Book review: The Growing Up Guide for Girls

Many thanks to MrsFO5 at The Family of Five for her review of The Growing Up Guide for Girls.

I was asked to review this book by the lovely ladies over at The Adoption Social. I have 3 growing up girlsadopted daughters all of whom have a diagnosis of Autism. I actually couldn’t believe it when they asked if i’d like to write a review, because they asked the same day that Big Girl, at just 10 years old,  started her first ever period. It was meant to be!

So first of all let me tell you about the physical aspects of the book. Its a hard backed book. Decorated beautifully using colors that aren’t offensive to your eyes. The pages inside the book are thick quality, gloss finished, smooth paper and the smell is just that lovely new book smell. You may think it strange that I’ve mentioned these things but actually the feel of a page in a book is important to Middle girl, she doesn’t like textured paper, she says it ‘feels funny’.  The smell of a book is something that Baby girl notices straight away, she will avoid reading books that don’t have a pleasant smell.

Now before I start, let me just get straight to the point, I love this book, I love everything about it and its been really useful for all of the girls, and the added benefit at arriving in our lives at just the right time.

I’ve bought several books in the past to use with Big girl to prepare her for puberty and the changes that were happening to her body. Unfortunately I never found a book (until now) that I’ve been truly happy with and have found myself saying to her things like ‘don’t worry about this section, you don’t need to know about that bit yet’.  Every book I bought covers sex and how to make babies, some in vast amounts of details that even I found shocking and some with brief descriptions about confusing ‘special cuddles’ that adults have. None of which I have felt were appropriate for Big girl. Whilst Big girl is now 10 years old, her difficult start in life has meant that she is no where near as socially and emotionally developed as most typical 10 year old’s. I tell people to think aged 6 or 7, when considering Big girls needs and quite frankly the idea of a boy putting his penis inside her vagina in what ever type of fluffy special cuddle they used to describe it, would just frighten her.

I started talking to Big girl about puberty just before her 9th Birthday. She was starting to show the physical signs of development so I figured It best to make sure she was as prepared as she could be. The austim support services were able to provide us with some useful visual reminder charts and her school worker was able to spend some time talking to her about it also. But as Big girl is rather avoidant about things, whilst she sits and listens to me, I cant be sure how much she takes in. So, I bought books, quite a few of them actually, I only gave her one though and it came with instructions from me about how this section and that chapter weren’t relevant and she shouldn’t worry about them, I’m sure she read them, probably got very confused as well.

This book is like no other book I’ve come across, it is exactly what It says on the cover ‘A growing up guide for girls’. It doesn’t just cover puberty, it covers friends, crushes, the internet, it even covers stranger danger. It covers everything I think girls need to know about when entering adolescence, without filling their brains with too much complicated babble or terrifying them with things they don’t need to know about yet. I will add that the section that covers ‘Periods’ is a great section that provides you with an introduction, allowing you the opportunity to talk about this in more detail when appropriate.

As I said at the start, this book arrived at the time Big girl has started her 1st period. Whilst I’d taken every step possible to prepare her (which I’ll add seems to have done the trick, she coped remarkably),  I hadn’t prepared Baby girl or Middle girl for the changes they would see happening to Big girl.  For example, those first few days they asked ‘Why is Big girl eating sweets in the toilet?’, They could hear the rustling of packets and assumed she was eating. ‘Why is Big girl’s bedroom door shut?’ etc etc you get the picture.

So this book was a great opportunity for me to introduce them to puberty and adolescence in a very basic and age appropriate way for them. There was an interesting moment when reading the section on ‘breasts’ that Baby girl very innocently asked me ‘whats tits?’, poor Daddy nearly choked on his tea. After reading the whole book with Baby girl and Middle girl and answering the very few questions they had, I passed the book to Big girl. She read it, cover to cover, I doubt there was much in there she didn’t already know, but I’m confident it served as a great reminder for her without being too overwhelming. Her reply as she handed me the book back was ‘I like the idea of puppy fat’. You’ll just have to read the book yourself to see what she was talking about!

I’m sure this book will be one that will be revisited by us over and over again, with 3 girls in the house there will be times when we need to talk about all of the sections in this book, from boobs, hygiene and crushes, to friendships and internet safety, It really does cover so much. I’d strongly recommend this book to anyone who has girls entering adolescence, autistic or not. Although there is mention of autism within the book, I think the bulk of the book would be useful for any girl. In fact I think it would be great if they published a ‘general’ version that excluded the few references to Autism. Its a must have for any girl aged 7 upwards I feel.

My only regret with this book, is that we didn’t find it sooner, I could have saved a fortune on books!

The Family of Five did not receive payment for this book, although did receive the book free of charge in order to review it. Click here to buy the book.

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