Growing Up Great!: The Ultimate Puberty Book for Boys

Book review by
Mandie Caroll, Common Sense Media
Growing Up Great!: The Ultimate Puberty Book for Boys Book Poster Image
Encouraging puberty guide covers emotional growth, too.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Definitions of terms, explanations of ideas, and illustrations related to puberty and boys bodies (what puberty is, body changes, parts of genitals, hormones, etc.). Arousal, masturbation, and intercourse defined and explained briefly.

Positive Messages

Puberty doesn't have to be scary or embarrassing. How your body grows is the way that’s right for you. Don't compare your body to other bodies; bodies are just different and that's ok. Respect yourself and others. Exercise and mindfulness helps emotions and the body. Boys have feelings and can to learn to respond to them in healthy ways. Communication is key to healthy relationships.

Positive Role Models & Representations

There are not characters in this nonfiction book, but illustrations show boys of various shapes, heights, skin tones and hairstyles, engaging in self-care practices, sports, friendships, etc. Pictures generally do not picture large or fat bodies, and, with the exception of a couple of longhaired boys, there's not a lot of variance in terms of gender presentation.  

Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Growing Up Great! The Ultimate Puberty Book for Boys, by Scott Todnem, is an encouraging guide to puberty for boy tweens. Covering how to care for a changing body, below the belt, feeding and fueling your body, family, friendships, and feelings, this age-appropriate guide will help growing readers understand and respect their body. It defines terms, explains concepts, and is full of illustrations. The conversational text emphasizes that puberty doesn't have to be scary or embarrassing, expressing emotions is healthy, and that you shouldn't compare your body to other bodies because we all grow and develop differently, and that's OK! The book briefly discusses, in an age-appropriate way, arousal, masturbation, sexual intercourse, crushes, and romantic relationships. Illustrations show boys of different shapes, skin colors, and hairstyles engaged in a variety of self-care practices, activities, friendships, etc. Parents can trust this book for accurate information and encouraging messages for boys ages 8-12.

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What's the story?

After an introduction from the author, the first chapter previews the major aspects of puberty for boys and establishes that though all boys go through puberty, genes determine how you grow (fast, slow, big, small, etc.), and no matter how you develop, your body is pretty great. Subsequent chapters maintain the compassionate tone while elaborating on the preview in Chapter 1. Topics covered include how a boy's body changes, underwear options, parts of boy's genitals, self-care (physical and emotional), privacy and consent, managing emotions and how to navigate peer pressure, friendships and family dynamics. A glossary, resources list, and a reference list provide a jumping off point for more learning and exploration.

Is it any good?

This puberty book for boys is an engaging, funny, and comprehensive guide for tween boys. Unlike other puberty books that focus on body changes, author-educator Scott Todnem takes a whole person approach to physical, emotional, and mental health. Its informal and upbeat tone will pull readers in and there's lots of clear, science-based information. Unlike its companion book for girls (Celebrate Your Body (and Its Changes, Too!)), Celebrate Your Body, Growing Up Great! briefly and age appropriately covers masturbation, sex, crushes, and romantic relationships. Boys will be able to see themselves reflected in the illustrations, which portray boys of many shapes, skin colors, hair styles, and gender expressions.

Areas of concern include no mention of gender identity (trans or nonbinary genders), and the illustrations don't capture the full range of body diversity: There are some "stocky" boys, but none are large or fat. Finally, reproduction is defined as the "act of a man and a woman creating new life," which might cause raised eyebrows in readers with same-gender or single parents who relied on donor sperm/eggs to create a family. But the rest of the book uses inclusive language and generally avoids presuming heterosexuality. Critiques aside, the confidence-boosting focus of this book and its accurate information make this a wonderful go-to source for boys entering puberty. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Growing Up Great! talks about bodies. What causes bodies to develop differently? What kind of messages do you get about your body and the bodies of other boys? Do you feel the way you want to feel about your growing body? How can the adults in your life help you feel good about puberty and your body?

  • How is this book the same and different from other puberty books you've read or information you've learned about puberty at school or elsewhere?

  • Talk about the suggestions for managing intense feelings. Which of the mindfulness or coping skills have you tried, or do you want to try? What (or who) helps you work through big feelings?

Book details

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