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A modern picture book about where babies come that it fits for every kind of family and every kind of kid. Read more

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This project was successfully funded on March 16, 2012.

A modern picture book about where babies come that it fits for every kind of family and every kind of kid.

About this project

We did it! 
Thank you so much to our 1953 backers.  In the final day we surpassed our goal of pre-selling 2,000 copies (in the end it was 2029 hard cover books).

You can still check out the project here, but if you missed the Kickstarter campaign and want information about ordering a copy of What Makes a Baby when it’s published, head over to   And thanks!
About This Project:

What Makes a Baby is my response to the fact that books about where babies come from leave many of us out.  They tell a nice story (mommy + daddy + intercourse = you!) but the truth is that more and more of us are acknowledging the help we get to bring children into our lives.  That help might be a doctor, fertility clinic, adoption or foster agency; it might be a turkey baster and a friend; it might be a sperm donor or a surrogate.  What Makes a Baby helps parents tell children a story about where they came from that isn’t just true for them, but true for everyone. 

Crafted for children roughly from pre-school to 8-years-old, What Makes a Baby is written and illustrated to include all kinds of kids, all kinds of adults, and all kinds of families - regardless of how many people were involved, what the orientation, gender identity, or other make up of the family is, or how it came to be that way.  It's a social justice approach to sex education.  Like all picture books, it's meant to be read to a child and gives the adult reader the opportunity to fill in as much detail as they would like.

Written by a certified sexuality educator, Cory Silverberg, and illustrated by award-winning Canadian artist Fiona Smyth, What Makes a Baby is being designed and produced with the help of Zab Design & Typography and will be an exquisitely made hardcover picture book.  32 pages and full color, it will be as fun to look at as it is useful to read.


Why We Want to Make This Book:

Cory:  I was raised by a sex therapist and a librarian, and I’ve spent most of my life thinking, writing, teaching, and talking about sex.  For most of my childhood, I was left out and felt different from other kids, even though I secretly suspected I wasn't  – and I don’t believe I am alone in that!  Now that I’m a sex educator and writer, the way I do my work is to teach and tell stories that both acknowledge our differences and connect all of us to each other.  I also have lots of experience in media production and marketing, some experience in publishing – AND energy to spare!  When you back this project, I will make it flourish in a way that will make you proud to say “I helped make this happen!”

Fiona: I’ve loved drawing and books ever since I was a kid, so helping create a picture book is a dream come true.  When I was young, children’s books revealed to me other worlds and possibilities, and helped me discover my vocation.  I grew up to become an artist, illustrator, graphic novelist, and OCAD U instructor.  In my art, I try to create accessible work that speaks truthfully of human experience. The work is often about identity and empowerment.  I have experience in self-publishing zines, cartooning, illustrating books, creating art shows, and art education.  With this collaboration, you will be taking part in making a very special book – beautiful, engaging, and impactful.

What We Already Have:

We have the story:  Cory Silverberg, respected in communities across Canada and the US for his writing and teaching on sexuality/sexual health, sexuality and disability, and sexuality and technology, has worked lovingly on the narrative and picked the choicest words.  It has been written and worked over through dozens of test readings with families of all kinds. (Check out a recent article on Cory!)

We have an illustrator:  The amazing Fiona Smyth will bring her wondrous and radical eye to the project, creating rich illustrations that draw children and adults in, without shutting anyone out.

We have the community: You! Which brings us to…

What We Need from You:

Our initial goal was to raise the funds to:

·      Pay for the time and labor to create the phenomenal illustrations

·      Pay our amazing designer

·      Cover the costs of the first print run of 3,000 books (including shipping it   out to all of you)

We reached that goal on our first day!!  So we know the book is going to be published.

Now it's about getting it out there.  This book is so needed in so many communities, and the more copies people pre-order the more we'll be able to get the book out in the world in a way that works for many and not just a few.

This is a project that has elements that traditional publishers would balk at. The way we want to create the illustrations, the collaborative process from start to finish, and the local printing are all things that even supportive publishers aren't set up to do.  This isn't a diss to publishers at all, they make great books.  But this is a different kind of project and we need to prove to ourselves, to publishers, and to the general public,  that it can work.  Your support let's us do it ethically and do it right.  It's also a way of making a statement about the value of inclusive stories.  Which is why our different reward levels are tagged with various acts of resistance.

