6 Books to Help You Talk to Your Kids about Growing Up


Okay, so this might seem like a weird thing to share on our blog. A food blog. But we’re all friends, right? I mean, some of you have been with us since the very beginning, since our oldest kids were babies and toddlers. And since we’re friends, and since friends talk about stuff, I wanted to share some finds I’ve made that I think are really fantastic. Even if it’s awkward. Because that’s what friends do.

Yep. We’re talking about how to talk to your kids about growing up. I have a 12-year-old son and a 10-year-old daughter, so we’ve suddenly found ourselves in the middle of all that and these books have helped start conversations (even if some of those conversations take place back and forth in “secret” notebooks) and help them make these transitions easier.

  1. The Manual to Middle School: The “Do This, Not That” Survival Guide for Guys. I snagged this one because my son is heading to junior high. He’s nervous and excited (and, let’s be honest, so am I). This one doesn’t handle the biological side of things so much as it does everyday (and not-so-everyday) situations including personal hygiene, bathroom etiquette, cell phones, bullies, cologne (i.e. you don’t have to soak yourself in Axe body spray), parents, PDA, respect, stealing, and zombies (of course). It’s funny and straightforward and talks to them on their level and is organized in a way that’s easy to use as a reference.
  2. The Care and Keeping of You (Book 1 and Book 2). These books (from American Girls) have kind of been the gold standard for girls for a long time, and there’s a reason why. It explains changes in an honest, non-scary, age-approriate way using correct terminology. At first, my daughter felt really awkward reading about it, but it helped open the door to some conversations. The first book is a good jumping off point for girls starting around age 8 and covers physical changes as well as personal care and grooming, food, nutrition, fitness, safety, and feelings. The second book is for older girls (about 10 and up) and goes into a little more detail, especially concerning feminine hygiene products, shaving, makeup, etc. Both books are very age appropriate and share information while leaving final responsibility/decisions to girls and their parents. This book helped reinforce the things I was trying to teach my daughter (like WASH YOUR FACE, PLEASE!) and for whatever reason, that seemed to be what helped get her into a good routine.
  3. Is This Normal? This book for girls is also from American Girls and addresses questions your daughter might be too embarrassed to ask; it’s a great companion to the Care and Keeping of You books.
  4. The Boy’s Body Book. This was written by an RN and covers the physical, social, and emotional changes that boys experience as they get older. It explains the biology behind it in very “no big deal” terms, plus addresses topics like parents, mood swings, acne, internet safety, and lots of other great topics.
  5. The Boys’ Book of Survival: How to Survive Anything, Anywhere. This book actually has nothing to do with becoming a teenager, but my son kind of loves it. It’s funny and informative and full of information on how to make a compass using the sun, first aid, and how to survive a zombie apocalypse. And, really, it’s not just for boys–my daughter finds it equally entertaining.

I hope this gives you some ideas on how to manage this new and kind of scary phase of life. May the odds be ever in our favor!

This post is not sponsored but does contain affiliate links. 


  1. Great post! I just went to Amazon to read more reviews about the American Girl books, and found only a couple of negative ones that made me think… I was wondering if you ever felt the same way as this reviewer– that the book tends to suggest that a girl would or even should be ashamed or embarrassed by her body. Here’s an example she gives:

    My daughter has a beautiful speckling of freckles across her nose. Most people around her have commented that they love them. SHE loves them. She said to me a few months ago that she wished she had MORE freckles. In this book, on page 36: “I have freckles. I hate them and wish I could get some lotion that would make my freckles go away. I need help!” While she loves her freckles, I could see reading this she may start to question how she feels about them. I could imagine her thinking, “Wait, are freckles considered to be ugly?”

    This reviewer gives a couple more examples along the same lines. Just wondering if you think this is an issue at all. It’s so tricky teaching our girls to love their bodies!

