This is the perfect stage to firmly establish yourself as as “askable adult” when your kids still WANT to talk with you! If you haven’t talked about these topics yet, chances are that your children will get all sorts of ideas and “information” from their peers and from the music they listen to and movies they watch. Those messages and values might not match your own, so you definitely want to have your voice heard at least as loudly as the voices in the media. If your child asks you a question and you can’t or won’t answer, they will seek that information elsewhere. These resources can help you to educate yourself about the content they want and need to know, and age appropriate language for sharing it. You can contact me if you want extra support! I love this stuff!
Recommended books about Puberty and for Tweens
This book is a MUST HAVE for families with a child moving into puberty (the author recommends ages 10 and up). In the same matter of fact, medically accurate and age appropriate language for all sorts of topics regarding growing up and sexual health, this book is a comprehensive resources for children at that age to research and learn more about their bodies, healthy relationships, and sexuality. I recommend giving this book to a child to read on their own time, AND using it as a parent or caregiver to get easy and straight-forward language to use when having conversations about these topics.
This book gets my highest recommendation! Written by the creators of the Heart to Heart program at Stanford Children’s Health/Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital, this flip book is a compilation of REAL questions from real tweens about body changes, growing up, sex, relationships, and so much more. The answers are medically accurate and age appropriate, as well as being thoughtful and insightful. A child or parent/caregiver can pick this book and start reading at any page because it is written in a questions and answers format. I also love this book because while the book has “two covers”- one side is “for girls” and the other is “for boys”- I personally believe that we all need to know about how each other’s bodies work. This copy is the revised edition and is more inclusive of all types of people this time around. I also really like that they include a section about how to talk to grown ups. This is a must-have for both puberty age kids and their parents.
Cory Silverberg does it again! If you’re ready to “go there” with your kid, you might as well go with humor and in a way that is as inclusive of all bodies and genders. It’s a great next step after What Makes a Baby described in the Early Elementary page. Unlike some of the other books mentioned below, sexual intercourse is discussed in addition to how bodies develop and what makes a healthy friendship or relationship.
This brand new book (2018) is rocking my world! It’s a body positive guide for girls 8+ and in my opinion, Sonia Renee Taylor does a great job of representing girls of different shapes, sizes, skin tones, abilities and so on. The pictures are super cute, and even the fonts and colors are fun! The book gives medical information about the changes that happen during puberty, as well as really thoughtful tips about how to deal with one’s own sense of self and body image. I love her chapter on healthy friendships. This book does not include much information about romantic relationships- the focus is really about feeling good about oneself and one’s body. She also has a chapter on finding safe adults to trust and talk to, and staying safe online. I bought this for my own daughter when she was 9 and she loved it!
This book is a super comprehensive look at growing up as a girl told through the lens of a big sister talking to her younger sister. It has great sidebars: “girl talk” and “Sarah’s tips” are fun and easy to read, and offer helpful information! In addition to information about puberty and the body/emotional changes related to it, Sarah also includes hygiene tips about nails, washing faces, shaving, glasses and so on. It’s a bit longer than some of the other books listed here, though it also is recommended for girls 8-12 and I think it’s a really nice option that covers just about everything that a young tween girl might want to know. Romantic relationships, attraction, and sexual feelings are not really mentioned in this book. There is great detailed information about different types of products that person can use when they start menstruating.
This book is recommended for upper elementary/middle school age boys and is fairly tame about all of the physical and emotional changes that happen between being a boy and being a man. I personally have read the third edition, so it’s possible that there have been some changes in the past few years. The third edition mostly talks about “boy stuff” in a traditional gender role kind of way, and only mentions briefly that boys “might start looking at girls differently” during puberty, but nonetheless the information is solid and medically accurate. There is minimal information about sexual anatomy, and no mention of how reproduction occurs or that people might have different sexual orientations.
This book is published by American Girl, but it actually seems to speak to boys. It’s up to date and in addition to addressing all sorts of health and emotional topics that boys might deal with at this age, there is a chapter that raises awareness about gender roles and stereotypes, and encourages boys to be kind and respectful.
Often parents ask me about strategies for talking to a child who “doesn’t want to talk about it.” Sometimes children that say they don’t want to talk, actually do want to listen! For other kids, a face to face conversation can be too intense or uncomfortable. I have used parent-child journals in my own home and both of my kids always appreciate getting notes from mama and writing back. Of course you can make your own and/or just buy a notebook. These listed below all have prompts inside that can make conversations easier.
Recommended Websites about Puberty and for Tweens
Every parent should know about amaze.org. There are literally hundreds of short cartoon videos about every topic about puberty, relationships, gender, sexuality, and so much more! Parents can create a “my amaze” folder and add videos that you can vet for your child to check out. The content is created by Advocates for Youth, and the videos are fun and educational.
Kidshealth.org is another fun website for parents and kids to learn about how our bodies work.
I have been checking out the free stuff on girlology too! Lots of “mom tips” about puberty and periods and all that good stuff.
The books and websites that I promote and review here are some of my favorites. I only recommend resources that I have read cover to cover myself, either for my own professional development, or that I use regularly with my students or my own kids. The values in the resources I recommend align with my values as a health educator and as a parent. I encourage you to read any book first yourself before reading them with your children, to ensure that the values in the books align with your own family values. I have provided links* to purchase books online for your convenience, and of course I encourage you to support your local bookstores as well!
* Disclaimer: Please be aware that Askable Parents may receive compensation or some other benefit from affiliate third parties in exchange for featuring products on our website. Please contact us if you have any concerns or questions.