All children deserve stories that teach them not only about how they are unique, but also about what connects them to all other humans.  What Makes a Baby tells that story without leaving some people out because of their gender, orientation, or family make up.  Please back this project and bring more stories of love and all of our fabulous family creation stories into the world.


If you’re not sure how this whole Kickstarter thing works, check out their FAQ page.  If you have any questions at all about the project, about where your money will go, or if you have ideas or suggestions of ways to collaborate please get in touch.  You can email Cory at

International backers (outside the U.S. or Canada) please add $20 to help us with the cost of shipping.


  • Great question! Let me start by saying that the way I work is very thoughtful and collaborative. That means not rushing, but thinking of things, and talking to lots of other people, before acting.

    I've been overwhelmed by the response so far and feel bad that I haven't been able to thank people individually for backing the project, so much of my time is being spent just connecting with backers. But I'm meeting with Zab who is both designing the book and ushering it through production, tomorrow and this is one of the things we'll be discussing. And on Monday I'm getting to be in a room full of parents and kids who are exactly who the book was written for (here in Ontario it's Family Day, and my local LGBTQ Parenting Network is having an event all about books!) So that will give me another opportunity to connect with folks I know and trust and respect.

    The short answer is that we'll be printing as many books as we can afford to. But in the next little while I"m going to post a longer, more thoughtful, and more detailed response. Thanks for asking and let me know if you have any more questions.

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  • A: I’ve been happy to get many emails from people asking if the book includes various specific scenarios (e.g. egg donation, foster adoption). The short answer is “no, but…”.

    That is to say: No, it does not visually depict specific forms of reproduction, BUT it works for all forms of baby-making in part because there is flexibility written into it.

    What Makes a Baby works for all forms of reproduction because it shares information that is true for all forms of reproduction. It was painstakingly written (and read and re-written and re-read and re-re-written) to be specific about this basic information without being either exclusive or vague about the wonderful and ever expanding array of ways children come into our lives.

    So what that looks like is that the first part and the last part of the book tell kids what we all need to make a baby. We talk about sperm, egg, and uterus without gendering either them or the bodies they reside in or come from. We do it without saying that you need a mommy and daddy, or even two people who know each other, and we make it very clear that there are many ways these elements can come together. The illustrations won’t ruin it by tokenizing or stereotyping what families look like. In fact they make it clear that all families are possible and they can all be beautiful.

    The middle part is where you, the adult reader comes in. There are pages where the reader is given an opening to share the particular story of how the specific child who is being read to came to be. The text and the illustrations are carefully done to leave it open and at the same time to engage the child reader. We model a vocabulary of specific of words and beautiful images that can be the tools for including the more personal details of your own family. We do this by breaking the “forth wall” and asking questions for the adults to answer.

    This is a book for kids roughly 4-8 years old. And it’s a classic picture book which means very few words, lots of beautiful pictures. For most kids this age it doesn’t work to give them a laundry list of all the ways people are making babies. There are more than 30 (that I can think of off the top of my head) and many kids that age won’t sit through it all (although some happily and eagerly will). More to the point, my approach, which comes from a social justice model, means that we’re trying to teach kids both the story of how they came to be AND the story of how everyone comes to be.

    So we chose not to include illustrations of an adoption agency, or a surrogate, or frozen sperm (but we did think a lot about it!). But the book allows you to tell your children those stories, or whichever ones are true for your family.

    I should mention that the more detailed version, with words and pictures and all the different methods of reproduction and birth WILL be in the second book in the series, which will be for kids ages 7-11 (and be far more than 32 pages and have have far more words!).

    Sex education is all about knowing your audience, and creating a flexible space where the person with the knowledge (in this case the adult reader) can respond with as much or as little detail as the person without the knowledge (the child reader) wants and needs.

    That’s a long answer! But I guess what I’m saying is that if you are looking for a text that illustrates particular methods of reproduction, that will be my next book (which we’re already working on). But What Makes a Baby absolutely does work for every conceivable scenario of conception. It requires that the parent or adult reader be an active participant in the conversation. Which is the key to good education!

