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It's Perfectly Normal: A Book about Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  1,261 ratings  ·  171 reviews
"Alternately playful and realistic, Emberley's. . . . art reinforces Harris's message that bodies come in all sizes, shapes, and colors -- and that each variation is 'perfectly normal.'" -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY (starred review)

When young people have questions about sex, real answers can be hard to find. Providing accurate, unbiased answers to nearly every imaginable question,
Paperback, 89 pages
Published July 22nd 2004 by Candlewick Press (MA) (first published September 5th 1994)
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Mel Jones Thanks to your comment, I now know this is EXACTLY the book that I have been searching for to buy my 15 year old. So, thank you :)


Thanks to your comment, I now know this is EXACTLY the book that I have been searching for to buy my 15 year old. So, thank you :)


The lesbian mother who wants her daughter to never suffer the way she did as a teen because of people just like you <3(less)
Jennifer This book is a great resource. If your goal is for your child to know nothing until high school, then this likely isn't for you, because sex education…moreThis book is a great resource. If your goal is for your child to know nothing until high school, then this likely isn't for you, because sex education starts much earlier than that, by age appropriate learning including knowing the correct names for body parents, and understanding consent. I completely disagree with the comments that there is "overdone nudity and vulgarity" or that it is meant to teach them "nothing is wrong with anything". It is meant to teach them that sexuality is perfectly normal, which is it.(less)

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 ·  1,261 ratings  ·  171 reviews

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Had I been asked to express my feeling in a single word, I would say, 'WOW!' Actually, that one word depict this book. And, I do recommend this book to everyone! (Age does matter, though.)



এই ছবিদুইটা পৃথিবীর অনযতম সুনদর দুইটা ছবি। এবং এগুলো দেখে হলে পরশন জাগা সবাভাবিক, আমরা কিভাবে আসলাম? আমাদের আনার জনয আমাদের বাবা-মাদের কী কী পরিবরতনের মধয দিয়ে আসতে হয়েছে? এই যে এগুলো জানার চেষটায় যে পড়া, ওটাই যে যৌনশিকষা। এটা খুবই সবাভাবিক একটা বযাপার। কিনতু এই সবাভাবিক বযাপারটার মধযে কেন লজজা বা লুকোচুরি থাকে
Nov 22, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: older children and parents reading with them
Warning to parents: I highly recommend that parents read this book or at least preview the chapters to fully understand all of the topics that are covered. Selectively choosing the sections that a child is mature enough to understand will make this book a handy reference. Older children (likely middle grade and older) can read the book independently, with parents standing by to answer questions. I recommend that parents read this book with their tweens (the book recommends ages 10 and up.)

Our gi
Feb 25, 2014 rated it did not like it
This book is being promoted by Planned Parenthood and the American Library Association, who are recommending the book for Common Core standards across the nation.The sexualization of children was once called child abuse, but we now have elevated lust to a civil right. The culture has been so desensitized to the destructive nature of lust, that any suggestion of restraint or modesty is met with epithets of "bigot" or "homophobe," which completely avoids the real issue. We restrain every other emo ...more
Angi Naerebout
Waaay to graphic for a 10 year old, or even a young teenager. All of the written work is very good and scientific. But I do not think a 10 year old should have a step by step description of the act of sex. Also, it seems to take the view that you will see many different naked people throughout your life. There were waaaaaaay to many cartoons of naked people. I was uncomfortable with it. I don't think there is anything wrong with only seeing your spouse and children naked. It was just to much. Pe ...more
Nov 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
TBH, I learned a few things...
We just got a replacement edition at my library of this classic book on sexual health for pre-teens and teens, so I thought I'd take a minute and review it.

I'm please that they have added an updated chapter on LGBTQ+ identities to this edition. I do have some quibbles with the authors' handling of transgender people, however. The way they define transgender is: "A transgender person is someone who crosses from the gender that person was born with to the opposite gender, or as some say, to the ot
Molly Cinderella
Apr 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book was instrumental during puberty for me. It had a lot of very good, age-appropriate information and includes information about masturbation, bisexuality, homosexuality, and the fact that everyone has differently shaped bodies and that's OK. There was a lot of info about the basic biology behind puberty, which was really important for 10-year-old me: the changes you go through are a lot less scary when you feel like you understand them. There was also a really beautiful page on how some ...more
Sep 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This cute and no-nonsense volumes covers factual information on a wide range of basic health and sex-Ed subjects, at an accessible middle school level.

