How Babies Are Made

how babies are made

How Babies Are Made
Andry and Schepp

Submitter (Who asked me to call him/her “Nialla”): This little gem is no longer in our collection, but it’s been kept in the workroom for years. I’m pretty sure it was kept there the entire time it was in the library, because previous directors of my small town library would never dream of putting such a “racy” book on the shelves.

The cover itself is just bland, but the artwork made of paper cutouts is just… wow. You can start with the cover with the title link, but if you want to literally skip the birds and the bees (and puppies), you can go with the human section.

Holly: The paper cut-out illustrations s in this book are…interesting. This is a different approach to sex ed, for sure!  Warning: the animals are shown in full…um…”activity.”  Potentially NSFW!!

female productive organs

dog sex organs



  1. I had this book when I was a kid! I loved those pictures, which are not just surprisingly frank ( although remember that it *was* the 70s) but little works of art.

  2. Too funny! As soon as I saw the cutouts I remembered this book! My mom actually got this one to show me where babies come from. I remember her reading it to me when I was really little.

  3. This was the book I had as a kid, which my parents gave me when mom got pregnant with my baby brother… in 1987. I definitely remembered the picture of the mating chickens, and remember wondering why two people just have to lie in bed together, and not get on top of each other like chickens.

  4. I remember that book! My parents bought it for me at age four when they announced my mother’s pregnancy with what would be my sister.

    I love that my parents had such a matter-of-fact attitude toward the birds and the bees.

  5. I have that book! A friend of my mom’s gave it to me (as a joke) when I was a teenager, and I’ve held onto it for the WTF factor all these years. I love how graphic it gets with chickens and dogs and such, and then for humans it shows them from the shoulders-up under a blanket.

  6. HAHAHA! I had this book as a kid! I remember looking through it many (MANY) times. I wonder if my mother still has it?

  7. Wow! Was this the standard “birds & bees” book in the 1970s/80s? My mom handed it to me in the mid-80s when I asked where babies came from.

  8. Frankly, those eyeless cut-outs are a little creepy – they remind me of the button-eyed people from ‘Coraline’.

    The scenes with the chickens and the rather over-excited puppy are a sad reminder of my own secondary school’s pathetic attempts at sex-ed – we were shown the reproductive organs of a rabbit, the gestation of a cow, and expected to work the rest out for ourselves (oh, and a bit later they told us we were probably going to get VD anyway, so best not to bother…)

    “Real babies are born, not made…”

  9. Wow! My family owned this book when I was growing up (in the early 80s). It was one of the books my parents used to teach me and my sister about reproduction. I had no idea it was a Time Life book. I wonder if they still have a copy somewhere.

  10. As a magazine editor, I once received a book for review called “How Dad and Mother Made Your Brother”–self-published, for good reason. Told in appalling Seuss-esque rhyme, it related the story of Stanley Sperm and Essie Egg (who sat coyly on a park bench waiting for Stanley to tip his hat). Stanley lived in one of two towns, and I quote: “The towns are both called Testicle/and they look like two round eggs/They’re not located on a map/but between your daddy’s legs.” I am blocking the memory of the conception scene. Worst of all, the author was a doctor!

  11. South Park originated as paper cutouts, too! Wonder if those guys had this book as children.

  12. Yup… still have this book in my collection at home, picked it up at a garage sale, it is probably one of the better books on the subject for kids, the one my mom read me as a child was so conveluded I had no idea what it was talking about.

  13. We had this book at my house! I remember my parents reading it to me, and being even more confused afterwards.

  14. @Janet Coburn: Have you seen the Carol Marsh book on this site? It’s nowhere near as bad as that, but your memory of another self “published” book reminded me.

  15. Why all the shock and “WTF” comments? This seems like a pretty matter of fact and sensible approach to sex ed to me – quite advanced for 1968.

  16. LOVE it!!! My favorite “how to” book is still “Where Did I Come From?” by Peter Mayle. That one had me in hysterics!!!

    I did love the chickens in this one. The people should have been naked, though!

  17. I remember this book! I don’t remember where from, babysitting maybe? Because my parents would never have bought it.

  18. By some strange synchronicity I found a copy of this book recently and out it on my site! I think it’s quite charming, although I would tend to agree re the creepiness of the dark-eyed children and babies. The perky little dog is a tremendous image!

  19. I had this book when I was a kid-it was charming! Very realistic but in an artsy way-the cut-outs were non-threatening but very frank-

  20. We had this when I was a kid too! My parents bought it to explain everything to my brother when I was comin’ along. Well, my mom, most likely – my dad would prefer to pretend we were found in a cabbage patch or something, most likely.

    Anyway, how weird, because I was just thinking about it the other day and wishing I had a copy for my daughter. I agree, it was really frank and matter-of-fact, and I loved the art.

  21. An absolutely incedible book — to this very day, from the date originally published.
    When released the book challeged the mind set of the public, most of which was against teaching sex education (the basic facts of life) to children. In spite of the subject being taboo HOW BABIES ARE MADE successfully defeated such thinking. It went on to become an intenational best seller and remained in print for close to 40 years. Altough many books were created on the subject after the release and success of this book, HOW BABIES ARE MADE is still the very best of the bunch. It’s available on a slew of sites tha carry out of print and/or used books.

  22. I also remember this fabulous book. My parents, and in fact my elementary school teacher, used HOW BABIES ARE MADE to teach the basic facts of life. It was perfect — beautifully presented, easy to understand, just enough to take me to the next stage at a later date. I still have a copy on my bookshelf and recomend it to everyone. I m delighted to learn that it is still available at and elsewhere on the net.

  23. Oh! This was the book my parents showed my sister and I (in the mid-80s, actually) to begin “the discussion”–my sister and I both have an enduring fondness for this book. I remember my biggest take-away from our discussion was, “I had no idea you could make paper do such amazing things!”–so I’m not sure how effective it was as a teaching aid for the facts of life. But I do have a serious appreciation of paper-cutting to this day.