Book Review: A European book for tweens about puberty and love, sex, relationships & growing up.
A short overview of this book
Does This Happen to Everyone by Jan Von Holleben and Antje Helms is a book that answers questions tweens have about puberty, love, sex and relationships.
This is a German book that was originally published with support from the Berlin Family Planning Centre – Balance. It was translated to an English audience in 2014.
I am a huge fan of European sex education books as they are very open-minded and very frank ie the get straight to the point and give you the facts. And I really like this book. So much that I think it will become one of the books that I always recommend to parents.
This book is basically a question and answer book, with detailed answers to 70 of the most common questions that tweens ask about growing up. I run a Youtube channel for tweens, Puberty Talk, where I answer their questions about puberty, and the questions that I am asked are very similar to what I see in this book. Today’s tweens are exposed to a lot of information about sex, and this book satisfies their curiosity by providing them with honest age-appropriate answers.
So it talks about topics like porn, falling in love, having sex, like a boy or a girl (or both), having a boy or girlfriend, condoms, contraception, pregnancy, birthing, masturbation and much more. It also covers all the usual stuff that you would expect in a puberty book ie the physical changes that happen as well as periods, wet dreams, erections, pimples, bras, etc.
So if you’re looking for a puberty book that also talks about love, sex and relationships (without giving kids too much information), then this is the book to grab!
What’s the ideal age for this book?
Does This Happen to Everyone by Jan Von Holleben and Antje Helms is ideal for children from the ages of 11 and older.
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Where can you buy a copy of this book?
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You can find more books like this in my extensive list of Sex Education Books for Children.
Have a look through the book
Read the transcription of the video
This is a really good book that discusses puberty, sex, and relationships in an age-appropriate way.
Hi, I am Cath Hak from Sex Ed Rescue. Sex Ed Rescue is that channel where I talk about everything to do with sex education, especially reviewing books. This book, Does This Happen to Everyone? By Jan Von Holleben and Antje Helms is a fantastic example that I love.
I have no idea how I found this book, but I am so glad that I did. Originally, it was a German book before being translated into English. For some reason, European books are so good. German people can just write in a blunt and honest way while remaining child-friendly and easy to understand. They are not scared to be honest.
Contributions to this book were made by a family planning company in Germany. This company has been providing sex education to teenagers and tweens for a long time. That means that the information in this book is based off reality.
On my tween channel, where I answer questions about puberty, I receive a lot of questions answered in this book. As this book is in a Q & A style, it can answer them efficiently and easily.
Now, Does This Happen to Everyone? Is made by a photographer and an author. Jan Von Holleben is the photographer for this book while Antje Helms is the author. Obviously, there was also someone who translated the book.
One of the main things that I love is the beautiful imagery. The photographs have a very diverse range of models. There are not any brands, like Nike, in it and it is the sort of imagery that will not go out of date anytime soon.
I am looking at one photo about the differences between having a female body and a male body, and it is very creative. There aren’t any naked body parts or images that will ‘scar’ your child; it is completely child friendly and easy to understand.
Just by looking at these images, you can tell so much thought and effort has gone into them. Holleben and Helms got together and ensured that the photos and the writing matched. They make sense together. This makes the book beautiful and unique compared to others you might find.
It is the kind of book I would have loved to write myself.
At the start of the book, we can see the photos of all the tweens who asked questions for this book. Just looking at their portraits, you can tell they are tweens. There are not any adults, children, elders, or even teenagers. These are questions that tweens want answers to.
What does this book talk about? This book answers a heap of questions about puberty and growing up. Some of these questions are ones like; what do breasts look like on the inside? What else have we got? What can I do about my spots? Why do girls have breasts, but boys do not?
This book does also talk about gender. However, as it was written in 2014, it does have much simpler language than more modern books. Books published more recently might not talk about boys and girls; they talk about ‘People with ovaries’ and ‘People who make sperm.’ I do think it is important to be simple.
Next, the book talks about relationships. Things like crushes, falling in love, and a lovely section about boys and girls. In the photo for this section, we can see boys in more feminine clothing and girls in more masculine clothing. I love this sort of thing since it shows a bit of humor and attitude towards the reader. Which, I think is fantastic.
Finding a book that talks about sexual fantasies, feelings, and dating is hard. But, this book answers them head on. Tweens, as they are going through puberty, do not want to only know about what is going on in their body. They want to know what is going on in their head, why they are feeling different, and why they are attracted to other people. Tweens do not understand these feelings. All these things are talked about in this book.
There are more answers to questions like, ‘How do you find the right girl for you?’ along with another chapter about boys, and ‘Is it true that a boy acts all weird if he likes a girl?’ While it is true this book has assumptions about the readers’ sexuality, there is same-sex attraction covered in it.
As I said, a family planning clinic was involved with contributing information to this book. Often, family planning clinics are very up to date with same-sex relationships since they deal with those topics daily.
Now, the book continues to talk about love. It answers questions about what to do with romance, how to react to feelings, or even how to tell if you have a crush on someone.
Finally, we get up to the questions about kissing and sex. Some of the questions include ones like, ‘How do you kiss?’ ‘How old do you have to be to start kissing?’ and ‘What is sex?’
Something else I love about this book is the description of sex. As the book reads, ‘We’re not wild turkeys, head lice, or Brahminy blind snakes. They can all reproduce without partners but if humans don’t have sex with each other, there’ll be none of us left.’
I think the way they explain sex and why people do it is so funny and age-appropriate.
The book answers plenty of questions about sex and kissing. From how long sex lasts, to practising safe sex, and even whether parents can stop you from having sex. All the while, there are plenty of funny and fitting images for each page.
There is this one photo with kids blowing up condoms. However, next to them there is also chocolates and lollies laying around which makes it more lighthearted.
One of the questions even asks if kids can watch porn online or on their phone. Which, the book gives a nice answer by explaining why it is not good to watch porn.
Does This Happen to Everyone talks about a whole range of topics. About what makes someone gay, STIs, and why men cannot have babies. It even answers all the normal questions like if it hurts to put a tampon in or why boys’ voices break.
Overall, this book is very comprehensive and easy to use. I love it. I have a list of books that I suggest to parents and I feel like this one is going to be added to that list very soon.
That is because of not only the beautiful photos, but the fact this book talks about love, sex, and relationships in a very positive way. I am a parent, and even I struggle to explain some stuff to my children. Having a book like this you can give them is much easier for the both of you.
There is also this underlying idea that puberty is not scary. We all grow up. Going through puberty can be overwhelming at times, but everything will be fine. It is a message I think is fantastic.
Even the cover of this book is entertaining and eye-catching. There is one kid with a grass beard and moustache, and another with flowers for ‘boobs.’
Does This Happen to Everyone? Is my new favourite puberty book. It is not often that I get this excited over a book, so I recommend it to other parents. If you have a child going through puberty, this is a book you need on your shelf.
Alright, I hope this helped. Cheers.