This book review comes courtesy of @methreeandhe – The growing up book for boys by Davida Hartman.
I have a 13 year old boy who was adopted by us at the age of 6. Although he is not autistic, his attachment difficulties mean that he is emotionally young, struggles to recognise social clues and is very black and white in his thinking. Although this book is aimed at boys on the autistic spectrum, I am aware of some similarities between attachment and autism and was interested to read it myself and for my son to read it. We have a very open approach to all things “personal” in our family with any question answered, yet there is always room for extra resources, if only to save me repeating myself.
I read the book from the beginning, although that is not necessary as the topics can be dipped into as required. What struck me was that it was full of advice that I find myself giving on a daily basis. Matters of hygiene, everyone is growing at different speeds, choose friends who are nice to you. It was good to have a book that reinforces our home messages about adolescence and gives another positive message rather than the variable ones heard on the playground.
The book is hard backed with illustrations facing every page of writing. It is divided into 14 very practical topics; bodies, hair, boy stuff, penises, hygiene, clothes, skin, emotions, crushes, friends, the internet, self protection, self acceptance, girls. Each topic is detailed in a clear way over two pages of text and two of illustrations. Often the first page of the topic details what is happening, the second page is saying what you can do to help yourself. It is written with one sentence per paragraph which I personally found quite annoying as it disrupted the flow of the text, however I do understand that for some of the young people the book is aimed at, this would help them to read it more easily.
The book has been billed for 9-14 year olds and I can see that boys of this age group would benefit from having a copy. For younger boys it would give them early information that they can revisit later, for older boys I think it will help to reinforce many of the good messages that they hear from their parents and answer some questions that they have become embarrassed to ask because they believe that they should already know the answers.
The book gives advice about appropriateness of information sharing, personal subjects and when/who to speak about them. There is a lot of practical information, such as putting a checklist in the shower to make sure you have done everything, putting your sheets in the wash if you have a wet dream, sitting down if you get an erection in public! Whilst much of the advice is encouraging independence and responsibility, the book often suggests that the boy speaks to their parents if they are worried or concerned about anything and encourages communication with people who can help.
The back of the book has a section with advice for parents and professionals on how to use the book, again encouraging communication.
I found it a delightful book to read, the illustration are great, especially the page of different penises! As a parent I found it affirming that I have been giving similar information and advice to my son. I am very happy for him to have the book to use for himself, there is some resistance to reading it but I think that is more about alternatives to reading, like computer games, than the book itself.
@methreeandhe was not paid for this honest review, but did receive a free copy of the book to review, and subsequently keep. Click here to buy the book.