Knowledge about the body can empower a child with vocabulary that protects their safety. Conversations at home can also provide the foundation for a healthy body image and sexuality. However, the topic can be intimidating for parents, especially if we are colored by awkward memories with our own parents! Books can be a helpful guide, and the 我宝贵的身体 性教育绘本 (My Precious Body) set of 3 Chinese books is a great starting point for toddlers, preschoolers, and elementary-aged children.
Why children should learn about their body, including real genital names
As a child of conservative Chinese immigrants, sex education was avoided like the plague in my home.
When I was 7 years old, I came across an encyclopedia in my house with full-page illustrations about intercourse and brought the book to my parents with naive questions.
My parents panicked, cut and threw out the pages, and told me that babies come from Santa Claus! Mind you, I already knew that Santa Claus was not real, and unfortunately, it was one of many discussions that created a barrier from trust in our relationship.
Eventually, I heard about the “birds and the bees” from my friends and the function of “private parts” at a grade-wide lecture in 5th grade. My friends and I were shushed by teachers when we giggled and snickered as the topic was filled with shame and embarrassment.
Eventually in medical school, I learned that the topic should be introduced honestly and respectfully, even with young children.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics:
In early childhood, parents can teach their children the name of the genitals, just as they teach their child names of other body parts. This teaches that the genitals, while private, are not so private that you can’t talk about them.
Please read the articles at the end of this post for further reference.
Important vocabulary about genitalia in Chinese and English
The following are common terms for external male and female genitalia, listed in alphabetical order. General terms for the lower body, private part, genitalia include 下体 (xiàtǐ), 下身 (xiàshēn), and 私处 /私處 (sīchù).
- Anus: 肛门 / 肛門 (Gāngmén)
- Breast: 奶子 (Nǎizi)
- Buttocks: 屁股 (Pìgu)
- Nipple: 乳头 / 乳頭 (Rǔtóu)
- Penis: 阴茎 / 陰莖(Yīnjīng)
- Perineum: 會陰部 (Huì yīnbù)
- Scrotum: 阴囊 / 陰囊 (yīn náng)
- Vulva: 阴户 / 陰戶(Yīnhù), 外阴 / 外陰(Wàiyīn), 阴门 / 陰門(Yīnmén)
- Vagina: 阴道 / 陰道(Yīndào)
Casually, a female’s private part can be referred to as 小妹妹 (xiǎo mèimei / little sister) and male’s as 小弟弟 (xiǎo dìdì / little brother).
You can find more translations on Chinese-Tools.com.
我宝贵的身体 性教育绘本 (My Precious Body) Set of 3 Chinese Books
- 作者 (Author): 郑智泳 & 郑惠泳 (Korean)
- Translator: 黄仙
- Where to buy:
- Where to listen – Ximalaya (click on the below titles)
Review of 我宝贵的身体 性教育绘本 (My Precious Body)
Originally written in Korean and translated to Chinese, the 我宝贵的身体 books talk about where babies come from, the differences between boys and girls, and how to protect our bodies.
The dialogue is gentle, relevant, conversational, and not too clinical for young children.
Meanwhile, the illustrations are anatomically correct, proportional, and educational: a boy’s penis and scrotum are shown, as are a girl’s breasts and genital hair.
The realistic images are necessary so that children understand that this is regular life and not a cartoon or fairy tale.
Seeing a father, mother, brother, and sister in these books also helps to normalize the topic for one’s own family.
In the first book, 我的弟弟出生了, the mom is pregnant, and the girl wonders how her brother got inside her belly. The illustrations show dad helping out with dishes and bathing the baby and how the baby grows in the uterus.
One image that might be graphic for some families consists of parents lying together, embraced and unclothed, with a drawing of sperm and egg. However, the actual act of intercourse is not actually shown.
Later, a glimpse of the delivery room is shown with the baby’s head emerging, but details are not visible.
Of these 3 books, my husband prefers that I wait to introduce this particular book, but I would be comfortable showing it to our children (2-year-old boy and 5-year-old girl).
The second book, 我是女孩，我弟弟是男孩, the differences between boys and girls are discussed and illustrated. Illustrative examples include urination and gradual body changes (eg, puberty).
My daughter seemed to find the timeline to be enlightening, because she could see the differences between her body and mine, and her little brother’s and her father’s.
Please note that I have covered the boy’s genitals with a star, but it is actually shown in the books. I apologize for not showing the other images.
Knowing that even breastfeeding makes people uncomfortable, I’m not sure if the other images would cause problems for this website. Speaking of breastfeeding, I’m happy that it’s featured in this book!
The last book of the series, 我宝贵的身体, encourages children to be proud of their own bodies and teaches them to protect themselves.
The book emphasizes that kids should say “我不愿意 (Wǒ bù yuànyì / I do not want to)” and to refuse others from touching their body.
One drawback of the 我宝贵的身体 series
Although I have had no trouble talking about the topic with my patients, somehow the idea was more daunting as a parent. Not to mention that since my kids and I speak together in both Chinese and English, the conversation is doubled!
Since we live in a English-predominant community, I believe that it’s important to learn body names in English for safety purposes. If my children were in an unfortunate situation, they need to communicate these details in English. However, they have also learned their private part names in Chinese so that they can understand this bilingually.
The main drawback of these books is that nicknames are used instead of the correct names (eg, 小鸡 for penis). When I asked my auntie how to say “penis” in Chinese, she confirmed that it’s called 小鸡！So I told my son that it’s called 小鸡…He was confused and said “动物?” And then he looked at himself and said “小鸡动物 Cockadoodledoo!” (LOL! Facepalm!).
However, I later learned from other fluent Chinese persons the proper names of private parts. Without further ado, here are the proper translations for genital area that you can use while reading the books!
In summary, I highly recommend the 我宝贵的身体 性教育绘本 (My Precious Body) set of 3 Chinese books for all families!
Have you talked to your children about their body and conception?
What age was your child and how did the conversation go?
Did you have any awkward experiences with discussing the topic with your own parents?
I’d like to hear about your experience and if you have any tips to share! Please leave a comment with your thoughts on talking about this with kids!
- Call Children’s Private Body Parts What They Are (Psychology Today)
- Tips for Teaching Children About Body Safety (Cincinnati Children’s Hospital)
- What To Call Child’s Genitals? (Aha! Parenting)
- Preventing and Identifying Child Sexual Abuse – Tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
- 8 Reasons NOT To Call Your Child’s Genitals ‘Pet’ Names (Huff Post)
FREE CHINESE AUDIOBOOKS
Ximalaya FM has thousands of Chinese stories, and I highly recommend their free Chinese audiobooks for all kids!
Since the entire website and app is in Chinese, please refer to this guide on How to Use Ximalaya if you cannot read Chinese.
WHERE TO BUY CHINESE BOOKS FOR KIDS
For all book recommendations, please explore our favorite Chinese books for kids!
If you’re wondering where to buy Chinese books for children, please click here for a list of the most popular online bookstores!
HOW TO RAISE MULTILINGUAL CHILDREN
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- 20+ Ways to Get Your Child to Speak Chinese
- How to Find a Foreign Language Teacher for Your Child
- How I Taught My Child 1000+ Chinese Characters as a Non-Fluent Speaker
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