Last week, I tweeted asking readers for their favorite middle grade books about periods and puberty and I got a ton of recommendations — both fiction and non-fiction.
What are your favorite middle grade books about periods, puberty, and growing up?— Afoma (Reading Middle Grade) (@readingMG) February 21, 2022
In today’s list, I’m sharing some of the best middle grade books about periods and puberty (fiction only). I’ll be sure to add some of the non-fiction books to our list of top middle grade non-fiction picks. If you’ve been dying to read about tweens getting their periods, dealing with puberty and bodily changes, this is the list for you.
Best Middle Grade Books About Periods and Puberty
Here are 17 of the best middle grade books about periods and puberty:
Grow Up, Tahlia Wilkins
Published: April 19, 2022
Twelve-year-old Tahlia Wilkins is ready to kick off the perfect summer at the popular kid’s pool party. But when the Red Goddess of Panties, aka her first period, arrives 24 hours before the pool party, it messes up all her plans. To make matters worse, her mom is out of town, and there’s no way she’s going to ask her dad for help! Tahlia always feared that growing up would be tough, but this is just not fair.
In order to save herself from total embarrassment, it will take all of Tahlia and her best friend Lily’s scheming to keep her reputation—and her favorite jeans—from being ruined. Sneak off to the grocery store only to have the clerk price check your “goods” over the loudspeaker? Check. Trick your mature teenage neighbor into letting you use her bathroom to ‘rehome’ some tampons? Check. Take a dip into a fountain to ‘borrow’ some quarters for a bathroom period product dispenser? Check, check, check!
Published: February 22, 2022
Seventh grader Aafiyah loves playing tennis, reading Weird but True facts, and hanging out with her best friend, Zaina. However, Aafiyah has a bad habit that troubles her—she’s drawn to pretty things and can’t help but occasionally “borrow” them.
But when her father is falsely accused of a crime he hasn’t committed and gets taken in by authorities, Aafiyah knows she needs to do something to help. When she brainstorms a way to bring her father back, she turns to her Weird but True facts and devises the perfect plan.
But what if her plan means giving in to her bad habit, the one she’s been trying to stop? Aafiyah wants to reunite her family but finds that maybe her plan isn’t so perfect after all. . .
Revenge of the Red Club
Published: October 22, 2019
A tween reporter discovers an important and beloved club at school is being shut down—and uses the power of the pen to try and activate some much-needed social change in this period-positive and empowering middle grade novel about the importance of standing up for what you believe in.
Riley Dunne loves being a member of the Red Club. It’s more than a group of girls supporting each other through Aunt Flo’s ups and downs; it’s a Hawking Middle School tradition. The club’s secret locker has an emergency stash of supplies, and the girls are always willing to lend an ear, a shoulder, or an old pair of sweatpants.
But when the school administration shuts the Red Club down because of complaints, the girls are stunned. Who would do that to them? The girls’ shock quickly turns into anger, and then they decide to get even.
But wallpapering the gym with maxi pads and making tampon crafts in art class won’t bring their club back. Only Riley can do that. Using the skills she has cultivated as her school paper’s top investigative reporter (okay, only investigative reporter), she digs for the truth about who shut the club down and why. All the while dealing with friendship drama, a new and ridiculous dress code, and a support group that is now more focused on fighting with each other than fighting back.
Can she save the Red Club before this rebellion turns into a full-scale war?
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret
Published: April 29, 2014
Margaret shares her secrets and her spirituality in this iconic Judy Blume novel, beloved by millions, that now has a fresh new look.
Margaret Simon, almost twelve, likes long hair, tuna fish, the smell of rain, and things that are pink. She’s just moved from New York City to Farbook, New Jersey, and is anxious to fit in with her new friends—Nancy, Gretchen, and Janie. When they form a secret club to talk about private subjects like boys, bras, and getting their first periods, Margaret is happy to belong.
But none of them can believe Margaret doesn’t have religion, and that she isn’t going to the Y or the Jewish Community Center. What they don’t know is Margaret has her own very special relationship with God. She can talk to God about everything—family, friends, even Moose Freed, her secret crush.
Margaret is funny and real, and her thoughts and feelings are oh-so-relatable—you’ll feel like she’s talking right to you, sharing her secrets with a friend.
