It’s about a topic that most wouldn’t expect a children’s book to cover, featuring unexpected illustrations and a unique design (spine on top). It also happens to be one of the best books on the topics of bodies, sex, and emotions that I’ve encountered.
San Francisco Book Review –
This is a great book of questions and answers that will spur discussion and help start or continue essential conversations about growing up.
NZ Booklovers –
What I like about this book is that the questions are in no particular order so you can read the book any which way or dip in and out. You can also look up specific questions in the back of the book. Some of the questions are expected, but many are not. Tell Me is amusing and cute as it is eye opening.
Ako Journal –
Tell Me provides a wonderful way for children to address their curiosity safely on their own, or begin a more in-depth conversation with a parent or teacher. There is lots of nonjudgmental information about consent, identity, puberty and more, and sweetly humorous cartoon illustrations accompany each question (including naked genitals, so be prepared for some giggles as children learn).
The Sapling –
The illustrations are gentle and often humorous without being childish or silly. They add another layer of understanding to the questions and answers and help take some of the potential awkwardness out of the content matter.
Julie Danielson, Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast –
The author is a sex educator, and this book is the result of a project she did with students around nine and ten years of age. She asked them to write down their questions about “their bodies, puberty, love and sexuality and anonymously put them into a box with the promise that I would answer every question.” There are 99 of them in this book — with illustrations that are funny and tender all at once — and always anatomically correct, of course. Von der Gathen takes their answers very seriously, never engaging in a patronizing tone. She is refreshingly honest. Unflinching even, with an economy of information; she answers many of these questions in two to three paragraphs.
Kirkus Reviews –
As the subtitle indicates, this German import answers a whole host of questions kids curious about sex want the answers to. There are 99 in all, covering anatomy, puberty, reproduction, sexual and gender identity, and, of course, sex. The book opens vertically, with the page below the gutter displaying both the handwritten question and a cartoon drawing, frequently humorous. The second question, “Are there different penises,” is illustrated with a double lineup of 10 unengorged penises complete with hair and scrota, some circumcised, some not, all verifiably different. Its placement so early in the book ensures readers know what they’re getting into in terms of both tone and frankness. Sex educator von der Gathen’s answers appear on the flip side; all employ appropriate vocabulary that’s respectful of the capabilities of their audience and are calmly inclusive of variations in human and cultural experience. While the book early on establishes the fact that there are “people who identify as a different gender than the one they are born with,” it often uses gendered language to describe experiences: “Girls get their periods for the first time and boys have their first ejaculation” during puberty, for instance. When discussing sexual intimacy, the importance of consent is ever present. Kuhl’s cartoons depict adults and children of different racial presentations and include several same-sex couples.Funny and frank, this will be an important resource for many kids.