Few parents, if any, spend their lives anxiously waiting for the day they get to talk to their kids about breast development, pubic hair and menstruation. Candidly speaking, the majority dread this moment. It’s uncomfortable to say the least.
But if you have a daughter who is fast approaching her teen years, her period may start soon and here’s a high likelihood that they’ve already begun asking questions about puberty. Should I use tampons? Why am I growing hair in new places?
The fact that your daughter is making these inquiries is good news. It means she’s ready to learn more about this subject matter.
The million dollar question is: How do you go about explaining the concept of adolescence? One simple answer, a puberty book.
A well-written book can serve as a great conversation starter and provide supplemental information. Here’s a list of books that can help you talk about puberty with your kids. These include novels where menstruation is a central theme, as well as guidebooks to a girl’s growing and changing body during puberty.
Are You there, God? It’s me, Margaret
First published in the 1970s, yes, long before cell phones and Tik Tok existed, Blume’s Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret is a tried-and-true classic.
It explores the life of Margaret Simon, an 11 year old who’s just moved from the city to the suburbs with her parents. Anxious about fitting in to her new environment, she seeks answers from the professional guidance counselor in the sky.
As implied in the title, Margaret’s quest for religion is a major theme in this book. This stems from the fact that both her parents have abandoned religion. Her father was raised a Jewish while mother was raised a Christian, hence her religious confusion.
Nonetheless, this theme doesn’t overshadow others, such as friendship, family, and adolescence. Blume delicately explores the tribulations that preteens go through when they reach puberty. Her ingenious use of humor helps to diffuse the gravity of situations and worries that young adults have when they reach this stage.
Go with the flow
Go with the flow is an inspiring read, which is centered around 2 key themes: girl empowerment and friendship.
Written by Karen Schneemann and Lily Williams, It follows the lives of 4 middle schoolers: Abby, Christine, Brit, and Sasha. The quartet decide to organize a protest when they realize that the school doesn’t prioritize providing free menstrual products for girls.
Meanwhile, they continue discussions pertaining to menstruation, in a bid to destigmatize the subject. Some of the questions they address are: what does it mean to have a regular period? Why do some girls experience heavy flows or cramps, while others don’t? Should taxes be imposed on products like pads and tampons?
It’s evident from these discussions that the authors are trying to fight the stigma associated with periods. More importantly, this narrative empowers girls to speak openly and demand better not just from a school administration, but also from society at large.
The porcupine year
A continuation of Louise Erdrich’s Birchbark House series, The Porcupine year is an entertaining read for pre-teens. It follows the life of Omakayas, a 12-year-old girl in 1852 America.
Omakayas and her Ojibwe family have just been forced out of their native home after white settlers begin encroaching on their land. The family thus decides to travel west by canoe, along the shores of Lake Superior.
But what starts out as a simple escape quickly turns perilous when Omakayas and her younger brother, Pinch, accidentally go over a waterfall. Fortunately, they’re reunited with their family soon after.
The book gives an account of Omakayas’ year of travel and how she grows, not just personally, but also physically. One particular event that Erdrich draws our attention to is when Omakayas gets her first period. By having the entire family celebrate this incident, the author shows us just how important this milestone is in a young woman’s life.
Revenge of the red club
Revenge of the Red Club is a book dedicated to helping destigmatize menstruation and empower young women.
Kim Harrington explores the life of Riley Dunne, an 8th grader and the leader of the Red Club, which is an after-school support group for girls. The club provides a safe place where girls can ask questions about menstruation without being judged or humiliated.
Unfortunately, the club gets shut down by the school administration when an anonymous parent makes a claim that one of the club’s published articles is “too inappropriate.”
To express their disapproval, Riley and her friends protest by plastering the gym’s wall with maxi pads and designing tampon crafts in their art class.
This book explains the body image anxiety, shame associated with menstruation, and the gender-biased standards that girls sometimes face.
It enlightens and empowers budding feminists and reminds them that they have a voice. It reinforces the need to stand up against issues such as body-shaming, discrimination, and injustice.
Just as long as we’re together
Another teen novel by Judy Blume, Just as long as we’re together is a narration about 3 girls: Stephanie (the main character), Rachel (her best friend), and Alison (the new kid on the block), and how they navigate their first year of junior high.
The story is told mainly from Stephanie’s perspective. Her world suddenly turns upside down when her parents decide to separate, just after moving to a new neighborhood. This forces her to take up a parental role to care for her little brother, Bruce.
The fact that she and Rachel (a self-professed perfectionist) wind up in completely different classes doesn’t help her case. Plus, she gets her first period at a school dance.
