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More than anything recently, my friends and readers have been asking for my recommendations for books about puberty.
Books about changing bodies.
Books about growing bodies.
Books about sex.
Books about everything important.
Books for girls and books for boys–all about what they should expect to happen once they move into the wild world of puberty.
And though I am certainly not an expert on parenting or anything medical, I can talk books. So here, my friends, are my quick reviews and recommendations for books about changing bodies for girls and boys.
For some reason, this post has taken me ages and ages and ages to write. I mean it. I think I started it in the fall of 2014. Now it’s spring of 2016, and I’m finally finishing it. Sweet mercy.
Here’s the skinny. . .
Books About Changing Bodies for Girls and Boys:
For all little of our little ones:
Amazing You! by Dr. Gail Saltz and illustrated by Lynne Avril Cravath
Honestly, we didn’t do a whole lot of body books for our kids when they were super young; we simply identified body parts by proper names. That, in combination with hitting them with sprinklings of Stranger Safety, we kind of covered our bases.
Amazing You! does get into more detail with bodies and private parts, complete with (very tasteful) illustrations. Reading it will yield bigtime giggles, especially as your kids get older.
They cover then, now, and later body snapshots, and they even get into when a man and woman love each other and decide that they want to have a baby, the man’s sperm joins with the woman’s egg. From the egg and sperm, a baby will grow. . .
I like this book because it’s geared toward preschoolers and shares clear, concise information about bodies, babies, and birth with an emphasis on keeping private parts private.
Or check out: I Said No! A Kid-to-kid Guide to Keeping Private Parts Private, by Kimberly King or Your Body Belongs to You, by Cornelia Maude Spelman
For older boys and girls:
What’s the BIG Secret? Talking About Sex with Girls and Boys, by Laurie Krasny Brown, Ed.D., and Marc Brown
Marc Brown!The master behind the Arthur series! And his wife! They wrote this together. I love it.
This book is geared toward preschool through grade three and emphasizes that boys and girls are hard to tell apart aside from their bodies–girls and boys can act similarly, like similar things, speak in similar ways, but their bodies are different. The illustrations are familiar and easy, and tone is super casual.
The thing most parents probably want to know is that there is a mention of touching and masturbation with the emphasis that it’s okay as long as it’s kept private. There’s also mention of intercourse, when a man and woman fit his penis into her vagina. It is followed immediately by, ‘t feels wonderful to share this closeness when you love someone.
They cover the growth of a baby en utero along with birth; both are done tastefully, and the book ends with an emphasis on ‘enjoy[ing] being the girl or boy you are right now, with a body, mind, and spirit all your own!’
Meddling Auntie Presents: Puberty, by Tory Hoke with consulting by Kristine Chester
Tory Hoke reached out to me this year and shared her newest publication which is a 16-page comic publication filled with straightforward information on puberty. And the awesome thing is that it’s really like a cool aunt just sat down and gave you all the information you need over coffee one afternoon.
The very first page encourages you to: read it. . . . change parts you don’t like. . . and talk to the kid you love about the changes you made. I love that.
My favorite lines in the whole darn thing? Growth spurts are rough. Your first major one was when you were a baby, and the only good thing about it is that you can’t remember it. Puberty’s the last one, and I’m not going to lie: it’s a nightmarish hellscape that changes you forever.
Hoke covers everything in these 16 pages including ‘What I Wish They’d Told Us in Health Class’, and she ends with three things to remember: 1. puberty is only temporary; 2. friendships in middle school are the ultmate; and 3. you will have chances to be a hero. I love that.
It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health, by Robie H. Harris and Michael Emberley
They also have It’s So Amazing!: A Book about Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies, and Families (The Family Library) and It’s Not the Stork!: A Book About Girls, Boys, Babies, Bodies, Families and Friends (The Family Library)
This one says for ages 10 and up right on the cover, so definitely know that they’re on target here.
It’s a pretty straightforward book, complete with little illustrations that can be kind of silly at times but, like the text–pretty straightforward.
I like that the authors cover the various definitions of relationships and provide various illustrations of bodies. So often our kids grow up thinking that bodies have to be or look a certain way which is hardly the truth.
This text covers just about everything in a matter-of-fact way: masturbation, homosexuality, relationships and sharing, you name it. It covers the growing baby, the birth, the decision to have sex, and abortion. Staying safe on the internet, STDs/ HIV/AIDS, and making responsible choices is all covered as well, so in that way it’s a much more thorough book than most I’ve seen, with illustrations to cover just about everything.
The Care and Keeping of YOU: The Body Book for Younger Girls, by Valorie Schaefer
This is the first Care and Keeping of YOU book, and it is geared toward girls ages 8 and up. It is the perfect first book about changing bodies for young girls, as it covers just about everything they need for the 7-9 year old range.
Included is info on keeping a body strong and clean, nourishment, feelings, and menstruation are covered–in gentle, age-appropriate ways. It’s completely illustrated, and the drawings are still ‘little’ enough even with a step-by-step explanation of how to insert a tampon. I love the emotion section here; it covers sleep issues, friend issues, and more.
