AMA Boy’s Guide to Becoming a Teen: Getting Used to Life in Your Changing Body, by Amy B. Middleman, MD and Kate Gruenwald Pfeifer, LCSW

AMA Boy’s Guide to Becoming a Teen: Getting Used to Life in Your Changing Body. By Amy B. Middleman, MD and Kate Gruenwald Pfeifer, LCSW.  Illustrated by Brie Spangler.  Jossey-Bass, 2006.  128 pages. $12.95

Content:  This book provides boys with an overview of the physical, emotional, social, and relational aspects of entering into the teen years.  Puberty and it accompanying body changes are explored in depth, from acne and growing taller to nutrition and the reproductive system.  There are also chapters exploring feelings, describing situations boys might find themselves in and helping them to articulate their feelings.  Changes and challenges in relationships are explored including with parents and elementary school friends.  The book provides ideas about how to address bullying, peer pressure and conflicts with peers.  This book also discusses sexuality, including crushes, dating, and sexual activity.  Boys having crushes on other boys is briefly mentioned with advice to talk to a trusted adult if the feelings are confusing.  There is mention of STD’s, sexual harassment, and sexual assault, as well as ideas for “healthy ways to be close,” ie non-sexual.  The book is illustrated with a multi-cultural cast of teenagers (all stereotypically attractive, none overweight) as well as anatomy diagrams.

Review: Overall this book provides a lot of important information in a matter-of-fact and approachable way.  It goes into detail about puberty and the other topics are addressed with less depth, but it is amazingly comprehensive, and touches on many important topics.  As mentioned above, it even speaks to boys having crushes on other boys, though it falls a bit short in stating that a boy might have those feelings, and fairly soon after telling them to talk to a trusted adult, if they feel confused.  I’m not sure that would be validating for a young boy with those feelings.  I also question how realistic some of it is, though I think it’s well intentioned, as I’m not sure teenagers who really want to have sex are going to, instead, try playing “together with a new puppy,” (p. 106), which is one of the book’s suggestions.  On the other hand, it certainly is a good message to send that there are other options, and that boys shouldn’t feel pressured into doing anything that does not feel comfortable to them.  The text is readable for all tweens, but the subject matter, particularly the discussions around sex, make it likely more appropriate for older tweens and young teens.  This would be a great one for parents to screen before giving to their child, to make sure the material is appropriate for that child’s maturity level, as they are so varied in the tween (and teen) years.

Genre(s): Non-Fiction

Reading/Interest Level: 12 -14 years

Available in: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook

ISBN: 978-0787983438

Similar Books: The “What’s Happening to My Body?” Book for Boys, The Boy’s Body Book: Everything You Need to Know for Growing Up YOU, On Your Mark, Get Set, Grow! A “What’s Happening to My Body?” Book for Younger Boys

Subjects: puberty, boys’ bodies, human bodies, growing up, hygiene, health, nutrition, sexuality, feelings, sex


On Your Mark, Get Set, Grow! A “What’s Happening to My Body?” Book for Younger Boys, by Lynda Madaras

On Your Mark, Get Set, Grow! A “What’s Happening to My Body?” Book for Younger Boys. By Lynda Madaras.  Illustrated by Paul Gilligan.  Newmarket Press, 2008.  104 pages. $9.95

Content: On Your Mark, Get Set, Grow! Introduces preteens to the changes that are happening or will happen throughout puberty.  Chapters cover the growth of sex organs, body and facial hair, height spurts, weight and muscles, body odor and pimples, erection and ejaculation and “Becoming Your Own Self.”  With straightforward, understandable information as well as some humor, Madaras takes boys through the various changes they will experience, all the while reassuring them that these changes are entirely normal and natural and that variation in responses to puberty is also completely normal.  The text includes cartoon-like illustrations that further demonstrate points and/or are detailed diagrams of body parts.  Illustrations represent boys from a variety of racial backgrounds.  This book covers puberty from A to Z, and, in fact includes an index for quick reference to particular topics.  The content is comprised of the author’s text, the illustrations, sidebars with “tips,” quotes from other boys or men about their puberty experiences, and each chapter ends with a “Questions and Answers” section.  The Q&A sections addresses what one would imagine to be commonly asked questions from pre-pubescent and pubescent boys with practical, reassuring answers to each.  Though this book does address erections, masturbation, ejaculation and orgasm, it does not address issues of sexual attraction or sexual activity with another person.

Review: One of the things that makes this book so appealing is the author’s obvious comfort with the subject matter.  Madaras’ calm manner and matter-of-fact text puts the reader at ease, even though some of the topics could make young readers squirm in discomfort.  With practical and useful facts, and a non-judgmental approach, On Your Mark, Get Set, Grow! provides tween and young teens boys the information they need to navigate the confusing, potentially scary, and hopefully exciting time in their lives called puberty.

Genre(s): Non-Fiction

Reading/Interest Level: 9 -14 years

Available in: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook

ISBN: 978-1557047816

Similar Books: The “What’s Happening to My Body?” Book for Boys, AMA Boy’s Guide to becoming a Teen: Getting Used to Life in Your Changing Body, The Boy’s Body Book: Everything You Need to Know for Growing Up YOU

Subjects: puberty, boys’ bodies, human bodies, growing up, hygiene, health, nutrition


The Care and Keeping of YOU: The Body Book for Girls, by Valorie Lee Schaefer

The Care and Keeping of YOU: The Body Book for Girls. By Valorie Lee Schaefer.  Illustrated by Norm Bendell.  American Girl Publishing, Inc., 1998.  104 pages. $9.95

Content: The Care and Keeping of You provides information to girls about caring for their bodies and keeping themselves healthy, from head to toe.  It also provides information about puberty and the physical changes girls can expect.  From teeth brushing and sports safety to bra buying and dealing with feelings, this book covers a lot of territory.  In a body-positive, nonjudgmental way, girls can learn about their health and hygiene through easy to read text, illustrations of many different types of girls, and special “Body Talk” pages sprinkled throughout the book, that include answers to some commonly asked questions.

Review: This is a great book, with important information, presented in an excellent form.  There is a lot of information in this book.  Information that parents may not have thought to talk to their tween daughters about.  Information that tween girls might be embarrassed to ask anyone about.  This book gives girls important facts and opens the door for more in-depth discussions with a trusted adult.  The illustrations portray a variety of ethnic groups as well as somewhat diverse body types.  There are rounder girls and skinnier girls, though, to be fully representative, the book should include images of overweight girls to be more accurate.  The text encourages girls to make their own decisions about their bodies, and supports them in figuring out what is most comfortable for themselves.  This is so important, for anyone, really, but particularly for young girls who are so prone to criticizing themselves and invalidating their own thoughts and feelings.  Schaefer addresses body image issues with sensitivity and support.  A common theme throughout the book is that girls should speak to a trusted adult whenever they have questions or need help.  But also, this book gives them a place to be independent and learn on their own.  Highly recommended to have in the house of 8-14 year old girls.  Just leave it laying around, they’ll pick it up when they’re ready. Note: does not address issues of sexuality.

Genre(s): Non-Fiction

Reading/Interest Level: 8 -14 years

Available in: Paperback

ISBN: 978-0613113830

Similar Books: The Care & Keeping of You Journal; Ready, Set, Grow!: A What’s Happening to My Body? Book for Younger Girls; The Feelings Book: The Care & Keeping of Your Emotions

Subjects: human bodies, girls’ bodies, growing up, puberty, hygiene, health