    1. I didn’t have an issue with that–I think it’s more about helping girls realize they might not be alone about things they don’t like and that’s normal, you know? Like, I remember being a teenager and someone reading an article about thigh chafing during exercise and she was like, “Ew, yuck!” And I thought, “Hey, my thighs touch! YOUR thighs touch! Are we gross???” But seeing more articles like that made me realize that I might not love it, but it’s super normal for women, and it can be something I don’t have to hate. Am I making sense?

      P.S. If my kids, especially my youngest son, hated their freckles, I would be so sad. ?

      1. Okay yes, that does make sense. Thank you! And yes, I would be super sad if one of my kids hated their adorable freckles! My daughter was born with a port wine stain on her leg. It’s not very dark, but it covers her entire leg and it looks sort of red and splotchy. The funny thing is, she’s seven and hasn’t even noticed it yet hahaha! Just the other day she noticed my little birthmark and asked me if she had one. I hope she never feels self-conscious about it. 🙂

  2. This is a great post! I am so glad you shared, because us moms need to stick together. I so appreciate these recommendations!

  3. I’ve loved the American girl books for my 13 year old daughter. I’ve been trying to find a book for my 10 year old son. These look perfect!
    Another book I and my daughter have loved is called Growing Up by Brad Wilcox. He’s an lds author. This book is funny, easy to read. It teaches the churches stance on sexually relationships without shaming if a mistake is made. Talks a lot about repentance and the gift of the atonement. I really loved it and so did my daughter!

    1. I was just about to type all this and saw that Ann did already! Yes, Brad Wilcox taught the 5th grade “growing up” class at our school and it was funny and informative and not awkward. He addresses the important things and the book is helpful in case there are any questions that came from the presentation or if you don’t get to hear him give it in person. My son loved it too. I will have to check out some of these other books as well. It’s nice to have an arsenal to be prepared for questions that arise and talks that need to happen sooner than later. It’s soooo important for our kids to feel like they can talk to us about all of this. 🙂

  4. Me!!! I’ve been with you from the beginning 🙂 and we have the American girl care and keeping of you (1 and 2) so I’m ordering the third now. I’ve found those books to be good at keeping everything just normal stuff. And ya … you guys are totally my friends even though we’ve only briefly met 🙂

  5. We have loved having the American Girl books in our house. My girls each have a copy and they tell me they refer to it still from time to time (ages 16 and 14). But my son is just getting to the age where we need to have theses conversations so I’m so grateful for the references! Thank you!!!

  6. The American girl books were my go-to with my girls, now ages 12-14. They have read and re-read them! But my son just turned 10, and I had no idea where to turn (I grew up in a family of all girls). Thanks for the tip! I’ll be ordering those soon.

  7. I’m with Heather, mine is turning 5 at the end of the month but he’s already asking about babies and bodily functions so I’m keeping this list in my back pocket for future reference. Thank you!

  8. While we’re on the subject, anyone looking for a great book to use to talk to your kids about pornography, Good Pictures, Bad Pictures is fabulous. It teaches the physiology (neurology?) behind what happens in our brains when we see pornography, in ways that are very understandable for younger children (we start at age 8), how to identify pornography, and a step-by-step plan for what to do when you see it (because we all know it’s not if, but when).

    1. Thank you! I had not seen that before. Just ordered on Amazon! I have the other 6 books above and agree all are great! Robie Harris’ series starting with “It’s So Amazing” is very good when ready to discuss sexual specifics.

    2. Man, this stopped me in my tracks. The only pornography when I was a kid was my uncle’s Playboys, which we would sneak and giggle over when we were babysitting. That was really tame, but I hate to think about kids now being able to easily find really foul and/or violent stuff that could screw them up good. Thanks for the book suggestion.

  9. I’m still years away from this stage, but I’m going to bookmark this page because I love the recommendations. Even though my little guy is only 2, I often think about middle school and how to prepare him for . . . everything!

    1. My little man is 2 as well and I love getting this information now. I’ll know where to refer to when the time comes. The books may be old when we eventually need them but I’m sure the content will still be relevant. It’s amazing how mom’s think alike. 🙂

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