For nearly 20 years, parents have trusted American Girl's Care & Keeping Of™ series to help their girls understand—and talk frankly about—their physical and emotional health during adolescence. Now, for the first time, American Girl offers that same level of expertise and care in a book written for boys! From tips about basic hygiene and nutrition to clear, straightforward facts about how their bodies will change as they grow, Guy Stuff: The Body Book for Boys provides age-appropriate, accurate, and accessible information designed to educate and reassure the boys in your life.

Here, Guy Stuff author Dr. Cara Natterson—board-certified pediatrician, bestselling author of The Care and Keeping of You 2, and mom to both a teenage daughter and tween-aged son—shares her thoughts about the book and what it means for boys and their parents.

Dude factory. Testosterone

Are you ready for this thing called puberty?

Parents have asked me for years for a boy version of The Care and Keeping of You, and with good reason: boys have been left behind on this topic. For various social and cultural reasons, we don’t talk about boy puberty nearly as much as we talk about girl puberty. But boys and girls both inhabit growing bodies that need to be cared for. Boys should have access to the same kind of reliable information that girls get about how to grow up in a safe and healthy way.

We have done such a good job of educating our girls; now it’s time to educate our boys. After all, the physical management of life during puberty isn’t a boy thing or a girl thing; it’s a human thing. Kids deserve this information regardless of their gender.

You'll use this advice forever, so... you're welcome.

Guy Stuff—which encompasses physical, emotional, and social health—is appropriate for boys, starting at age 7 or 8. When it comes to information about exercise, nutrition, sleep, and hygiene, boys can (and should!) start absorbing that information as young as possible. But this book is relevant for boys of many ages: all the essentials are there, from hair care to pimple management to understanding mood swings. It also covers basic male anatomy and the hallmarks of puberty that are boy-specific (such as deepening voice and future facial hair).

Written with a unique voice and tone that appeals to boys, the book doesn’t have to be read cover-to-cover in one sitting—as kids get older, they will be more interested in different sections, or they may go back and reread parts of the book through a more mature lens. It can be a resource that boys and their parents return to time and again as part of an ongoing series of open, supportive conversations about puberty.

Puberty is sneaky

This book will give you the words to start conversations.

There are two enormous obstacles when it comes to getting boys to talk about puberty: one is socialization and the other is hormonal. The first several steps along the pubertal path for boys are somewhat hidden: boys sweat a little more and their feet get big enough to trip over, but not much else happens on the surface to prompt discussion. Further, boy puberty is dominated by testosterone, which affects boys’ moods, often making them quiet and even withdrawn. This further reinforces the socialized pattern of not talking about what is going on because boys in puberty are chemically influenced not to.

We cannot change the hormonal influences in our kids’ bodies, but we can absolutely change the social norms around conversation. And this book is an amazing icebreaker. Some kids will want to read Guy Stuff with their parents, while others will only crack it open if completely alone. Both ways work! If you have a son who is highly resistant to learning about his body, just give him the book and let him know that it’s his resource. Make sure you have already read it and tell him so—this way, when he has questions, you can jump right to the heart of the matter.

Quotes and images from Guy Stuff: The Body Book for Boys by Cara Natterson, M.D.; illustrated by Micah Player. American Girl Publishing, 2017. All rights reserved.