As a Theology major, I had the joy of taking classes focused on reading and studying John Paul II’s Theology of the Body at Christendom College. Approaching sexual education as a Catholic parent can be a daunting task. Here are some of my favorite resources to help you introduce sexual morality and education to your children in light of Theology of the Body.
From introducing basic concepts about human dignity, the body as a gift, and the value of life to tricky questions about contraceptive mentality and transgenderism, these books have answers! Feel educated and empowered to prepare your child to face questions of sexual morality in this fallen world!
Books for Parents to Read with Kids
Angel in the Waters is a lovely story about an unborn baby’s experience in the womb and experiencing the world for the first time. A great introduction to fetal development and sanctity of life for very little ones.
God Made All of Me is a well-done and age-appropriate approach to teaching children basic body safety. It focuses on the inherent goodness of the body, appropriate and inappropriate ways of touching the body, and how to ask for help if someone makes you uncomfortable. We read this with our children starting around age 3.
***Warning: the first two pages, before the story proper begins, are a list of sexual assault statistics that could disturb young readers. Cutting or gluing together these pages easily solves this problem.
Good Pictures Bad Pictures Jr. sets up your sons (and daughters) to understand and avoid the dangers of pornography. Without becoming inappropriately graphic in the least, this phenomenal picture book introduces the concept that some pictures and videos are bad. It helps your children learn an action plan involving telling a parent if they are ever exposed to pornography. We use this beginning at age 5.
Good Pictures Bad Pictures is a more advanced porn-proofing book aimed at 8-12 year olds. This book is intended for parent and child to use and discuss together. It includes a story, discussion questions, and strategies to deal with potential porn exposure.
Wonderfully Made! Babies is an absolutely awesome Theology of the Body based approach to teaching exactly where babies come from and why. The why is so important! This book uses medically correct language to explain biological differences and sex, but also dives into why God designed sex to be so good, why marriage is a necessity, and why babies are amazing!
Books for Parents about Talking with Kids about Sex
Beyond the Birds and the Bees is a Catholic psychologist’s advice on what to say to your kids and when! The book is handily divided into chapters by age so it can easily be referenced over the years for age-appropriate discussion topics and information.
Made This Way is probably my favorite book on this list. Leila Miller and Trent Horn take a brilliant natural-law-heavy approach in this book. As a mom and grandma, Leila recognizes that teens in our culture need more than simple do’s and don’t’s when it comes to sexual ethics. So in this book, she provides:
1. The Church’s teaching on a moral issue such as homosexuality, transgenderism, pornography, contraception, divorce, etc.
2. Discussion points from the natural law to use in forming younger children on the topic.
3. Natural law, common sense, and research-based explanations for teens on the why of each issue.
Books about Sexual Morality and Theology of the Body for Adults
Three to Get Married by Fulton Sheen is my favorite book to give to newly engaged or married couples. With his typical clarity, Sheen explains God’s irreplaceable role in marriage. A thought-provoking book on the meaning and beauty of marriage, children, and human love.
Man, Woman, and the Meaning of Love and other titles by Dietrich Von Hildebrand are a great option if you are looking for a more succinct yet still highly insightful and philosophical look at God’s plan for marriage and love.
Alice Von Hildebrand, like her husband, wrote brilliant and eloquent books about marriage, sexuality, and human nature. In Man & Woman: A Divine Invention, Von Hildebrand explores the intrinsic complimentary of men and women, God’s design for them, and how sin destroyed this perfect harmony.
Going to the source is best! If you are looking for a challenging and life-changing book to read, consider undertaking St. John Paul II’s masterwork Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body.
Not quite ready to take on the nearly 800 pages of Man and Woman He Created Them? Try Love and Responsibility, St. John Paul II’s precursor which contains many of the same themes about understanding the human person as a whole in a more manageable length book.
William May is a respected moral theologian with a plethora of interesting works on marriage and life ethics. Marriage The Rock On Which The Family Is Built is his explanation of the importance of marriage and family in the context of society. He draws on the writings of Paul VI, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI.
With his customary brilliance, Fr. Michael Schmitz takes on the tricky question of navigating same-sex attraction in yourself or someone close to you. Made for Love is a concise, thorough guide to the correct Catholic response to homosexuality.
Edith Stein’s life is the stuff of a fascinating drama. Her journey from being Jewish to atheist to Catholic is captivating enough, but this great saint had a formidable intellect and was a respected writer. And she also became a nun. And also died in a Nazi death camp. Her writings are a great resource if you want to explore the nature and vocation of women in depth with your daughters.
Programs to Teach Theology of the Body to Kids and Teens
Ruah Woods Press offers a comprehensive K-12 Theology of the Body program. I appreciate the literature-based approach in the lower levels.
TOBET provides a great assortment of books geared for K-12 that reinforce the basic concepts of Theology of the Body such as: the goodness of the body, the purpose of the body, male and female differences, etc.
Ascension Press has a DVD/parental discussion guide/student workbook combination package to introduce Theology of the Body to teens. They have a special edition just for middle schoolers also.
Looking for more great books? Check out my book lists!
4 thoughts on “Great Books about Sexual Education and Theology of the Body for Catholic Parents”
Thanks so much for such a complete list! We (my daughter & I) loved Wonderfully Made! Babies. Such a beautiful, gentle introduction to the subject for young ones. My daughter really treasures that book and will occasionally pull it off the shelf and reread it some herself, thought it has been a few years since I first read it to her. And when she has any questions of this nature, she always refers back to this book in conversation. So glad it’s the book we went with!
On a different note. I just recently found your blog and lists and I couldn’t be happier! My husband and I were recent converts to Catholicism from deep within the neo-pagan community shortly before our daughter was born 10 years ago. I knew how very much early exposure to occult elements in literature & film had warped my imagination and helped lead me down the terrible path of choices I had made for over a decade. And I knew I would have to do things much differently for our daughter than were done for me but I really had no idea how I would do that. My worldview at the time after shortly converting wasn’t solidly Catholic, I knew I had major blind spots, but I didn’t really know what they were. I was graced to somehow stumble upon A Landscape with Dragons by Michael 0’Brien. I resonated so deeply with me that I knew this would be our handbook for navigating the new waters we would be treading. And it has been for this last decade! I was thrilled to find someone who has is also looking at literature through this lens! And better yet reading and doing reviews! I ask you…. okay maybe even beg you… please keep at this work! It is such a boon to our family! And now when I recommend the book to others, as I’m known to do, your site will be mentioned right along. So this is me puttin’ in a bit of a request ; ) I would really love to see you continue reviewing some of the YA and fantasy reads! Our family loves fantasy but it is so hard to wade through the junk, mostly we just wind up not bothering with these two categories, so your reviews have been helpful there! I hope for more help! Thanks so much for all you are doing! May God richly bless you and your work!
Thank you for your words of encouragement! As you figured out, “A Landscape with Dragons” was extremely formative for me also in determining my literary perspective. I feel strongly called to review YA books since it’s at that age many parents stop pre-reading books. God willing, you can look forward to many more reviews of YA books and fantasy selections on my blog!
Whoot Whoot! That’s great to hear! Hope you are having a beautiful week!
Have you used any of the Ruah Woods products? I’m curious if there’s a way to have a homeschool “book club” with literature that weaves in some Catholic discussion. The Ruah Woods guides seem to do that with regard to TOB. But I’m wondering if there’s a better way to do it…