Book Review: Girl's Guide to Becoming a Teen

As a parent of two girls, I know that they can use all the information they can get to help navigate the changes they experience during the gain of "40 pounds and 10 inches" associated with puberty!

In 2006 the American Medical Association published a wonderful book to help parent and teens, called "The Girl's Guide to Becoming a Teen." Even though there are some great books about puberty out there for girls, this one is pretty comprehensive, so I thought I would review this one for the awesome readers of Teen Health 411.

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

This is a straightforward book about the physical and emotional changes that girls will experience somewhere after age 8 as their bodies change from children to adults. I was not happy that the first few chapters focus on eating, exercise and weight, because I think choosing that focus just feeds right into our culture's obsession with "external beauty," but talking about this with our daughters can mitigate the impact.

The authors are comforting and matter-of-fact about breasts, smells and vaginal discharge, eating, fitness, height, weight, skin, hair and hair removal, teeth, feelings, and relationships. I think a nice addition to the book would have been a hygiene chart, so here is a link to one: hygiene chart for preteens. There is some talk about sexuality, sexually transmitted infections, and contraception, but not in great detail, and very appropriate for preteens.

This book does a good job of addressing the social aspects of being a preteen - making friends, being a friend, bullying, sexual harassment and even sexual assault and abuse all have short sections with important ideas for preteens to think about.

Again, books about puberty are a conversation starter for parents - no book includes all the information preteens need about puberty, relationships, and sexuality - but this book is a great start. Leave it out and your daughter will find it, or encourage her to read it! You want her to understand that you are approachable about health questions and want to be the one who answers her questions.

Be brave - get the book and start reading! It would be a good one for boys, too - to help take the mystery out of periods, breasts, and girls! Good luck!

Photo credit: Christiaan Briggs
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