    Again, any questions please let me know!

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  • I’m going to call this now: we have the most generous backers on Kickstarter! Many of you have backed at the $60 level and higher and have told me that you are going to share your extra copies with people and organizations in your life that need them. And even more have asked for suggestions as to where extra copies could be shipped.

    If you back at the $60 or higher level you will receive more than one copy of the book. I'm happy to send all the copies to you so you can keep them or share them as you wish. But if you would like to direct your additional copies to a shelter, bookmobile, library, fertility clinic, or parenting group, we will send it to them at no extra cost to you (you give, we give).

    But let's say that you want to spread the books around but you aren't sure where. That's where we come in again. I’m already connected with some shelters, parenting groups, and libraries that would welcome copies of What Makes a Baby. But I’m using all of you to broaden that list. So by the time we’re ready to ship (in June) we’ll hope to have over one hundred places to send your copies to for free.

    At the end of the campaign you’ll receive a survey from me, which will further explain how this will work. But in the meantime if you have any questions or if you have a suggestion of a local place that you’d like your extra copies to go to feel free to let me know so I can get them on the list.

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  • There’s no real secret. I spent almost two years working on the book and then spent three months of intensive preparation for Kickstarter. I asked everyone I knew who had used Kickstarter for their advice and they helped. I also emailed a few people who never got back to me, but didn’t let that get me down.

    Having a network to start with seems crucial, although if you have a project and are able to communicate it to people who really want it, I’m not even sure it’s 100% necessary.

    I read the following articles many times and integrated many of their tips into my own plan.


    Finally, you have to be ready and willing to ask people for help and to ask for what you want. These are things that, in my opinion, most of us are not very good at (I’m terrible at it) but it’s actually great practice. Asking for help is one way of resisting the ridiculous idea that we are all independent, and that we don’t in fact owe our very existence to the way that we help each other every day without acknowledging it or even being aware of it.

    Good luck!

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  • You selected
    Pledge $1 or more

    40 backers


    You get access to all project updates (which will include several jokes appropriate for your favorite 4-6 year old) and our sincere gratitude for your support.

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    38 backers

    Get an official “I know What Makes a Baby” button. Impress your friends with your knowledge, meet new people and possibly scare them with your comfort talking about human reproduction.

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    133 backers

    All of the above + an eBook version of What Makes a Baby (for iPad, Kindle, Nook, Cranny, etc…)

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    Pledge $25 or more

    1,038 backers

    All of the above + a first edition, hardcover copy of What Makes a Baby. We love old school hard cover picture books and promise to make this a beautiful object that’s both useful and fun to read. Full color, 32 pages.

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    417 backers

    All of the above + a personalized book inscription from the author and illustrator.

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    Pledge $60 or more

    174 backers

    All of the above + you get a second copy of the book to give to your sister who just had a baby, your favorite pre-school teacher, or we'll deliver it to a bookmobile, shelter, fertility clinic, GLBT or queer parenting group, library, or anywhere else you tell us.

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    Pledge $100 or more

    59 backers

    All of the above + we’ll deliver two copies of the book + you get what every sexually aware adult needs; a handy What Makes a Baby tote bag.

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    3 backers

    All of the above but we’ll deliver four copies to wherever you tell us (and if you're not sure we'll help you choose).

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    Pledge $500 or more

    6 backers

    All of the above + artist and illustrator Fiona Smyth will produce an original pop portrait of the person (or pet) of your choosing (see left side of the page for a sample of what your pop portrait will look like!). You send Fiona the image and you’ll get a signed original ink on paper portrait delivered with your copies of What Makes a Baby.

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    1 backer

    All of the above + an optional one-hour sex education lesson on the topic of your choosing with an AASECT certified sexuality educator (Cory). Delivered in person, via Skpe, IM, or pretty much any platform you choose. We can talk about raising sexually healthy kids, or being a sexually healthy adult. You set the agenda, Cory will develop the curriculum. Get sex smart and do good all at once!

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    0 backers Limited (5 left of 5)

    All of the above + a limited edition set of ten Fiona Smyth prints. These aren’t kid friendly but are screen printed on Arches paper and from her 1992 Fazooza series, each numbered and signed.

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Funding period

- (30 days)