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PSHE: Taking the scary out of adolescence and all that it entails for both sexes

The change from childhood to adulthood is a confusing time. The body makes a number of remarkable transformations, and these can be bewildering and sometimes frightening. It is not surprising that children have lots of questions and that they feel uncomfortable asking them. This is also the time that self-confidence can be unstable.

Perhaps a well-written book that addresses growing-up concerns would help.

The book would be sensitive, it wouldn't patronise, it would offer comfort and advice and it would be easy to read. Look no further: the What's Happening to Me? books are nothing short of brilliant. They aim to help children aged nine and above understand bodily changes and they do this extremely well.

Susan Meredith answers the questions young girls want to ask but might feel afraid to. It's all there: getting measured up for a bra, periods, using towels and tampons, feelings, diet, health and hygiene and there is also a section on what happens to boys.

The text is informal, chatty, full of useful facts and packed with considerate advice and support. A book like this wouldn't work as well without graphics and diagrams, and the illustrations are colourful and engaging as well as informative.

The equivalent book for boys is also written to a high standard and has reassuring advice. There's information about voice breaking, getting hairy, dealing with spots, shaving, genital size, wet dreams, feelings, healthy eating and exercise, keeping clean, and what happens to girls.

Adolescent boys will find this book answers a lot of their questions and helps them to worry less about the changes taking over their bodies.

Reading these books will help young people to become more self-assured and feel more comfortable talking about their concerns

John Dabell is a numeracy consultant and teacher trainer

What's Happening to Me? (girls' edition) What's Happening to Me? (boys' edition) By Alex Frith. Illustrated by Nancy Leschnikoff. Usborne Publishing. pound;6.99 each


For nine-plus

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