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Welcome to the Horn Book's Family Reading blog, a place devoted to offering children's book recommendations and advice about the whats and whens and whos and hows of sharing books in the home. Find us on Twitter @HornBook and on Facebook at

Five Questions for Mayim Bialik

You may know Mayim Bialik as one of the stars of The Big Bang Theory. Or as Blossom. Or as young Bette Midler in Beaches (*sob!*). Or as a real-life neuroscientist. Or a blogger. Or a mother. Or a *Jewish* mother! Or, now, as a YA nonfiction author of Girling Up!: How to Be Strong, Smart, and Spectacular. Family Reading asked the multi-hyphenate Five Questions about books, reading, internet echo chambers, gender roles, and of course, “Girling Up.”

1. Girling Up covers so much ground: puberty/biology, social-emotional health, media literacy, education, just to name a few topics! How did you decide what to write about, and how did you do your research?

MB: ​I wrote about all of the things that make up the experience of being female and left very little out! I wanted to write a book that covered everything as opposed to assuming girls will want to have a book for every topic of their development. I needed this book as a kid and I based the structure on a few books from my childhood that​ came close.

As for research, as a neuroscientist, a lot of the science is just stuff I was trained to know about. And as someone who worked in the field of neuropsychology — and as someone who has been in therapy for a long time — I spoke from a lot of experience and research experience. I am a keen observer, I guess, and it came in handy for this book!

2. When you’re dealing with a subject as nuanced and complicated as sex (biological) and gender, how do you avoid overgeneralizing?

MB: I hope I avoided doing so…but it’s hard. I wanted to not get “political” in this book but speak from a scientific and matter-of-fact perspective. Girls need to know what is being discussed before they can even start to form opinions. I wanted to speak from my experience and that of so many women who don’t “fit the mold.”

3. The aim of your blog, GrokNation, is to bring people of different backgrounds — and maybe differing viewpoints — together in conversation. The internet can be such an echo chamber or full of extreme virulence. Has your site had successful discussions around dissenting viewpoints?

MB: I think we have! My YouTube channel seeks to do that on an even larger scale. I think we have lost the notion of empathy in this culture. We want to bring it back: understanding others’ opinions even if they are not your own is so important!

4. We started The Horn Book’s Family Reading blog as a place to highlight the reading habits of all types of families (we use both terms reading and families in the broadest possible sense). Does your family have any favorite books/reading traditions/special memories around reading?

MB: So many! My father was a book collector and I am too. I raised my boys on a lot of the books my parents had as children, and the ones I was raised on are still my favorites. I am not a tremendous collector of a lot of “modern” kids’ books, to be honest. I love classics like Millions of Cats, Caps for Sale, Frog and Toad, George and Martha. Books like Where the Wild Things Are and Harold and the Purple Crayon continue to touch us even as my boys get older. These are rich books with so much to offer, even though they are not as “flashy” as some books today.

5. What’s one thing you would tell your younger self about “Girling Up”?

MB: You know yourself best. The more knowledge you have about you, the more you can use that to your advantage to take on the world!

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