Kansas mom finds joy-of-sex book for kids in her public library, which refuses to move it from children’s section

Addie Thompson and her 4-year-old son were scanning their local public library’s children’s section for a book on airplanes. What the young mother found on the shelf right above it was more akin to The Joy of Sex manual for kids.

What she picked up at the Iola, Kansas library was the children’s book Sex is a Funny Word – a picture book with descriptions of the penis, vulva, clitoris and more, as well as graphic hand-drawn illustrations of male and female body parts, along with odes to the joy they can bring even young children.

“Learning about sex is kind of like visiting a carnival or a fair,” one character in the book says amid drawings of carnival fun.

“It can be fun and strange and sometimes a little scary,” adds another.

“You can never do it all in one day,” adds another.

“Come on, let’s go exploring,” exhorts another happy carnival-goer.

The book, Thompson says, inappropriately sells the joys of sex to 8-to-10-year-olds, which she says is bad enough. But it notably mentions none of the potential risks and regrets. Nor does it ever mention celibacy, marriage, self-control or sexually transmitted diseases – or that sexual abuse can come at the hands of people you trusted.

“That was one of the issues that I had with the book,” Thompson told The Lion.

But it’s only one of many issues she has with it. The book, she notes, includes a character “actively touching herself while she is in the bath”; extremely detailed drawings of nipples, anuses, vaginas, and penises; how sensitive nipples and anuses can feel good to the touch; and how touching private parts can “feel warm and tingly.”

“Do you know what is in your public library? I thought that I did. What I had read absolutely flabbergasted and upset me,” Thompson wrote in a Sept. 27 op-ed published by the Anderson County Review. “This book was aimed at young children between the ages of 8 years old and 10 years old … and intended to teach them about sex and sex-related activities. It had vibrant drawings of penises, vaginas, breasts, and anuses …”

“I could not, nor would ever, advocate for any publication to be banned,” she wrote, calling herself a free-speech absolutist. But neither the librarians nor the library board would move the book from the children’s to the young-adult or adult sections – which was all Thompson asked of them.

A reluctant first-time activist, all she can do now is prevail upon fellow residents and parents to look at such books for themselves and take up the cause of fighting age-inappropriate and sexually graphic materials for young children in libraries. To that end, she and her husband may resort to taking copies of her op-ed around to local churches.

They’ve been hampered in getting the word out by the fact that her own town’s newspaper refused to publish her article, telling her “they were not going to make my issue into a public issue.

“This is very much a public issue,” Thompson wrote, citing taxpayer funding of public libraries, as well as parents’ rights.

“Your choosing to keep this book in the children’s section, you are violating my rights as a parent,” Thompson tells The Lion. “You’re not asking me to come and read the stuff to potentially give it to my children. You are sidestepping my right as a parent and heading straight for [my children].

“My kid was looking for an airplane book, for crying out loud. And [Sex is a Funny Word] was on the shelf right above it. So, that’s sidestepping my right as a parent to monitor what my kid is putting into his head.

“You’re pretty much telling an 8-year-old who still watches Paw Patrol that, ‘Hey, touch these areas of your body and it’ll feel good.’ Kids that age don’t think about sex – unless they’re already exposed to it. Why would you want to expose them to it at that young of an age?”

It took a lot of angst-filled thought to speak out about this publicly, she said.

“Your morals and principles – the ones that are very important – they have to be inflexible. I’m not going to be silent about this. I’m not going to be quiet about it. This is wrong.”