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Teen Health 411

Book Review: Boy's Guide to Becoming a Teen

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In 2006 the American Medical Association published a wonderful book called "The Boy's Guide to Becoming a Teen." There are not many good books about puberty for boys out there, so I thought I would review this one for the fabulous readers of Teen Health 411.

I am very glad I read this book, and suggest every family with young boys put a copy on their bookshelf (hence the link above takes you to Amazon.com).

This is a straightforward book about the physical and emotional changes that boys will experience somewhere between 8 and 16 as their bodies change from children to adults. The book is completely sensitive to the range of changes boys experience, with some becoming hairy in the 4th grade and others never being able to grow a beard.

The authors are comforting and matter-of-fact about eating, fitness, height, weight, skin, hair, teeth, feelings, relationships, and most importantly to the target audience, penis 101 - scrotum, testicles, penises, yes, they tend to be crooked, erections, wet dreams and even masturbation are presented simply and without judgment. There is some talk about sexuality and contraception, but not in great detail, and very appropriate for preteens.

What sets this book apart from other books about puberty may be the extent to which it addresses the "feeling" side of boys - self esteem, relationships with peers and parents, strategies for coping with being shy, angry, and even stressed out. Making friends, being a friend, experimentation with substances and cigarettes, bullying, sexual harassment and even sexual assault and abuse all have short sections with important ideas for boys to think about.

I feel the same way about most books about puberty - they are really a conversation starter for parents - not all the information any preteen or teen needs about puberty, relationships, and sexuality - but this book is a great start. If you can tell your son you would like him to read it, and then make an appointment to talk about it - it will help him understand that you are approachable about health questions and want to be the one who answers his questions.

Be brave - get the book and start reading! It would be a good one for girls, too - so they have a little more compassion for the preteen boys in their lives! Good luck!

Photo credit: Christiaan Briggs
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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.

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