Tell Me: What Children Really Want to Know about Bodies, Sex, and Emotions

ISBN 9781776572328

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Written by Katharina von der Gathen and illustrated by Anke Kuhl.  Translated by Shelley Tanaka.

Tell me is a book for children that 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, say the experts.  And exactly what do children want to know?  Ask them!

This book collects real questions asked by children in classes about the human body, love, and sexuality.  The answers are both direct and warmhearted, giving children the information they really want to know in a form they can relate to.  This is a book for both boys and girls that is relevant to today's conversations about sexuality.  It brings humor and lightness to help families comfortably approach this topic that many find awkward.

Recommended for ages 8-12 years old.

Hardcover, 208 pages.  19.05 x 2.54 x 14.22 cm

Gecko Press.


"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."―Kirkus Reviews 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)." ~ Ako 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."  ~Travis Jonkers, School Library Journal

"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." ~ The Sapling 

"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." ~ Julie Danielson, Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast

About the Author

Katharina von der Gathen lives in Bonn, Germany. She is an experienced sexuality educator, working with children and adolescents.

Anke Kuhl, born in 1970, is one of Germany's leading children’s book illustrators, whose awards include the German Youth Literature Award. She lives in Frankfurt.