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Beyond Birds and Bees: Bringing Home a New Message to Our Kids About Sex, Love, and Equality

4.43  ·  Rating details ·  248 ratings  ·  46 reviews
A provocative inquiry into how we teach our children about bodies, sex, relationships and equality—with revelatory, practical takeaways from the author's research and eye-opening observations from the world-famous Dutch approach

Award-winning author Bonnie J. Rough never expected to write a book about sex, but life handed her a revelation too vital to ignore. As an American
Paperback, 320 pages
Published August 21st 2018 by Seal Press
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Average rating 4.43  · 
Rating details
 ·  248 ratings  ·  46 reviews

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Jan 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'm really surprised this didn't get more press, because I found it interesting on a intellectual and political level and informative, thought-provoking, and relatable as a parent. Rough strikes a nice balance between personal anecdotes and research-based information (although I did wish she'd cited her sources a little more clearly). I think of myself as pretty liberal when it comes to sex ed and still found myself interrogating my own discomfort and hesitation. Lots of usable, practical ideas ...more
Sep 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Wow, this book was heterosexual. The perspective was so, so much more straight than I was expecting, and so most of the book wasn’t relatable.

It was an advice book second, and a memoir-y research-y book first. The author is a married straight who begins the narrative deeply uncomfortable talking to her young daughters anything having to do with sex and bodies, including the right names for genitals and reproductive organs. Then she moves to Amsterdam briefly and realizes the Dutch are way more
Mar 14, 2021 rated it really liked it
I found the book useful and informative and I anticipate that it will influence how and when I handle these kinds of topics. I agreed with many of the writer's arguments, though not every last one.

I wasn't completely sold on the presentation. The first two chapters consisted mainly of the writer reminiscing about her glorious stint as an expat in Amsterdam: you could easily skip those chapters and save time by starting at Chapter 3.

I also felt that she failed on multiple occasions to use plain l
Feb 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was fantastic and so different than our American culture. It’s given me a lot to think about. One more reason to move to Amsterdam!
Jun 02, 2021 rated it liked it
As a preschool educator, I was intrigued by the premise of this book to model and teach healthy, affirming sex-ed to young children, aiding in the development of their autonomy, self-understanding, and sense of their own bodies.

Rough is clearly passionate about this topic and committed to research; I appreciated the PAGES and PAGES of easily referenceable research in the appendix. And integrations of her personal experiences as a mother and member of both American and Dutch social circles, whil
Jun 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I read this one through the lens of being a Health teacher (not a parent) and loved it! I do highly recommend this one for all parents though, and not waiting to read it until they are older, since so much of learning about bodies can and should begin right away. It’s got lots of good information, but is also kind of a memoir with lots of personal anecdotes that keep it engaging.
Apr 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My kids are teenagers, closer to using condoms (yikes!) than diapers, so part of me would like to stick my fingers in my ears and say “Nah-nah-nah, I can’t hear you!” when the topic of teenage sexuality arises, but Bonnie Rough’s smart, funny, and wonderfully accessible book instead makes me want to talk to my kids all the more. What a gift! She doesn’t shy away from complicated topics, and her warmth, candor, and self-effacing tone will make any parent, whatever the age of their children, feel ...more
K.J. Dell'Antonia
Love this book--especially now. Covers everything from straight-talking with toddlers to considering what we want FOR our teens--instead of what we don't want, which is the American way of looking at it. Definitely a good addition to the parenting shelf. ...more
Jan 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I tend to avoid reading parenting books for the super craven reason that I hate to find out that I’ve been doing things wrong this whole time. Classy, right? But I truly want to do better, better compared to how I’ve been bumping along so far and better compared to my own parents. Guess how many times my parents talked to me about sex? Zero. Yeah. Super. But since I was super reader as well as super sneaky, I ended up more or less okay. But I don’t want my poor kids learning about sex from the b ...more
May 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Part memoir, part essay on best practices in sex education (and a range of related topics such as body-positivity and cross-gender friendships), this book covers the author’s experiences raising two girls in Minneapolis, Amsterdam, and Seattle, and her research and reflections on the virtues of the more open Dutch approach to all things sex and gender related. Much of the material focuses on the differences between Dutch and American culture, and how she feels that her family has benefited from ...more
Jan 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If you have kids or grandkids or are an adult role model in a kid’s life, read this! It takes the “birds and the bees” into the 21st century and adds messages of equality, inclusion, and empowerment that truly are the foundations to a healthy sexuality. Learned a lot of great tactics to apply when talking with my daughter about her body, sex, and relationships. Part of me was saddened by two things: 1) was it already too late? At age 6, had my daughter already absorbed so many messages of inferi ...more
Jan 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Highly recommend this book for parents of young children (or any age; don’t assume that your toddler is too young for you to think about sex ed). Rough delivers a highly readable, well researched, and wonderfully positive and inspiring book. She absolutely changed my perception of and approach to addressing bodies & sexuality in our household of three young kids. Sure, our kids knew the proper names for body parts and were never shamed for nudity. Sure, I knew that I wanted their sex ed to be mo ...more
Leigh Ann
May 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is about the author's personal journey towards self-discovery, cultural exploration, and parents' and children's navigation of taboo and knowledge, relationships, and identity. Rough brings up many valid points and research, all of which are important to fostering critical thinking and analysis, as well as implementation of theory and practice.

As a Deaf reader, I found one hiccup, of which I made the author aware. (She responded swiftly and positively to having this pointed out, but I am i
Apr 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I could not put this book down.

