A few years ago, when my cousin was heading into puberty, I sought out and compared several different books on the subject with the goal of getting her one as a gift. I was most impressed with the American Girl books, The Care and Keeping of You and The Care and Keeping of You 2. Now that her brother is 10, I was very excited to see that they have a new puberty book for boys too. So without further ado, here are some boys’ puberty books:
Guy Stuff by Dr. Cara Natterson
As with most health books, the first thing I look for is publication date. Research and public opinion change very quickly, so a recent publication date is a good sign that a book is going to have the most current information. It’s not to say that that info won’t then be out of date in several years, but it’s got to be more accurate of what we know at this moment in time than a book published even five or ten years ago. More to the point, it will likely address issues in a way congruent with current social norms. For example, this book makes clear that eating healthy and getting exercise is as important as loving your body as it is. However, one thing that caught my eye is that Natterson aims her advice towards the middle of the pack and not toward anyone on the fringe in other ways. She says that you will get taller during puberty – what about little people
? She says you should get exercise – what about people with physical disabilities or illnesses? There is a section on hair care, which goes into detail about the many kinds of hair that white people tend to have, and just touches on “textured or natural hair.” From the photo on her website, Dr. Natterson appears white, so maybe she just didn’t feel confident in delving into this area. But overall I liked this book a WHOLE lot, and was glad that it covered a whole body, hair to toes, and stuff like emotions, moods, and sleep.
The Ultimate Guys’ Body Book by Dr. Walt Larimore
This book is published by Zonderkidz, which is a division of Zondervan, a Christian publisher. That fact in itself is not enough to make me put it down, though I know it would be for some so it’s just good to note. I was very curious how Larimore handled certain aspects. I was glad to see that he does not perpetuate the myth that masturbation causes blindness, as has been stereotypically associated with Christians. In fact, it doesn’t address masturbation at all, but I was satisfied with the response to the question of whether wet dreams are okay or something to feel guilty over (short answer: they’re okay). Some of the information is a bit perplexing to me, such as in Chapter 18, “Is having only one testicle okay?” Dr. Latimore begins, “Well, it’s not normal, but it’s also not rare.” Two pages later, he concludes, “Having one testicle is normal, but rare.” So maybe he just needed a better editor. This book would be great for a kid who has their own belief in God, but probably not at all helpful if given to them by a well-meaning adult to reinforce external pressures to follow Christianity, as all tips for living a sin-free life are couched in Bible quotes.
I thought Guy Stuff was comprehensive – wow! If my mom hadn’t already gotten Guy Stuff, I’d be buying my cousin this one. It covers physical and emotional changes as well as sleep, grades, money stuff, dating, the internet, bullying, and even being friends with your siblings. Each topic is only a page when you could probably write a whole book on each one, so it’s really only skimming the surface, but a 9-year-old (the recommended minimum age, and it seems the age of reader the author had in mind) would be able to come back to this over and over and use it as a springboard for further research throughout his teen years. It was a bit heteronormative so that might be a downside if the pre-teen in question doesn’t fit into that narrative.