I am teaching health to middle and high schoolers and I have been unhappy with the big gaps in many of the standard curricula. Even sex-Ed textbooks seem to be yucked out by any description of sex beyond something that generates pregnancies and spreads infections. But if we leave out those important conversations about why people would WANT to ha
Dec 11, 2011 rated it liked it
Summary: This book is a guide for parents to open a dialogue with their child about sex. It covers subjects such as sexual activity, birth control, gender issues, body parts, and puberty.
Personal Reaction: I’d like to start by saying that I went to a bookstore and five libraries before I found this book, which is kept on reserve at Newton Grisham Library. Quite frankly, I don’t understand what the big deal is in regards to this book. Why is this a book that so many feel should be banned in most
Robert Beveridge
Mar 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
Robie H. Harris, It's Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health 2/E (Candlewick, 2004)

I was a kid in the seventies, and at the time, sex-ed manuals for kids were pretty bland stuff. Sure, they had funny illustrations and got the point across, but information was the order of the day, and it was all designed to let you know that all those changes your body was going through were normal. You weren't alone. Robie Harris' controversial, but very entertaining, It's Perfect
Feb 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
A condensed look at sexual education that looks at so much and answers questions all teens and tweens ask at this time in their life.
Plus it's a frequently banned book so I just HAD to read it.
As a librarian, a rule of thumb is when asked. "Is this appropriate for children?" or "all these books are okay for kids to read right?" is that these books are geared towards a juvenile audience, but they may or may not be appropriate for your child. Please read first as a parent and then decided base on
Dec 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is the best book to give anyone who is suffering the times of change that most adolescents go through. Filled with great illustrations and real-world information, this book holds nothing back. Is it too graphic? I don't think so. Is it too much for younger kids? You bet it is, but for those who are entering puberty and past, this book should be in their hands immediately. Every library should have this book in their collection to help youngsters understand their bodies. And personally, if y ...more
Jun 14, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health is a book for young adults about the physical and emotional changes one’s body goes through during puberty. Harris and Emberley also detail different perspectives on families and offer health advice.
It’s perfectly normal has very straight-forward text that could be easily grasped by younger middle school students. In fact, older students may feel patronized by the simplicity of the text. Illustrations of a bird and a bee,
Mar 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is a very concise, well-written book with accurate but non-threatening illustrations for the pre-adolescent set. I bought it at the same time I bought Usborne's What's Happening to Me? However, I held this one back for a couple of years, thinking that my son wasn't quite ready for all of the information in it at the age of nine, and that the Usborne book was perfectly pitched at him.

Alas, I think I waited a little too long. My boy had some questions recently that were addressed more fully i
Beth Cato
Jul 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle, 2017, nonfiction
I can see why this book may be deemed "offensive" by some. It is very blunt in how it addresses sexuality. There are many drawings of naked people of all ages and shapes and races; I don't see this as a bad thing, though. Everything builds towards the message of the very title of the book--it's perfectly normal to have a body with these parts, and have them do certain things, or to have intense dreams with bodily responses, etc. This is intended for a middle grade audience, and offers a simply-s ...more
Jan 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I would recommend this book for kids about to go through puberty as long as it is accompanied by more discussion with parents/trusted adults. I would go more in depth about gender and sexuality (in simple terms, of course) as well as more recent findings and why things are controversies in the world. There would definitely also have to be a discussion about how much of what they have learned about sexuality is shared with their peers from them - it must be clear that those discussions are had be ...more
Oct 07, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 722
This book has really great information, the newest edition includes bisexuality, talks about abortion rights and contraception and has really thorough but not graphic illustrations (cartoons).

There were a few things I didn't like:

Sometimes the three-column text format and spliting the chapters without moveing to a new page made the flow of reading a little awkward.

The gender discussion does not include transgendered individuals and instead says the male and female are genders.

