The Secret Business of Relationships, Love and Sex by Heather Anderson, Fay Angelo and Rose Stewart is what I would call a ‘first book’ for tweens and teens on how to have respectful relationships. It talks about sex but it also talks about all the other parts that make up healthy and safe relationships.
The Secret Business of Relationships, Love and Sex by Heather Anderson, Fay Angelo and Rose Stewart was first published in 2015, so it is very recent and relevant in regards to the new risks that teens face. In our day, it was HIV or AIDS, STIs (sexually transmitted infections), alcohol and unplanned pregnancy. Today we can add in a few new risks such as drugs, online porn, sexting, bullying and the online world.
The authors come from a very hands-on background. Fay comes from a teaching background, Heather is a Sexual Health Nurse/ Sex Educator and Rose is a teacher and School Psychologist. So they are dealing with this tweens & teens and sex everyday.
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The authors have 3 earlier books. One for boys, Secret Boy’s Business, and one for younger girls, Secret Girl’s Business. They have then published More Secret Girls’ Business which is for older girls.
These earlier books mainly focus on puberty and are gender specific. What I love about them is that they don’t talk about sex within these books. A lot of puberty books talk about everything, trying to squeeze all the information that a child could possibly want to know, into the one book. This is great in theory, as you only have to buy the one book. In reality though, this is problematic as it includes information that most kids just aren’t ready for. So it is good to have all the sexual content that tweens and teens need to know about added into another book, like The Secret Business of Relationships, Love and Sex.
So giving a book to a 11 year old that talks about oral sex, or anal sex or orgies and stuff just isn’t appropriate because they’re just not interested in that stuff (yet). If anything, it is going to scare them and give them the wrong messages about sex. So you want to sort of hold off with giving them too much detail and information about sex until they are a little bit older.
Once kids start to progress through puberty and the sex hormones have started to kick in all, it is only then, that they then begin to show an interest in sex. It is only now, that they finally start to see sex as something that they may actually want to do (whereas before they just saw it as textbook material/behaviour). And this happens because of the sex hormones that change the way that we think and feel about sex.
So what’s inside this book?
The Secret Business of Relationships, Love and Sex is much bigger than the earlier puberty books with about 130 pages What I love about these books is that it is not like reading a novel which is all words. Give a novel to a 12 year old with all small words and they most probably won’t read it. This book is different in that it has lots of images, and the words are broken up into readable sections very nicely. And despite the sexual content (eg masturbation) the images are not explicit or offensive (or scary!).
The book, The Secret Business of Relationships, Love and Sex, covers a lot of territory! In regards to relationships, it talks about what makes up a healthy friendships, Romantic feelings, sexual diversity, gender identity, emotional and physical safety.
The Secret Business of Relationships, Love and Sex also talks about:
I think that The Secret Business of Relationships, Love and Sex is ideal as a first sex book that kids should have because it isn’t a sex manual, like many other books for teens. As a parent, we are often reluctant to provide our kids with too much information about sex. I see this book as a halfway point as it talks about the important stuff but it doesn’t provide them with information about everything to do with sex! They can read those books when they are 14 or 15 or 16 (depending on their maturity and level of interest).
You can watch my video review of The Secret Business of Relationships, Love and Sex below.
There are a lot more sex education/puberty books out there, that talk about a range of other topics.
You can find them listed in this new FREE parent resource: Sex Education Books for Children: a Parent Guide.
Make sure you go and check it out. It includes a lot of sex education books that will make talking about sex (and other tricky topics), a whole lot easier!
And before you choose a sex education book, like The Secret Business of Relationships, Love and Sex by Heather Anderson, Fay Angelo and Rose Stewart, you want to make sure that it is the right book for you and your child! There are a lot of books out there and what is right for me may not necessarily be the right book for you!
I think that The Secret Business of Relationships, Love and Sex is a great book, a book that all tweens and early teens should have. It is a good first book on sex for this age group as it provides the information in a very age-appropriate and non-judgemental way.
I'm Cath, a sex educator living in Australia with my husband and 2 kids. I help parents to talk about sex (with less cringe and more confidence) and to empower their child to make smart sexual decisions. You can join my online parent support group here and visit my shop for helpful resources.