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Advanced Praise for So Sexy So Soon

“If you want to make the world safe for both the boys and the girls you care about, you must read this book. Diane Levin and Jean Kilbourne really understand what we’re fighting against, and they also show us a way to transform the world for our children–and make us feel empowered in the process.” –Rosalind Wiseman, author of Queen Bees and Wannabees

“This book–by two of America’s leading experts on the effects of media on children–is powerful and profoundly useful. It is packed with great stories and poignant examples of the stress children face in our sex-soaked culture. Best of all, the authors offer sane and practical solutions for all of us who want to make things better for children, parents, schools, and the culture at large.” –Mary Pipher, Ph.D., author of Reviving Ophelia

So Sexy So Soon is a most timely and important book. For parents who are troubled and worried about what their children are seeing and hearing, it offers helpful guidance and support; it not only documents the trends but provides parents with many useful strategies to combat them.” –David Elkind, Ph.D., author of The Hurried Child

“Levin and Kilbourne, two of the nation’s most astute analysts of media and youth, have produced the definitive book on the sexualization of childhood. Complete with sample conversations, guidelines, and practical advice, this book will teach you how to keep your child healthy as you navigate the minefields of popular culture. Essential reading for parents, educators, and health professionals.” –Juliet Schor, professor of sociology, author of Born to Buy

“Every parent should read this eye-opening book. It is a rallying cry to take a stand against the commercial sexualization of children. I highly recommend it.” –Alvin F. Poussaint, M.D., professor of psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, and director of the MediaCenter at Judge Baker Children’s Center

“Levin and Kilbourne show us how children, from their earliest years, learn about sex, sexuality, and relationships. Best of all, they give us concrete strategies to fight harmful influences and help us nurture children toward loving relationships now and throughout their lives.” –Nancy Carlsson-Paige, author of Taking Back Childhood and Professor of education, Lesley University


Public Republic

It takes a lot to shock me, but elementary school kids playing “the rape game” on a school bus? Baby T-shirts sporting “Chick Magnet” on the front? Blow jobs at Bar Mitzvahs? All this and more is documented in Diane Levin’s and Jean Kilbourne’s important new book aimed at helping parents steer their children into a world where pop culture is spelled S-E-X.

In addition to identifying the problem of raising kids in a “toxic cultural environment”, the authors ask, “What can you do?” and then wisely and practically offer specific steps to take.

These guidelines – coming from an educator and an expert in media content analysis - range from how to “keep up with children’s media and popular culture” to “work[ing] cooperatively with other adults.” There are helpful lists like “Twelve Reasons Why Just Saying No Isn’t Enough” and scripts for “Working It Out Together.”

This book is not the work of doomsday polemicists; it is a parenting manual for the 21st century written by two experts who get the problem and give useful tips for confronting it. (Elayne Clift, May 16, 2009). Read the full review here, at Public Republic.

Parent Coaching Institute (PCI) Resource Center

Angeles Arrien (author of The Four-Fold Way) once said, "When we lose touch with our inner wisdom, we abnormalize the normal and normalize the abnormal." What was considered crazy, disgusting, or taboo yesterday could become status quo, even necessary, tomorrow—if we aren't paying close attention to our own internal guidance system. But that's not so easy to do anymore. Today's commercialized culture pushes limits for market share and bombards with mass-delivered influential, often aberrant messages—making it increasingly difficult for moms and dads to function from their "wise selves."

An extremely disturbing trend is the counterfeit culture's sexualization of children. From early childhood through adolescence, today's kids are bombarded with negative gender images and skewed messages about sexuality. Twenty years ago, for instance, when I was raising my children, it would have been unheard of, even unspeakable, for manufacturers to market thongs for seven-year-old girls. Yet today, crazy as it is, that's what's happening. So Sexy So Soon provides many other equally distressing examples of how our innocents are now just cogs in the "sex sells" marketing wheel. The impact is profound. So Sexy So Soon demonstrates the critical urgency of the issue and beautifully articulates what can be done about it by parents and by all of us working together to stop this insidious form of child abuse. (The authors remind us that the thong is the stripper's clothing of choice, in case we have forgotten.) (Gloria De Gaetano, February 2009). Read the full review here, at PCI website. Also available at Seattle's Child.


On a recent trip to Target I picked up what I thought was a pair of plain shorts for my six-year-old daughter (the only ones I could find that weren’t obscenely short) only to discover the word “Rockstar” written in glitter across the bottom. No, thank you. I prefer clothes that are all cotton, preferably organic and made of 100-percent non-tacky material. Am I the only parent who doesn’t want her daughter to look like a Poison groupie? Then why all the Bratz dolls, age-inappropriate outfits and disturbing TV images? Barbie is starting to look wholesome by comparison. Thankfully, there is So Sexy So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood and What Parents Can Do to Protect Their Kids (Ballantine, $25, 240 pages, ISBN 9780345505064). This is the must-read parenting book of the bunch. In it, the authors explore how sexuality in mass media affects our children. They also offer strategies for counteracting the negative messages our kids are receiving—and not just girls. One of the many laudable things about So Sexy is that it explains how boys are targeted, too. Written by two internationally recognized experts in early childhood development and the impact of the media on children and teens, Diane E. Levin, Ph.D., and Jean Kilbourne, Ed.D., So Sexy So Soon is an invaluable and practical guide for parents who are alarmed by the media’s assault on girls and boys. The authors understand that we can’t escape our commercial culture, but, they argue, we can be agents of change. Here they provide strategies for a counterattack, like encouraging more imaginative play and setting limits on TV and other media when your children are at one another’s houses. (Katherine Wyrick, August 2008) Read all the August 2008 reviews of parenting books from BookPage.

Publishers Weekly

The authors (Levin is a professor of education; Kilbourne, an authority on the effects of advertising) accuse the media of sexualizing children. Constantly, American children are exposed to a barrage of sexual images in television, movies, music and the Internet. They are taught young that buying certain clothes, consuming brand-name soft drinks and owning the right possessions will make them sexy and cool—and being sexy and cool is the most important thing. Young men and women are spoon-fed images that equate sex with violence, paint women as sexually subservient to men and encourage “hooking up” rather than meaningful connections. The result is that kids are having sex younger and with more partners than ever before. Eating disorders and body image issues are common as early as grade school. Levin and Kilbourne stress that there is nothing wrong with a young person’s natural sexual awakening, but it is wrong to allow a young person’s sexuality to be hijacked by corporations who want them as customers. The authors offer advice on how parents can limit children’s exposure to commercialized sex, and how parents can engage kids in constructive, age-appropriate conversation about sex and the media. One need only read the authors’ anecdotes to see why this book is relevant. (July 7, 2008)

Library Journal

Levin (education, Wheelock Coll.; Remote Control Childhood? Combating the Hazards of Media Culture) and coauthor Kilbourne (Can't Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel) have cultivated their credentials as experts on media influence and children's development. As the title promises, this book delineates formative social influences promoting premature sexual knowledge and behavior in young children. Among examples of the "new sexualized childhood," the authors emphasize the well-established fact that manufacturers take advantage of children by pushing sexually suggestive products such as Barbie and Bratz dolls, eliciting child sexual behavior. A more useful feature is the sage advice to parents. By emphasizing ongoing discussion and communication between parents and children, this work provides strategies for helping children, particularly adolescents, thread their way through the minefields of societal and peer-reinforced sexuality. Comparable to Susan Linn's Consuming Kids: Protecting Our Children from the Onslaught of Marketing and Advertising, this book is recommended for all public libraries. (Lynne Maxwell, Villanova University School of Law Library, PA, June 15, 2008)