What Makes a Baby

Silverberg, Cory (Author) and Fiona Smyth (Illustrator). What Makes a Baby. New York: Seven Stories Press, 2012.

A brightly-colored illustration of various families walking in a park. Text reads: "Who was happy that it was YOU who grew?"

With the tagline “A book for every kind of family and every kind of kid,” What Makes a Baby is indeed the most inclusive children’s book about reproduction that I’ve ever read. Intended to be read by grownups to children, this book provides an age-appropriate approach to basic details about reproduction and plenty of opportunities for personal sharing about a child’s own story.

There are no details about sexual intercourse, donor insemination, surrogacy, adoption, or any other method of acquiring a baby. Instead, colorful pictures and accessible text describe how egg and sperm meet and grow into a baby inside a uterus. These body parts are not gendered and there are no assumptions about methods or relationships.

The art is superb, with fantastical depictions of sperms and eggs full of “stories about the body they came from.” There are also lots of illustrations of grownups, children, and babies. The people are brightly colored (blue, purple, red, etc.) and are clearly diverse in terms of ethnicity and disability.

Silverberg developed a free reader’s guide to help parents talk to children about reproduction in general and their unique story in particular.

I recommend this book to all parents and guardians of children preschool age to about 8.

About Charlie McNabb

Archivist, Folklorist, and Legend Tripper
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