Guy Stuff: The Body Book for Boys

Book review by
Darienne Stewart, Common Sense Media
Guy Stuff: The Body Book for Boys Book Poster Image
Frank, funny boys' guide to growing up is packed with tips.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Clearly explains how and why boys' bodies change during puberty, and offers practical advice on how to handle those changes. How-to guides on flossing, de-stinking shoes, shaving, choosing skincare products, and more. Packed with easy-to-use tips on everything from controlling your temper to minimizing acne.

Positive Messages

Strongly promotes positive body image and being comfortable with one's own body, warts and all (literally!). Encourages bringing questions and concerns to trusted adults. Reinforces independence and agency in self-care, and importance of meaningful, genuine connections with others. Supports problem-solving and proactive care.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Candid narrative style reinforces idea that there's no reason to be embarrassed by your body (or talking about your body). Encourages use of anatomical terms instead of crude slang. Extensive illustrations show boys of all different shapes, sizes, and ethnicities demonstrating healthy behavior.

 

Violence & Scariness
Language

Uses anatomical terms including "penis," "testicles," and "nocturnal emissions," and occasionally includes more casual terms like "wet dreams," "pee," and "butt."

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Guy Stuff: The Body Book for Boys is a forthright guide to puberty and self-care written by pediatrician Cara Natterson. It discusses sexual development, including illustrations of changes during puberty and explanations of erections and nocturnal emissions, but it doesn't discuss sexual activity beyond a brief mention of semen's role in reproduction. The book covers a lot of territory, including good hygiene practices, moods and emotions, sports safety, nutrition, and navigating the ups and downs of puberty.

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What's the story?

GUY STUFF: THE BODY BOOK FOR BOYS is a head-to-toe guide for boys on how to care for their changing body, from fighting off funky smells to cultivating healthy habits with lifelong benefits. Chapters focus on different areas: face and hair, upper body, nutrition and body shape, major changes during puberty, lower body, fitness, sleep habits, and emotions. In addition to diagrams of genitalia and tips on brushing teeth, the book discusses less commonly explored issues such as temporary breast growth, why it hurts so much to get hit in the groin, insomnia, and the difference between confidence and arrogance.

Is it any good?

American Girl's first book for boys is a thorough, approachable guide to growing up healthy and happy that goes beyond puberty basics to discuss ideas of masculinity and the power of personal choice. Guy Stuff: The Body Book for Boys is an engaging book for boys to read solo, and an excellent ice-breaker for parents who'd like to be more comfortable talking about puberty.

Author Dr. Cara Natterson offers empathetic advice on the ups and downs of puberty, reassuring readers who might feel self-conscious about how they compare with their peers. She covers the key issues you'd expect, but she also packs in a wealth of helpful nuggets, like how to get rid of warts, how the color of your pee can show dehydration, how to hide surprise erections. Her passages on masculinity, expressing emotions, and managing moods are valuable inclusions. Charming artwork by Micah Player helps illustrate key ideas and adds a bit of whimsy to the subject matter. Lack of an index -- or more info on how girls develop, too -- are minor flaws in an otherwise stellar guide.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the tone of voice in Guy Stuff: The Body Book for Boys. Does the casual style make it easier to read -- and hopefully talk -- about subjects that might make you feel self-conscious? Is the candid language helpful? Does knowing the facts make some of this less awkward?

  • How do you feel about the way boys' and men's bodies are portrayed in movies, on TV, and in magazines? (For help, see our tips for talking with boys about body image.)

  • Do you have any questions this book didn't address? If so, ask a trusted adult to help you find the answers.

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