Have you talked to your kids about puberty?
by Jeanne Sager
Without a doubt, one of the hardest parts of having a child who is fast approaching the tween years is the increasing need to explain the changing body. Puberty doesn't scare me. Talking about puberty doesn't scare me.
But like many kids, my daughter is not a big fan of talking about her body with me. Considering her mother once sat through a sex talk with her fingers in her ears as she chanted "la, la, la, la, la" (I was such a mature kid), I suppose this is nature's way of getting back to me.
But whether she wants to talk about it or not, puberty is coming, and she has to hear about it -- if not from me, then from a book.
But what book? The market is rife with books on sex and hormones and growing up, but the problem is not all of them are really that good.
More than a few out there are too condescending to kids, others too cutesy or just plain inaccurate. So I did what any mother would do in my situation ... I reached out to other moms to find out what books they'd read with their kids!
Here's a round-up of the best choices for girls, for boys, and some that work for kids of both genders.
1. It's Not the Stork!: A Book About Girls, Boys, Babies, Bodies, Familie...
Part of a trilogy that also includes It's Perfectly Normal and It's So Amazing, this sex-ed book is recommended for kids as young as kindergarten, and gets high marks from parents for providing accurate descriptions of anatomy and sexual reproduction that are still child-appropriate. Although there are cartoon-ish illustrations, the book stays away from cutesy names for the body parts, and uses basic (but real!) words to explain where babies come from.
2. Your Body: Boogers and All
I've never met a kid who didn't appreciate some bathroom humor, and there's plenty in Your Body Boogers and All. But mixed in with all those laughs -- and plenty of crazy facts about the body (did you know we produce between one and two PINTS of snot a day?) -- is a whole lot of information on a child's growing body.
3. Be Healthy! It's a Girl Thing: Food, Fitness, and Feeling Great
Aimed at girls 10 and up, this book co-authored by a registered dietician doesn't just tackle the change body. It also teaches girls to be wary of marketing gimmicks and to be wary of the way girl's bodies are portrayed in the media.
There's a lot of emphasis on healthy eating ... and making sure girls know that body changes are NORMAL.
4. The What's Happening to My Body Book for Boys
An in-depth look at the boy's body, What's Happening to My Body? covers all the bases, including steroid abuse, acne treatment, sexually transmitted diseases, AIDS, and birth control.
5. What's the Big Secret?: Talking about Sex with Girls and Boys
Illustrations by popular children's book author Marc Brown (the guy behind Arthur) help to make this no nonsense book about reproduction easy for kids to swallow. Not only does it cover "how you make a baby" but also the proper words for genitalia, how to tell the different genders apart, and a host of other topics while respecting kids' intelligence.
6. American Girl: The Care & Keeping of You: The Body Book for Younger Gi...
Recommended to me by a NUMBER of parents, I bought this one for my daughter, and I'll be honest -- it's the American Girl name that attracted her to the book. But the good news for parents is the book is completely separate from the dolls and doesn't try to sell your little girl on buying one! The name attract a little girl who is dubious or uncomforable about the topic, but once she starts reading, what she gets is exactly what very mom wants for her girl.
Care and Keeping of You offers basic details on the changing body in a conversational tone, covering everything from acne to body odor. There's also a companion book for older girls that delves into the issues that come as they grow up.
7. The Boys Body Book: Everything You Need to Know For Growing Up You
Modeled after the American Girl book for girls, this tome covers everything from a boy's changing voice to his changing skin plus emotional issues such as making friends and dealing with feelings that are out-of-control.
The book doesn't cover sex outright, but it does give boys information about nocturnal emissions and other sexual issues.
8. Changing Bodies, Changing Lives: Expanded Third Edition: A Book for Te...
From Boston Women's Health Book Collective, the folks who published Our Bodies, Ourselves, comes this book for teens that covers a range of topics from eating disorders to teen pregnancy, STDs to relationship violence.
What is your go-to book about puberty for kids?