This is the story of a little boy, Gus, and little girl, Nellie, on a trip to the beach. While there, they talk about their bodies, and the things that are similar and different between males and females.
To begin with, the book talks about how we use our bodies, and I was very impressed (though it saddens me a bit that I should see this as impressive) that these were phrased as similarities. Boys and girls both like to swing, catch frogs, make lots of noise, take their dollies for a walk, run fast, play with stuffed animals, etc. It’s a real acknowledgement that preferences are not indications of sex/gender. More than that, it didn’t seek to give it’s “we can do lots of different things regardless of gender” simply by giving girls permission to do things that are often categorised as boy activities, rather than letting the permissions go both ways.
Next, the book covers the parts of a body that are the same in both males and females, and then expands the comparison to dogs. I thought that was quite neat. The comparison continued on into the listing of sex-specific physical traits, where the little girl is seen changing into her bathing suit with her female dog beside her, and their parts are both labelled, then the same scene for the little boy.
The level of the discussion is totally appropriate for a toddler. It’s not overly detailed, but matter-of-factly labels and describes the visible parts, and then gives an explanation of the internal ones (such as testicles, ovaries, uterus, etc). If parents are squeamish about the proper labelling of sex organs, I think that having a book for them to read out would be very helpful.
There were quite a few other things that I quite liked about the book, such as how it showed a woman breastfeeding, a father bottle-feeding his baby, a mixed-race family, and even a woman wearing a hijab. No explicit attention is drawn to several of these details, but they are there for parents to discuss if they wish (or, at the very least, just serve to counter some of the “normativity” found in so many children’s books).
I really enjoyed reading this book with my son, and I think it’s a great resource for toddlers and preschoolers.
Buy Who Has What?: All About Girls’ Bodies and Boys’ Bodies from Amazon and support this blog!