Beyond Birds and Bees compares the way kids in the US learn (and don’t learn) about sex and gender compared to their peers in the Netherlands. Using her own experiences growing up and raising kids, as well as scientific data, Rough brilliantly persuades the reader of the benefits of embracing an openness about gender and sexuality with our children. She ties gender inequality to the shame girls and women feel about their bodies, and shows the reader the way out is
Kevin Patrick
Feb 22, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book contrasting the Dutch sex ed experience with the US. Huge takeaways are that children should be free to explore their bodies from the moment they’re born, children should be educated on everything from puberty changes to healthy relationships from a very early age, and frankly, that the US is painfully and agonizingly dragging behind.

As a sex ed teacher, I’ve experienced the constant walking on egg shells. With that, I do think the author was slightly too harsh on US sex educators
Sep 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing

Really awesome. I loved her honesty and openness throughout the book with her own misunderstandings and confusions and struggles and her quest to find the best solutions that work for her and her family. Her research was narrow in the sense that it really only offered stark comparisons between the Dutch and the American perspective on sexuality and how (and when) to educate children on the topic, but it was also broad in that she took info from American and Dutch experts as well as Americ
Catelyn Silapachai
Apr 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I have a newborn and started this book partly as a way of processing my own upbringing / partly to prepare for my daughter's future. I had the sense that I was reading a book like this way too early (my daughter is 6 months) but was very surprised to find that much of the book relates to very very young children. To paraphrase the author, if you wait to talk about bodies and sex with your children until they're teenagers, it's almost too late. The conversations about body-positive messaging and ...more
May 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
i had to read this book for my gender studies class about how the u.s can learn and improve from the netherlands, and i ended up doing my term project over how the u.s can provide better comprehensive sexuality education and this book was super helpful! even if i hadn’t used it for class, i would have probably picked it up and still read it because i love reading anything having to do with gender studies. i also already strongly believed in bettering sex ed in the u.s and this book expressed so ...more
Jan 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Provocative? Absolutely. Uncomfortable? At times. While I never had a pearl clutching moment there were definitely sections that made me have to stop and a take a deep breath. This book systematically examines comprehensive sexuality education and offers great resources for further exploration on topics that make many parents skittish. I loved the author’s inclusion of autonomy and consent, as well as access to information and normalization.
Britta Barrett
Feb 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a quietly radical book that has lessons for all people, including folks like me who intend to remain child-free, about how we build a more open and egalitarian society. If you're interested in gender parity, strategies for uncoupling shame from sexuality, and evidence-based practices for improving health outcomes for all, it's worth reading. ...more
Dorothy Greco
Sep 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
I wish I had this book and this perspective 25 years ago when I was raising my sons. While I don't agree with all of her conclusions (I would not feel comfortable encouraging teens to have sex), I think she's onto something. Americans are both obsessed with sex and ashamed to talk about it. This leads to a huge information gap for our kids which does not serve them. ...more
Jeremy Hornik
Oct 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Well-researched and fervent book in support of better sex ed in America, from the way we talk to toddlers to adults allowing teen sleepovers (with sex). The Dutch approach is put forth as a model. Arguments are well structured, and the tone is very humble and down-to-earth, not preachy or yelly. Worth a few hours of your time, parents.
Nov 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic, thought-provoking read I recommend to all parents of young children. This is a difficult topic and we all have so many hang-ups, but we owe it to our kids to figure out a better way -- reading this book is an important first step. I'm planning to read it again and have shared it with my husband, who is also getting a lot out of it. ...more
Nov 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is probably one of my favorite books this year. I was expecting a how-to guide instead I found one woman’s journey trying to figure out what to teach and tell her daughters in our restrictive American society. There plenty of tips and ideas, cute and sad stories, and yes, important facts. I highly recommend giving it a read.
Karli Sherwinter
Dec 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this comparison of the Dutch approach to sex education versus the puritanical American approach. This is an important book for parents, policy makers, and anyone who cares about how young people learn about their bodies and their emerging sexuality. The author’s website has several recommended resources (books and websites) for kids and adults.
Jun 04, 2021 rated it really liked it
Required reading for American parents. Bonnie Rough explores how gender culture weaves (insidiously) to identity and self awareness, creating a warped tapestry of dysfunctional understanding ourselves as sexual beings. Her open, non-taboo discussions with her children and her raw examination of her own hangups are delightful, essential threads.

Thank you Deb for this stellar recommendation.
Feb 21, 2019 rated it it was ok
A lot of repetition and anecdotes to say, talk about sex with your kids in a open and unassuming way. Not a lot of substance. This also can be filed away as preaching to the choir. Someone who seeks out to Read this book most likely is of the same opinion. Imho.
Aug 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I wish I could give 10 stars!! Every parents, parents to be, well actually everyone should read this book. It’s full of great information about sexuality and bodies. I love to empower my children and I know this book will definitely help me.
Aug 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Great book if you’re an educator or a parent/caregiver. I’d recommend reading before you have a kid, it’s a great conversation piece for you and your partner(s) about how you want to address topics kids bring up!
Raya Sun
Apr 02, 2021 rated it really liked it
Great resources included for how to raise children without body shame. Consent, equality, LGBT considerations, STI, teen pregnancy and more topics included. "Sexuality unfolds over a lifetime and deserves ongoing care." ...more
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BONNIE J. ROUGH is the author of Beyond Birds & Bees: Bringing Home a New Message to Our Kids About Sex, Love, and Equality, forthcoming from Seal Press/Hachette at back-to-school 2018. Her previous books include The Girls, Alone: Six Days in Estonia, selected by Amazon as one of the Best Kindle Singles of 2015, and the memoir Carrier: Untangling the Danger in My DNA (Counterpoint), winner of a 20 ...more

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