Dr. Ruth Talks to Kids

Dr. Ruth Talks to Kids - coverDr. Ruth Talks to Kids: Where You Came From, How Your Body Changes, and What Sex Is All About

Submitter: The cover image attached features an endearing but very old lady who looks way too much like my grandma.  I saw this one and laughed because I could just imagine talking to my grandma about condoms, wet dreams, masturbation… (shudder) The details in the book are surprisingly sensitive and well-written, so it was a hard decision to weed it.  Ultimately I weeded it because it’s dated, in both appearance and content.  I’m also enclosing one page from the section on contraception that shows how dated it is. Time to put this grandma out to pasture and make way for all the other beautifully-illustrated books we’ve gotten recently on sex and puberty.

Holly: The image below may or may not be NSFW, depending on your workplace. Dr. Ruth talks very candidly, with pictures, about contraception in that one. Dr. Ruth Westheimer is 88 years old, and while she is still alive, I don’t know that she is still the person kids turn to for answers about sex. (Or is she? I don’t have kids, and I’m not a children’s librarian either. What say you, parents and youth librarians?) She was absolutely groundbreaking, totally approachable and frank and honest. I’m curious to know if Submitter is familiar with Dr. Ruth? The submission is totally true – she looks like a very nice grandma, but I can’t tell if Submitter is aware of who Dr. Ruth is or not. This book was published in 1993, and I am a child of the 1980s, but this image is exactly how I will always think of Dr. Ruth. I would have asked her anything and not been embarrassed. She was that good at what she did. In fact, it was almost because she looks like a nice grandma that she was so approachable. That said, I’d probably still weed this book. There are different contraceptive options available these days, for one thing.

Dr. Ruth Talks to Kids - Contraception


  1. Dr. Ruth was definitely ground breaking and it’s too bad the submitter is unaware of who she is. She still makes the rounds now and then. She has been on TV, had her own radio show and has been in the movies. Her back story is interesting as her parents were victims of the Holocaust. I guess I feel somewhat offended as she is being dismissed as a “grandma”, mostly because I am a grandma myself and I don’t consider myself irrelevant. I can understand, however, weeding the book because of age.

  2. Fun fact: I was very excited to take a picture with Dr. Ruth a few years ago while she was publicizing her children’s book (not about sex). The submitter is making me feel very old at 34. My biggest beef with the book is how very 90s it looks. If she had a newer book, I’d consider it.

  3. If the submitter doesn’t know who Dr. Ruth is, it’s a safe bet that teenagers won’t know either. Sometimes that’s the only Weed Criterion you need.

    I feel old.

  4. You tell me another elderly woman who will answer the question “how many calories are in sperm?” without a pause and with a straight face?

  5. It definitely sounded like Submitter wasn’t aware of Dr. Ruth. I was in high school when this book came out and thought Dr. Ruth was great and definitely would have asked her anything.

  6. Agree with others here. Submitter must be young! Dr. Ruth was indeed a groundbreaking woman, and very honest, funny and matter of fact. And yeah, I’m not a grandma yet, but what up with the ageism?

  7. For those of you who remember the 1989-93 NBC-TV show QUANTUM LEAP (a show that virtually NOBODY remembers today except for its most rabid fans) there was a Dr. Ruth-themed episode in its last season- by a slight irony, around the same time that this book was published. It was quite strange, to say the least- the male hero of the show, time traveler
    Dr. Sam Beckett, inhabited her body, and was capable of feats such as beating up a lecherous man & jumping over the roofs of cars, that a woman of Dr. Ruth’s age probably could not accomplish very easily, if at all.

    1. Forgot to add the only reason to weed this is because the material is out of date. But otherwise – Dr. Ruth is awesome!

  8. I remember this one!! I would consider weeding it IF there was an objective problem with it such as, as mentioned, being factually incorrect because of new information.

  9. Dr. Ruth was an icon in her day, and was a fixture on the talk show circuit. Here in Canada we also have Sue Johanson, another “grandma” who talks frankly about sex and had a popular call-in show both on radio and on TV.

  10. I am a 28-year-old public librarian. I had no clue who Dr. Ruth was before seeing this post (although she is apparently awesome!), so I think the teenagers who might want to consult this book probably won’t either.

    I’d only keep this if there weren’t an equally-frank option with more up-to-date information available.

  11. As a general rule, I would say health information that is this old needs to be weeded, especially when it comes to reproductive health in which there has been a lot of innovation and terminology/perspective change over the past few years.

    That being said, Dr Ruth is pretty awesome and I bet that book holds up much better than other stuff of the same vintage. If she published a new updated edition, it would totally be worth considering.

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