Stephanie has to tackle all these situations, all while trying to make sense of the physical and emotional changes she’s experiencing in her adolescence. Like the new interest she has in boys, specifically, Jeremy (the cutest boy in their class). Needless to say, she doesn’t embrace these changes well. She soon starts indulging in emotional eating as a coping mechanism.
The dynamics of Stephanie’s relationships (with her friends and divorced parents), physical changes and stress eating, are all issues that resonate with young adults. These make this book a great buy for teens.
HelloFlo: The Guide, Period
Written by the founder of HelloFlo company, Naama Bloom, HelloFlo: The Guide, Period offers an in-depth guide to the physical, psychological, and emotional changes that occur during puberty.
As you might have guessed from the title, menstruation is the primary theme in this text. Bloom explains why girls get periods, how they impact their moods and the essentials that a girl needs when she’s having her periods.
Many readers like the rawness and honesty that shines through this book. The author isn’t afraid to talk about sensitive topics such as how to insert tampons, breast development, and growth of pubic hair that occur during puberty.
I particularly love how much emphasis Bloom places on making young women feel both normal and empowered. Puberty can be such a perplexing phase of life and even knowledgeable kids may grapple with certain issues.
Bunk 9’s guide to growing up
Discussions circling the topics of adolescence, menstruation, reproductive system, boys, and the like, can be tricky. Luckily, Adah Nuchi’s Bunk 9’s guide to growing up serves as a great conversation starter. It’s a comprehensive guide that outlines the head-to-toe changes girls should expect once they reach puberty.
Nuchi’s book is as informative as it is entertaining. It almost feels like receiving advice from an older sister. To achieve this delicate balance, the author creates an imaginary collective of summer camp girls who guide the reader through sisterhood.
With each chapter, the 16 year olds at Camp Silver Moon reflect on their younger selves. They share their been-there, done-that experiences from puberty; hence, they offer advice in the process.
One thing that girls like about this book is the depth of information provided by the author. Everything related to puberty from breast development to menstruation, exercise, and healthy eating is covered in the book.
It’s so amazing: A book about eggs, sperm, birth, babies and families
Naturally, children are very curious when it comes to subjects of reproduction, babies, and the like. Answering these inquiries in an appropriate and comfortable manner can be challenging.
Thankfully, It’s so Amazing: A book about eggs, sperm, birth, babies and families offers kids the opportunity to find answers to their questions in a way that is both enlightening and entertaining.
Robbie Harris uses easy-to-understand language, humor, and captivating illustrations to explain concepts such as reproduction and birth. She presents content in a funny cartoon discussion between an inquisitive bird and a short-tempered, easily grossed-out bee.
I must admit that the author’s use of these characters was an ingenious idea. It allows her to present the narrative on intricate subjects in a fun but also informative tone.
The caring and keeping of you 2: The body book for older girls
A sequel to American Girl’s companion book, The caring and keeping of you 2: The body book for older girls is crafted specifically for girls aged 10 years and up.
Throughout the text, author Cara Natterson provides a wealth of information useful to girls undergoing or approaching puberty. She covers a wide range of topics from puberty to hygiene, emotional development, menstruation, and social dynamics.
Readers are particularly impressed with the Q&A section, which delves into potentially humiliating subjects like overactive sweating and the discomfort that comes with wearing a bra for the first time.
Natterson backs her content with cartoons. These provide detailed illustrations of certain topics such as anatomy, breast self-examination, and tampon use.
Overall, this text serves as an excellent guide for preteens, especially those who are anxious about getting to this phase of their life.
Cycle savvy: The smart teen’s guide to the mysteries of her body
The majority of puberty books delve into intricate details, such as the physical changes that occur to girls in their adolescence. But only a few offer guidance on how to navigate the menstrual cycle. Toni Weschler aims to fill this gap through her book, Cycle Savvy: The smart teen’s guide to the mysteries of her body.
She enlightens girls on subjects such as ovulation, fertility, and why girls undergo menstruation. Most importantly, the book enables young women to chart their cycles by keeping tabs on the signs that accompany a period. These include physical signals and shifts in mood, just to mention a few.
Since the book is crafted for teens, the author uses elements of content delivery that appeal to this audience. These include sample charts, fun brain teasers, and even first-person stories that resonate with readers.
The market is flooded with books about puberty and growing up. But not all of them provide accurate information.
We scoured the web to find the most enlightening and entertaining books to guide your child through puberty. These texts cover everything from menstruation to gender identity, and physical changes. These books also explain how one can navigate relationships during this phase. They would make a great addition to a first period kit for your daughter.