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My 6-year-old daughter owns about a dozen books about bodies, babies, and consent (par for the course when your mom is a sex writer). I maintain a separate shelf in my bedroom that holds eight more books I’ll pass along to her — or read myself — as she gets older. And then I have several more that are just for me: books about how to be a sex-positive parent from birth on.
But there is a gap (gasp!) in my collection. This summer, my daughter turns seven. And though I didn’t experience menarche until I was 13, there are some kids who enter puberty as early as eight years old. And god knows I don’t want Em to be blindsided by blood in her underwear or other bodily changes.
And so, I recently did want any mildly obsessed mother would do: I went in search of the best puberty books for kids. Here’s what I found.
Best Puberty Books for Girls
Celebrate Your Body by Sonya Renee Taylor
The Girls’ Guide to Sex Education by Michelle Hope
The subtitle of this book says that it contains over 100 answers to urgent questions about puberty, relationships, and growing up. Examples include: What is a period? Why are my boobs sore? How do I use a tampon? How do I wash my private area? The Q+A format helps make the content easily digestible…and easier to navigate for those girls who have very specific questions about their changing bodies. And parents aren’t left behind either. The foreword explains how parents can best approach sex education with their kids using the book as a tool.
Best Puberty Books for Boys
Guy Stuff by Cara Natterson and Micah Player
Growing up Great! by Scott Todnem and Anjan Sarkar
Billed as the ultimate puberty book for boys, this title lays out the changes kids can expect during puberty and gives them tips on how to maintain their overall health and well-being. The book also includes a glossary of puberty terms and a plethora of coping mechanisms as they grapple with the emotional impacts of growing older.
Best Puberty Books for Kids of All Genders
The Every Body Book by Rachel E. Simon and Noah Grigni
Of course, my favorite puberty books are those that are geared toward all genders. Because it’s important for kids to know about and gain empathy around what their peers are experiencing. This one is another sex-positive book I’ve mentioned before, an LGBTQ+-inclusive guide that covers sex and gender, love and attraction, sexual intercourse and, most important of all (for our purposes here), the physical and emotional changes that go hand-in-hand with puberty.
Wait, What? by Heather Corinna and Isabella Rotman
God, I love that sex ed comics are a thing. And who better to put together a sex ed comic about puberty than the founder of Scarleteen and the cartoonist, illustrator, and sex educator who’s been featured there (and who has multiple comics about sexuality under her belt)? This particular graphic novel covers all the essentials about pre-teens’ and teens’ changing bodies and shifting emotions. The diverse cast of characters discusses everything from body image to sexual and gender identity to consent.
Sex Positive Talks to Have with Kids by Melissa Pintor Carnagey
This book is geared toward parents — and covers way more than just puberty — but I had to include it. The other month, I interviewed Melissa for a piece about how to normalize talking to your kids about periods and, my god, I have never seen someone get so excited about menstruation. In this book, Melissa advises families on how best to raise sexually healthy children. Pick this one up if you’re grappling with how to start conversations with your kids about bodies, consent, pleasure, and more.
Puberty Is Gross But Also Really Awesome by Gina Loveless and Lauri Johnston
Finally, this brand new book provides a humorous take on puberty, acknowledging all the stuff that seems super gross but is, in actuality, super awesome. There are chapters about body changes, identity, health, self-confidence, bullying, crushes, and my god I could go on. I am so excited about this book.
Godspeed, parents, and good luck to your kids, too. I promise…puberty isn’t the big bad you think it is.