In childhood, we are often fed white lies, cutesy stories and fictional tales to help the world make sense to young minds. I remember being taught that there were five different types of flavour (salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and umami) which could all be tasted on different parts of the tongue. It wasn’t until studying biology aged 16, some ten years later, that I discovered that wasn’t true. It was just the easiest way to explain how we taste things to a five year old.
How I Made You has all the cutesy, pastel drawings and rhythmic rhymes that make for a great children’s book, but with the added bonus of explaining the basics of human reproduction with none of the well-meaning fabrication that normally surrounds discussing complicated subjects with children.
Dropping terms like “chromosome” and “genome” into a heartwarming story of a parent expressing how much they care of a child. A teaching moment for both a child being read to from this book and the parent doing the reading, it lays out the foundations for how we can have honest conversations with our kids about supposedly adult topics. A toddler hearing how they were made from this book can go into science classes as an older child and remember those keywords and perhaps understand them faster and easier.
Using reading time and stories as a springboard to talk about other issues is a great way to ease children into learning about bigger topics. What’s also important, though, is that they enjoy it. The colourful pictures, lyrical rhymes, and loving ending, where the parent affirms their love for the child, tick all of the boxes.
Perhaps this is the start of moving away from white lies and thinking of more creative ways to speak truths to our children at an earlier age.