Sex Education Book for Chinese Children and Their Parents

A series of primary school textbooks about sex has triggered debate on the mainland of China in 2017. Although some educators and parents have payed attention to sex education in the past few years, sex ed is still a sensitive topic for many people in China.Because of the lack of sexual knowledge, an increasing number of Chinese adolescents engage in unprotected sexual activity. As a result, there has been a parallel increase in unwanted pregnancies and abortions, as well as in sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV/AIDS.



Research, Interaction design, Handcraft

Survey, Arduino, Visual Design, Prototype

Market Research

The current situation about sex education is influenced by political system, culture background and many other factors in China. Except related classes, sex education products on the market is another way for children to explore the domain about sex. There are two common relevant products in the market, picture books and sex education toy.

Although, it is not hard to find all those mature products in Europe and many other countries in the world. Based on my market research, there are not many remarkable sex ed products in the Chinese market.

Because of the competitive education system and the big population, most of Chinese parents pay attention to children’s academic record and education since the early childhood. However, sex education is not a part of it. According to the research in Barnes & Noble and Xinhua bookstore (the largest and only country-wide bookstore chain in China), love and emotion is a common topic in the Children's books in America. But in China, mathematics, and science are the key works in the children's section in a bookstore.

Some books for 3-5years old children in Barnes & Noble
A series of book about science, math and Chinese characters in Xinhua bookstore

User Research

I conducted the user interview in order to get more information about Chinese parents’ attitude towards sex education. Besides, To validate my assumptions and collect more information, I posted a questionnaire about parents’ attitudes towards sex education. The results of the user research are as follows:


Through user interview and questionnaire, those young Chinese parents make people feel like they become less conservative comparing to the older generation. Most parents support sex education and teach their children about the basics, which shows that there is a niche market for sex education products in China.


The negative part was that parents are skeptical about sex education taught in school, which shows that school education is not a good approach to teach children about sexual knowledge. Besides, most Chinese parents don’t have the correct concepts about sex education, for example, many parents think children should learn about sex after 9 years old, and in their mind, sex physiology and sexual health care is the only content in sex education.


All in all, Chinese parents need a teaching tool to help them start the conversation with their children. 5-8 years old is an appropriate age span for children to learn more about sexual knowledge, not only sex physiology but also heterosexual relationships should be included.

My design

And according to the actual situations in China and my user research, book is a good form to deliver the idea of sex education. Here is the list of all the sex related contents in my book:

  • LGBT

  • human reproduction

  • physical changes during puberty

  • self-protection

  • heterosexual relationship

Pop-up book, puzzle game, and flip book are reasonable options to enrich the contents of the book. By making use of the existing core mechanic of game design and other universal language, we are able to lead users to interact with the product without text instructions. For example, if there is a button in front of you, pressing is the action that you will make to interact without thinking. So there are several important factors that we need to think about how to trigger users’ action, such as color, shape, sound, touch and so on.


There are two pages with electronics in this sex education book. The first one is the page about puberty and self-protection. By putting pressure resistances under the patterns of breasts and genitals, pressing some parts of the human shape will trigger the sound of alarm. In this way, parents are able to teach their children about what is good touch and bad touch. Another one is the page about eating habits during puberty, there are 4 buttons under different types of food, when the user presses the junk food, the LED under the acne will be turned on.


In the rest of the books, interactions without electronics are designed to show other topics about sex education. About the material, felt is a durable and cost effective option to make this product. As a teaching tool, this book could be turned over for many times. Considering the usage and the situation that all the electronics need to be hidden, paper could be much more fragile than felt. As for the visual style and color scheme, warm-toned colors are selected to match the age of target users and make the whole book consistent from the first page to the last one.

User Test & Feedback

Most of parents said that they love the handcraft style of the book and the interesting interactions in this product. Some parents think this book seems like a product designed for female users. Maybe more contents about boy need to be included. Other parents express their concern that it is too early to teach 5-8 years old children about how to use a sanitary pad.


There is a gap between a prototype and a mature product in the market. In the next step, every page of this book could be made as a removable module, so that users are able to customized their books based on their own needs.