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Adolescence and sexuality

Bialik, Mayim  Girling Up: How to Be Strong, Smart and Spectacular
Middle school, high school     179 pp.     Philomel

This volume covers changing anatomy, physical and emotional development, common setbacks, and the importance of mindfulness and responsible decision-making on the journey from child to young woman. Scientist/actor Bialik’s breezy yet intimate voice addresses readers directly, and she shares both positive and negative personal experiences, underscoring her reassuring message that this wide range of physical changes and emotions is all perfectly normal.
Subjects: Adolescence; Puberty; Women; Gender roles

Bloom, Naama  Helloflo: The Guide, Period.
Gr. 4–6     161 pp.     Dutton

Illustrated by Fleur Sciortino. The founder of a commercial women’s health website for adults presents an approachable guide to puberty aimed at preteen girls. A tight focus on bodily changes and hygiene make this slim volume easy to hand to younger readers. However, the tone of Bloom’s voice — veering from playful and slangy to clinical to patronizing — may be somewhat off-putting. Color illustrations, diagrams, sidebars, and testimonials round out the presentation.
Subjects: Medicine, Human Body, and Diseases; Hygiene; Puberty; Women

Harris, Robie H.  It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health
Gr. 4–6     99 pp.     Candlewick

Illustrated by Michael Emberley. New ed., 1994. The original Horn Book review described this invaluable resource as an “unassuming, coherent, comprehensive explanation of sex in all its complicated glory.” The frank and nonjudgmental discussion is illustrated with anatomically correct cartoon drawings. This twentieth-anniversary edition includes a broader definition of gender; expanded information about using the internet; and updated information about contraception, abortion, sexual abuse, and STDs, including HIV/AIDS. Ind.
Subjects: Families, Children, and Sexuality; Human body; Babies; Pregnancy; Diseases—Sexually transmitted diseases

Harris, Robie H.  It’s So Amazing!: A Book About Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies, and Families
Gr. K–3     82 pp.     Candlewick

Illustrated by Michael Emberley. New ed., 1999. Celebrating our bodies and our sexuality for younger readers, this frank and nonjudgmental discussion is illustrated with anatomically correct cartoon drawings. The fifteenth-anniversary edition of this invaluable resource is Harris and Emberley’s laudable attempt to keep the content “as up-to-date and accurate as possible.” The updated text and art include a broader definition of gender and expanded information about using the internet. Ind.
Subjects: Families, Children, and Sexuality; Human body—Reproductive system; Babies; Birth; Pregnancy

Higginbotham, Anastasia  Tell Me About Sex, Grandma
Gr. K–3     64 pp.     Feminist

Ordinary Terrible Things series. A child who sees references to sex everywhere comes to Grandma for the skinny. Grandma has all the right answers (“Curiosity about sex is your birthright”; one’s sexuality “belongs to no one else but you”) as well as a sense of humor. As always with this series (including Death Is Stupid), the rough-hewn collage art makes clear that the book approaches the topic unsentimentally.
Subjects: Families, Children, and Sexuality; Family—Grandmothers

Wittenstein, Vicki Oransky  Reproductive Rights: Who Decides?
Middle school, high school     160 pp.     Twenty-First Century

This history of reproductive rights in America begins with a survey of early birth control practices and abortion worldwide, starting in ancient times; from there, Wittenstein describes the political, religious, scientific, and social changes, from colonial America to the present. The somewhat dull, textbooklike presentation may discourage some teens, although the information is readable, current, and interesting. Reading list, timeline, websites. Bib., glos., ind.
Subjects: Social Issues; Human body—Reproductive system; Women’s rights; Birth control; Sexuality

From the May 2018 issue of Nonfiction Notes from the Horn Book.

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Comments

  1. Emily Goodman says:

    Adding some more titles to the list: The Period Book: A Girl’s Guide to Growing Up, by Karen Gravelle, illustrated by Debbie Palen (Bloomsbury, 1996 and 2017), and What’s Going On Down There? A Boy’s Guide to Growing Up, by Karen Gravelle, illustrated by Robert Leighton (Bloomsbury, 1998 and 2017).

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