The Last One in the Universe
Published: October 1, 2019
Hazel’s friends are super cool, but she feels like a fraud. She doesn’t have her period yet and she’s never been kissed, and she’s not confident or pretty like her friends are, either! So what should she do about her crush on Leo, who’s sweet and funny but in the year above? Maybe it’s time to take matters into her own hands.
Other Words for Home
Published: May 28, 2019
A gorgeously written, hopeful middle grade novel in verse about a young girl who must leave Syria to move to the United States, perfect for fans of Jason Reynolds and Aisha Saeed.
Jude never thought she’d be leaving her beloved older brother and father behind, all the way across the ocean in Syria. But when things in her hometown start becoming volatile, Jude and her mother are sent to live in Cincinnati with relatives.
At first, everything in America seems too fast and too loud. The American movies that Jude has always loved haven’t quite prepared her for starting school in the US—and her new label of “Middle Eastern,” an identity she’s never known before.
But this life also brings unexpected surprises—there are new friends, a whole new family, and a school musical that Jude might just try out for. Maybe America, too, is a place where Jude can be seen as she really is.
Reckless, Glorious, Girl
Published: February 23, 2021
Beatrice Miller may have a granny’s name (her granny’s, to be more specific), but she adores her Mamaw and her mom, who give her every bit of wisdom and love they have. But the summer before seventh grade, Bea wants more than she has, aches for what she can’t have, and wonders what the future will bring.
This novel in verse follows Beatrice through the ups and downs of friendships, puberty, and identity as she asks: Who am I? Who will I become? And will my outside ever match the way I feel on the inside?
A gorgeous, inter-generational story of Southern women and a girl’s path blossoming into her sense of self, Reckless, Glorious, Girl explores the important questions we all ask as we race toward growing up.
Taking Up Space
Published: May 18, 2021
Sarah loves basketball more than anything. Crushing it on the court makes her feel like she matters. And it’s the only thing that helps her ignore how much it hurts when her mom forgets to feed her.
But lately Sarah can’t even play basketball right. She’s slower now and missing shots she should be able to make. Her body doesn’t feel like it’s her own anymore. She’s worried that changing herself back to how she used to be is the only way she can take control over what’s happening.
When Sarah’s crush asks her to be partners in a cooking competition, she feels pulled in a million directions. She’ll have to dig deep to stand up for what she needs at home, be honest with her best friends, and accept that she doesn’t need to change to feel good about herself.
Related: Alyson Gerber on Taking Up Space
Planet Middle School
Published: September 13, 2011
For twelve years, Joylin Johnson’s life has been just fine. A game of basketball with the boys-especially her friend Jake-was all it took to put a smile on her face. Baggy jeans, T-shirt, and hair in a ponytail were easy choices. Then, everything suddenly seemed to change all at once. Her best girl friend is now flirting with her best guy friend. Her clothes seem all wrong. Jake is acting weird, and basketball isn’t the same. And worst of all, there is this guy, Santiago, who appears from . . . where? What lengths will Joy go to–and who will she become–to attract his attention?
Karma Khullar’s Mustache
Published: August 15, 2017
Karma Khullar is about to start middle school, and she is super nervous. Not just because it seems like her best friend has found a newer, blonder best friend. Or the fact that her home life is shaken up by the death of her dadima. Or even that her dad is the new stay-at-home parent, leading her mother to spend most of her time at work. But because she’s realized that she has seventeen hairs that have formed a mustache on her upper lip.
With everyone around her focused on other things, Karma is left to figure out what to make of her terrifyingly hairy surprise all on her own.
The Garden of My Imaan
Published: April 1, 2013
It’s hard enough to fit in without also having to decide whether to fast for Ramadan and wear the hijab.
Aliya already struggles with trying to fit in, feeling confident enough to talk to the cute boy, or brave enough to stand up to mean kids―the fact that she’s Muslim is just another part of her life. But then Marwa, a Moroccan girl who shares Aliya’s faith, if not her culture, moves to town. Marwa’s quiet confidence leads Aliya to wonder even more about who she is, what she believes, and where she fits in. In a series of letters to Allah she writes for a Sunday school project, Aliya explores her dreams and fears, hoping that with hard work and faith, something beautiful will grow in the garden of imaan―the small quiet place inside where belief unfolds, one petal at a time.
This award-winning novel from author and educator Farhana Zia captures the social and identity struggles of middle school with a fresh, new voice.
