Parents' Guide to

What's Going on Down There? A Boy's Guide to Growing Up

By Darienne Stewart, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 9+

Modern update improves empowering sex ed classic.

What's Going on Down There? A Boy's Guide to Growing Up Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 12+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 11+


Details everything about sex and masturbating
age 12+

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (2 ):
Kids say: Not yet rated

The sexual landscape has shifted since Karen Gravelle first published this book for boys in 1998, and her welcome revision speaks to current concerns about social media, harassment, and body image. The frankness of What's Going on Down There? may prompt some blushing, but boys will be relieved to see so many of their common worries addressed. Gravelle goes beyond anatomical basics to explain why sexual harassment is a concern for everyone, to discuss the importance of the HPV vaccine, and to debunk myths about penis size and masturbation.

Overall, the breadth and detail make this an excellent choice. But it makes a major misstep: A collection of men's thoughts on what they wished they knew as boys includes a quote about being "a lot more aggressive with girls," and another that says "what [girls] say isn't always what they mean." Coming at the end of the book, these comments undermine earlier messages about consent and respecting the wishes of others.

Book Details

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