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Growing up & Becoming Independent: 5 Handy Books For Pre-Teens (and Their Parents)

BooksforTopics Reading for Pleasure Recommendations

Navigating with the ups and downs of growing up is no easy task. From puberty and periods to fashion and fitting in, there’s so much to think about for young people learning how to handle increasing independence as they go into their teenage years.

We’ve picked out five of our favourite new titles that are designed to help young people and their parents navigate the tricky world of growing up. As well as being handy guides for pre-teens and teens, these books are excellent for parents to read too to facilitate helpful conversations around these topics at home.

1. Dosh: How to Earn It, Save It, Spend It, Grow It, Give It

Rashmi Sirdeshpande & Adam Hayes

Available here

Having good money sense is an essential lifeskill, but too many people reach adulthood before they understand many of its key concepts. Dosh is a comprehensive handbook for young people, including an overview of the history of money, a practical guide to how money works in the modern world (I learnt quite a few things about cryptocurrencies….did you know that Bitcoin has to be mined, a bit like gold?) as well as some hands-on money tips for young people both now and later in life. Concepts are explained systematically in an informal, easy-to-understand way, accompanied by cartoon-style illustrations and diagrams.

I particularly liked the inclusion of a chapter about giving money at the end of the book, which encourages generosity and also offers a balanced approach to knowing which causes or charities to support and how to decide how much to give. It also covers spending and investing in socially responsible ways and offers a hall of fame of celebrities who’ve set examples.

DOSH provides an important introduction to the world of money, recommended for children aged 9+ to dip in and out of for a general interest read as well as to keep on hand for ongoing reference through their teen years and beyond.

Publisher: Wren & Rook

Publication Date: August 2020

You can order DOSH online or from your local bookshop.

2. Welcome to Your Period

Yumi Stynes, Dr Melissa Kang & Jenny Latham

Available here

A friendly and frank guide to starting your period, learning how to manage it and dealing with associated emotions and choices.

This little guide is packed with advice and insights, from the science behind what happens to the body during a period to what PMS feel like and how to keep good personal hygiene. Pitched for pre-teens, the book addresses common anxieties through case studies and Q&A from real teens and experts.


“I hope young girls use the book to feel armed and empowered and confident to take it on,” says the writer on her aims for the book. The books certainly does hit the right tone to validate common worries, scientifically inform and positively reassure young readers about the emotional and physical challenges associated with dealing with periods.

The guide is heavily illustrated with eye-catching illustrations by Jennifer Latham, displaying helpful diagrams and illustrations showing a diversity of body types. The book also includes a shopping guide for making a period pack and tips for managing periods during sports, swimming or sleepovers.

Publisher: Stripes

Publication date: 3rd Sept 2020

NB: This book is aimed at readers aged 9+, but as it contains details about puberty and sex, we recommend that parents or carers read this first to assess suitability for individual children.

You can order Welcome to Your Period online or from yourlocal bookshop.

3. The Body Image Book for Girls

Charlotte Markey

Available here

Published by Cambridge University Press, this is an evidence-based body image book that gives the feel of an academic text book for teens, with unit style chapters to work through. The book offers a comprehensive guide to body image, with an emphasis on the psychology of body image and practical ways to nurture physical and mental health.

At over 200 pages, The Body Image Book For Girls is almost encyclopaedic in scope and covers topics including puberty, media influence, use of cosmetics, nourishment, dieting, exercise and self-care. The book encourages young readers to dig deeper into the topic and to invest in long term physical and mental changes that affect body image.


The glossary and full index at the back make this a suitable book for readers to dip into or search for particular topics as they become relevant. The book would suit readers who appreciate reliable and science-based information in a straight-forward, un-opinionated style.

Understanding and knowing how to go about developing a positive body image will benefit young readers through puberty and into adulthood, and this book provides a reliable foundation for that understanding to grow.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press

Publication date: 30th September 2020

NB: This book is aimed at readers aged 9+, but as it contains details about puberty and sex, we recommend that parents or carers read this first to assess suitability for individual children.

You can order The Body Image Book For Girls online or from yourlocal bookshop.

4. Dare To Be You

Matthew Syed, Kathy Weeks & Toby Triumph

Available here

From the bestselling, award-winning author of the hugely popular You Are Awesome, comes the much-anticipated follow-up, Dare to Be You.

Confidence and self-belief are big topics for pre-teens grappling with body changes and – this year more than ever- a seemingly ever-changing world that can knock even the most confident of children. In Dare To Be You, former table tennis champ turned Times journalist Matthew Syed explores how the right mindset can ease anxieties, kick-start self-belief and breed resilience in the face of life’s ups and downs.



Highly illustrated and written in a humorous and relatable style, the book draws on the author’s real life examples of bouncing back from life’s knock downs (such as the time he nearly burned down a bakery or turned up at an important table tennis tournament without an essential piece of kit). Syed encourages young readers to stop worrying about fitting in, find supportive friends, conquer self doubt, embrace change with a positive mindset and – pleasingly – to harness the power of kindness.

Syed is a positive role model with a voice to cut through the crowd for 9-13 year olds, offering a dose of motivation and positive mindset coaching in an humorous and appealing package.

Publisher: Wren & Rook

Publication date: 3rd September 2020

You can order You Are Awesome online or from yourlocal bookshop.

5. Fashion Conscious

Sarah Klymkiw and Kim Hankinson

Available here

Most fashion-conscious young people will have heard of the term sustainable fashion, but with such a sea of information available it can be hard to know which aspects are relevant to individuals. For young readers hitting the age where they are starting to make their own decisions about buying clothing, this is a practical and accessible guide to becoming a conscious consumer while developing individual fashion sense.

The book educates readers on the life cycle of clothing, laying out the huge amount of labour involved in each stage from growing and harvesting cotton through to selling the garment in a shop. Typically a single t-shirt passes though at least 100 pairs of hands in production before even being tried on, and can often have travelled thousands of miles too.

While recognising the importance of fashion and the role it plays in individual expression, the authors explain the human and environmental ethical implications of the ‘fast fashion’ industry and then gives a toolkit of ethical ways to be fashion conscious. Readers will learn how to make decisions when shopping, to check labels and fabrics, to wash clothes well and to ‘make do and mend’ or upcycle old clothing. There’s also a handy history of fashion to put modern consumer habits into context.

This is an informative and empowering guide book for children who are now old enough to take responsibility for their own decisions when choosing and buying clothes.

Publisher: Egmont

Publication date: 20th August 2020

You can order Fashion Conscious online or from yourlocal bookshop.


‘Growing Up Books’ display poster for classrooms and school libraries: Download a copy of this poster here.

Thank you to the publishers of these titles for sending us review copies .

Check out our top 8 middle-grade books for the Autumn term, too!


Where next?

> Visit our Reading for Pleasure Hub

> Browse our Topic booklists

> View our printable year group booklists

> See our Books of the Month.

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