Written by Peter Mayle, illustrated by Arthur Robbins and Paul Walter. First published 1973.
This classic children's book explains sex, bodies and babies for children. It is still in print as of 2017, in editions with either black or white people in the illustrations. Like many popular parenting books, this one is passed around, bought at second hand stalls, and left lying around in helpfully obvious places.
Aimed at the under-10s, the book answers common questions such as "why do boys and girls look different?" and "what is that bit for?" and "how do you get babies?" The illustrations feature lots of comfortably chubby naked people, portrayed in a non-sexual way, probably aiming to look kind of like the average 'old person' in a child's life.
This book is very matter-of-fact and does a great job of explaining things in a way that will make sense to a five-year-old, giving them the answers they need without either lying to them, or going into lots of unnecessary detail. For example, there is a series of drawings showing what a baby looks like month by month from conception to birth. A lot of children love this part, because of course they can relate it to their own development and that of any younger siblings.
Mayle describes sex as giving you a nice tickly feeling, and an orgasm as being like a very nice sneeze. With the cheerful illustrations, and fairly gentle, positive language, kids will go away with a vague but accurate idea of what sex is, and an impression that it's a fun activity for grownups.
Sex education is a contentious issue. Some parents being horrified at the idea of children under 10 knowing what sex is, what their body parts are called and what their body parts are used for. Personally, I'm in favour of children knowing about their own body, having their questions answered, and having at least some idea of how human beings reproduce. I am also in favour of children trusting their parent or carer to give them a straight answer. This is a book that can help parents through those conversations during the early years: ensuring their basic information is correct, that they have covered all the essentials, and have a handy set of pictures that you can refer to when a child asks, "What does that look like?"
The one downside of 'Where Did I Come From?' is that it is exclusively about straight cisgendered people conceiving and giving birth naturally. This doesn't take away from the excellence of the book, but it does mean that many families will have to look elsewhere for information describing their own experience. In particular, children delivered by caesarian or conceived through IVF are not going to find their own story in this book.