The terms "feeli
Nov 25, 2014 rated it liked it
This book has a lot of information. It is written in a way that preteens and teens would understand. While many of the pictures are a bit graphic and embarrassing, most are either funny or helpful for those that are more visual. Otherwise a post it could be used to block out the images you don't care to look at. This is definitely a book I could have used when I was younger. Many of my questions would have been answered and I wouldn't have had to rely on learning so much from my friends in high ...more
William Andrews
Feb 20, 2014 marked it as to-read
Allowing trash like this book in American schools points a finger at the precipitous drop in the effectiveness of our churches teaching of the precepts of the Bible in America; eg. Where Homosexuality specifically is called a sin. The overwhelming acceptance of this carnal book is the disappointing message to the Christian community and esp to our Heavenly Father. What a shame!
Tattered Cover Book Store
This book is on the bibliography of books challenged, restricted, removed or banned in 2007-2008 put out by Robert P. Doyle and the American Library Association. More info at
Sep 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
Michael Emberley (Illustrator)
Publication Date: 2004
Publisher: Candlewick Press, Summerville, MA

Publishers Weekly
( January 29, 1996 ; 1-56402-159-9 )

In a starred review, PW said, "this intelligent, amiable and carefully researched book... frankly explains the physical, psychological, emotional and social changes that occur during puberty." Emberley's watercolor and pencil art "reinforces [the] message that bodies come in all sizes, shapes and colors-and that each variation is `perfectly normal.'
Sep 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Wanted to read this before giving it to my 13 year old daughter. It covers a lot of topics in detail that we’ve discussed concerning changing bodies and how babies are made. I really appreciated the fact it has information on birth control, reporting sexual abuse, and staying safe on the internet. It also contains information on heterosexual, homosexual, and bisexual relationships that is free from judgment.

I will admit a few of the excellent illustrations made my eyebrows go up to the top of my
Xenophon Hendrix
Feb 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I read through this to remind myself, for some fiction I've been working on, what today's sixth grader generally knows about sexuality. All things considered, I believe the book is excellent. I caught one mistake that might have been fixed in a later edition: Human beings have about 20,000 genes, not a 100,000. Other than that, it is accurate to the limits of my knowledge. Any quibbles I have with the book are on emphasis rather than facts.

The illustrations (all drawn) are clear and useful. Ther
Steve Tetreault
Dec 08, 2017 rated it liked it
The following response is from the class for which I read this book:

It’s Perfectly Normal was a pretty solid informational nonfiction text. It is not nearly as entertaining as Nikol Hasler’s Sex: A Book for Teens - in fact, it’s pretty dry. But it’s also aimed at a slightly younger audience - the copy I’m looking at states “For Age 10 And Up” on the cover, whereas I would be more likely to give the Hasler book to a 14+ reader. As I read It’s Perfectly Normal I kept thinking, “Yep, need to buy th
Feb 03, 2014 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: anthropomorphic birds and bees
Recommended to Kate by: Rivera
Shelves: ischool, teen-fic
Annotation: Replete with colorful, anatomically correct drawings on every page, this non-fiction book guides young people entering adolescence through the physical and emotional changes they may have begun experiencing already or will be soon. The author covers a very wide array of topics, including anatomy, hormones, sexual orientation, sexual development, the ins and outs of puberty, hygiene, conception, pregnancy, birth, intercourse, birth control, AIDS and other STDs, sexual abuse and even I ...more
Pedro C
Apr 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Non-fiction MS science series:

Harris, Robie. It's Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health (The Family Library) (1994).

This book might be an eye opener for many children. This book talks about puberty but goes into much more mature subjects. Some people might think that the graphics are obscene for middle school kids. I find it very educational as long there are some guidance and explaining in between.

The book has a great tone. It's matter-of-fact, comfortable, an
Alison Condliffe
Nov 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: banned-books
Really interesting factual book about development and sexuality, for children aged 10 and up. Written clearly, easy to read, detailed, not emotional. The pictures added to the text. I liked the explanations of the words and their origins, showing evolution of this education. Also good that LGBTQ included.
Nov 29, 2011 rated it liked it

Going through puberty can be a difficult, awkward, and challenging time for youth. It can also be difficult for kids to ask a trusted adult about what is happening to their bodies. Parents knowing when to start up the conversation and what they should say can also be trying.
This book does a great job of starting a conversation between a trusted adult and youth. It includes unbiased information that discusses the basics for younger children to understand and more in-depth scientific info
Nov 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent for pre-teens and above
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Robie H. Harris has written many award-winning books for children of all ages, including the definitive Family Library about sexuality: IT'S PERFECTLY NORMAL, IT'S SO AMAZING!, and IT'S NOT THE STORK! She lives in Massachusetts.