With a tween girl at home, we've been starting to have "the conversation" or rather "the conversations" (plural). Well, we didn't just start - the talks have been happening for awhile. Friends have taken the Heart to Heart: for Girls Only class at Stanford, for girls and a female adult companion and spoke highly of the class.
The class has a book list of possible puberty books you can share with your daughter. I bought a few of them (plus one for a boy). I read a bunch of reviews on Amazon before buying them. I reviewed these books from an adult perspective because I don't think my daughter wants me to share her thoughts on issues like these.
Puberty Books for Girls
What's Happening to My Body - Book for Girls by Lynda Madaras
This 230 page book is comprehensive. Unlike the books for boys that I reviewed below, it's much more serious and reads like an adult book, with illustrations that are realistic and not cartoonish, unlike what the cover depicts. The book is aimed at girls 10+ and includes quotes from girls on what they think of certain topics discussed. Definitely read this book before giving it to your daughter. It's got a lot of great information, but it is thorough and mature. The book covers:
-puberty (and growth)
-sex and anatomy (with drawings and descriptions of both male/female parts; no drawings of couples together)
-boys' puberty changes (including erection/ejaculation etc.)
-ovulation/menstruation (and how to care for yourself during that time, using tampons and pads and dealing with cramps, etc)
-breasts (all the parts, size, growth, differences in breasts)
-bra (care of, measuring for)
-pubic hair growth
-the lady parts down there
-changes in hair, acne
The author has written 12 books on health, child care and parenting, and taught puberty and health education for 25 years in California schools. There is a boy's version of this book, What's Happening to My Body - Book for Boys that I have not read.
Period. A Girl's Guide by JoAnn Loulan
This relatively slim book has one main topic - your period. It's illustrated with cartoonish drawings that are mostly drawings of kids doing normal activities. There are a few drawings of anatomy (including the difference between a 12 year old's uterus and area, and a 25 year old woman's) and tampons (including how to place - which reminds me of the uncomfortable but hilarious Curb Your Enthusiasm scene where Larry David tries to teach a girl to use a tampon). The book talks about all things period: cramping, tampons, pads (with drawings of those ancient belts we used to use!!), pelvic exams, a calendar to track periods, and a parent's guide. The author is a psychotherapist who has written professionally about sex and sexuality.
The American Girl books The Care and Keeping of You were recommended as well. I took a look at these at the book store, and they looked good. The Care and Keeping of You - 1 - the Body Book for Younger Girls (ages 8+). deals with hygiene, nutrition and exercise in addition to puberty changes (physical and emotional) and menstruation in a tasteful way.
The Care and Keeping of You - 2 - the Body Book for Older Girls is for girls 10+ and provides more detailed information than the first book. The book talks about emotions, self-esteem, reproductive organs, breasts (including exams and breast cancer), hygiene, hormones, bras, menstruation (including tampons and insertion), moodiness, body image, internet safety, eating disorders/cutting. The book does not talk about the mechanics of sex. Some readers felt the illustrations were too young for the readers of the book, but the reviews were all positive about the content. Some felt that there wasn't enough new information included after reading the last book. The author is a mom and pediatrician.
Puberty Book for Boys
Bork Reveals the Real Deal about the Facts of Life by Terri Shearer Trenchard. The author sent me this book for review, aimed at boys 9-12 years old. I've not yet shared it with my son, because I don't think he's interested yet. It covers issues like:
-what is puberty and when will you know you're in it?
-embarrassing stuff like wet dreams
-sex, reproduction and childbirth. Nothing sensational here, and with a sense of "I know you're going to think this is gross and unbelieveable" kind of a way.
The book includes some helpful statistics like when the average boy grows the most (ages 14-15, according to the American Medical Association). The author uses a sense of humor with the book, so it's not too serious while discussing important issues. I am comfortable giving this book to my son when I think he's ready and interested. FYI - the author has a masters degree in education and human development.
The Boy's Body Book by Kelli Dunham
Aimed at boys ages 10+, this book has lots of sidebars and funny cartoon illustrations, making it easy to pick up and read on any page. It covers a lot of ground, but in a light way. It covers:
-a boy's changing body (hygiene, acne, dental/braces, drinking/smoking/drugs, sleep)
-puberty change (physical/emotional)
-outside world (school, sports safety, extra-curriculars, college, getting a job, your future)
-changes at home (types of families, getting along with parents, siblings, divorce)
-feelings (friendship skills, peer pressure, staying safe in relationships, crying, self-esteem)
Note that this book does not discuss sex and reproduction.
The author is a nurse and stand-up comic (an interesting combination!) and the book used several appropriate advisors as well, with their comments scattered in "expert" boxes throughout the book.
There is a girl's version of this book too (The Girl's Body Book) but I didn't buy/review it.
On Frisco Kids, you might also like:
Girls and Puberty: Is your daughter normal?
Getting your period in the U.S. and Africa
What books do you have and what do you recommend?