The Care and Keeping of YOU 2: The Body Book for Older Girls, by Cara Natterson
This is the second step after reading the first Care and Keeping of YOU book, so it’s more for girls ages 10 and older. The whole book–the font, illustrations, colors–is more mature than the first book.
All of the topics in Care and Keeping of YOU are covered in this text, but they go into a bit more detail. About half of the book is dedicated to the emotional changes girls experience, like moodiness, stress, body image issues, family, friends, problem-solving, and more. I love that so much time is spent here because often it’s omitted since the physical changes of puberty are the star of the show. Not always the case.
The Period Book: Everything You Don’t Want to Ask (but Need to Know!), by Karen Gravelle & Jennifer Gravelle and illustrated by Debbie Palen
The whole focus of this book is. . . you guessed it: periods. Yep.
And the whole intention, I believe, is to make girls feel more comfortable about the fact that this ship will soon be sailing their way.
‘Everything you don’t want to ask but need to know’ is truly covered in this text. I love this answer to the hypothetical question about what to do if you get your period and there isn’t a pad or tampon in sight:
In these situations, you probably have something in your bag or on your body that would make a good emergency pad. Socks work pretty well, by the way. So do bandanas and headbands. Remember, you can always wash them out afterward. Most important, don’t forget that other girls and woman can be a big help if you’re ever stranded without a pad or tampon. . .
Such good advice.
The Boy’s Body Book: Everything You Need to Know for Growing up YOU!, by Kelli Dunham and illustrated by Steve Bjorkman
Changing body, keeping clean, staying healthy, succeeding in school, understanding changing feelings, managing stress, keeping friends, and staying sane at home are all covered in this text for boys about 8 and older.
It does not go into any amount of detail with anything, though, so just know that.
I’d say it’s kind of a rough equivalent to the first Care and Keeping of YOU book for girls.
Love that there’s a lot here about how to get along well with teachers, friends, and family because that seems to often be overlooked in books for boys. The authors mention a lot about making and keeping friends, changing groups, and understanding that friendship is more than ‘watching TV and playing video games’ together.
An entire chapter is dedicated to staying safe in the real and virtual world, but it’s really more of a quick overview than a detailed how-to. It’s a great start, though–a really smart first book for boys.
The Body Book for Boys: Everything You Need to Know about GROWING UP, by Jonathan Mar and Grace Norwich
This book is a great tool for boys ages 9 and up. It’s slightly more advanced than the one I mentioned above, only in that it goes into a bit more detail about nocturnal emissions and vocal changes.
It’s written more like a graphic novel with tons of illustrations and eye-catching fonts throughout.Published by Scholastic, this guide still doesn’t get into much detail about the reproductive process, either. A good read, though, and very reader friendly.
One thing I really like about this book that I haven’t seen in others is a general timeline of what to expect and when. There’s also little quizzes after each section which probably helps with understanding but may be distracting or annoying for kids who are just looking for a few answers about what’s going on with their bodies.
Tons of quick and easy advice is here, though, for handling pressure, friendships, family, stress, and sleeplessness. Most advice is offered in the form of an answer to a common question, and that conversational tone will make the smart advice easier to take.
The Boy’s Body Guide: A Health and Hygiene Book, by Frank C. Hawkins with Greta L.B. Laube, M.D. and illustrated by J.C. Hawkins
Another pretty basic guide to boys’ health and hygiene, this one is for boys ages 8 and older.
In an extremely straightforward way, the authors cover head to toe changes in boys’ bodies, including how to brush, floss, eat, exercise, and stay acne-free.
There’s a quick mention about masturbation after an explanation about nocturnal emission, and I like that they explain it by saying that people don’t like talking about masturbation because it makes them uncomfortable and for that reason some funny and not-so-funny jokes are made about the subject. In the end, they suggest talking to a trusted family member or family doctor about it.
What’s Going On Down There? Answers to questions boys find hard to ask, by Karen Gravelle with Nick and Chava Castro and illustrated by Robert Leighton
A very thorough read for boys 10 and older.
This book reminds me of The Period Book mentioned above because it’s everything boys need to know about their growing and changing bodies. It covers physical changes and even includes a 2-D Orchidometer. Not sure what an Orchidometer is? I didn’t know, either. It’s a device doctors can use to measure how far along a boy is in puberty by measuring his testicles. Really. I think boys may find that interesting. The book covers everything boys need to know about their own changes, and it also includes changes that girls experience as well. This book covers sex, contraception, homosexuality, STDs, and it ends with a long chapter of Q & A titled “Is this Normal?” It’s really a small but mighty book. A good read for boys
Check it out–I’m actually on the news chatting about books about puberty and sex. GULP.
ABC7 Good Morning Washington: Must-Have Children’s Books about Puberty and Sex (September 2016)
What am I missing? Do let me know!
And remember, friends–definitely take a look at these books yourself before you hand them over to your kids. Every child and every family is different–so it’s important to find a book that feels like it ‘fits’.
Really, you are the best judge!
Check out a few other posts that may help you develop strong and healthy habits for your family:
- wait time
- my day, your day
- frozen peas
- kids who rock the kitchen
- kids who rock the laundry
- rest time
- gem jars
- arm circles
- noticing kids
- homework routine
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