Spurt: A Balls and All Story
Published: October 1, 2015
A hilarious coming of age story for teenage boys about faking it until you make it—and what it means to be a man
Jack Sprigley isn’t just a late-bloomer. He’s a no-bloomer. He’s about to start the last term of ninth grade and puberty is still a total no-show. Worse yet, he hasn’t heard from his friends at all over break. He assumes they’ve finally dumped him and his child-like body—except then he finds out that it’s much worse than he thought. His friends are now so far ahead of him that they’ve started hooking up and getting girlfriends. Jack comes up with a plan to catch up and win his friends back. And his plan is perfect: he just has to fake puberty.
The Line Tender
Published: April 16, 2019
Wherever the sharks led, Lucy Everhart’s marine-biologist mother was sure to follow. In fact, she was on a boat far off the coast of Massachusetts, collecting shark data when she died suddenly. Lucy was seven. Since then Lucy and her father have kept their heads above water–thanks in large part to a few close friends and neighbors. But June of her twelfth summer brings more than the end of school and a heat wave to sleepy Rockport. On one steamy day, the tide brings a great white–and then another tragedy, cutting short a friendship everyone insists was “meaningful” but no one can tell Lucy what it all meant. To survive the fresh wave of grief, Lucy must grab the line that connects her depressed father, a stubborn fisherman, and a curious old widower to her mother’s unfinished research on the Great White’s return to Cape Cod. If Lucy can find a way to help this unlikely quartet follow the sharks her mother loved, she’ll finally be able to look beyond what she’s lost and toward what’s left to be discovered.
The Only Black Girls in Town
Published: March 10, 2020
Beach-loving surfer Alberta has been the only Black girl in town for years. Alberta’s best friend, Laramie, is the closest thing she has to a sister, but there are some things even Laramie can’t understand. When the bed and breakfast across the street finds new owners, Alberta is ecstatic to learn the family is black—and they have a 12-year-old daughter just like her.
Alberta is positive she and the new girl, Edie, will be fast friends. But while Alberta loves being a California girl, Edie misses her native Brooklyn and finds it hard to adapt to small-town living.
When the girls discover a box of old journals in Edie’s attic, they team up to figure out exactly who’s behind them and why they got left behind. Soon they discover shocking and painful secrets of the past and learn that nothing is quite what it seems.
Sophie Hartley And The Facts Of Life
Published: November 19, 2013
Sophie Hartley, age ten, does not want to be a teenager. She vows she’ll never be like her older sister, Nora, who has tantrums about her hair and almost everything else. Her older brother Thad is preoccupied with his girlfriend of the moment and doesn’t seem to like the family anymore. No, Sophie likes being who she is right now, helping out at home, doing art projects, and hanging out with her two best friends.
And another thing. Next year Sophie’s class will see the movie about body changes, and her classmates are already buzzing about it. Sophie doesn’t want to know about that embarrassing stuff yet. Does that mean she’s immature? How can she prove otherwise?
As usual, Sophie faces challenges and challengers with determination and resourcefulness. With the same down-to-earth, realistic, humorous take on friendships and family relationships praised in the three previous Sophie Hartley books, this fourth story brings the indomitable Sophie a step closer to growing up without compromising her sense of herself.
Go with the Flow
Published: January 14, 2020
Sophomores Abby, Brit, Christine, and Sasha are fed up. Hazelton High never has enough tampons. Or pads. Or adults who will listen.
Sick of an administration that puts football before female health, the girls confront a world that shrugs―or worse, squirms―at the thought of a menstruation revolution. They band together to make a change. It’s no easy task, especially while grappling with everything from crushes to trig to JV track but they have each other’s backs. That is, until one of the girls goes rogue, testing the limits of their friendship and pushing the friends to question the power of their own voices.
Now they must learn to work together to raise each other up. But how to you stand your ground while raising bloody hell?
Published: January 7, 2020
Twelve-year-old Jelly hides her true self behind her humor and keeps her true thoughts and feelings locked away in a notebook. Can she find the courage to share who she really is?
Angelica (Jelly for short) is the queen of comedy at school. She has a personality as big as she is, and everyone loves her impressions. But Jelly isn’t as confident as she pretends to be. No one knows her deepest thoughts and feelings. She keeps those hidden away in a secret notebook.
Then her mom’s new boyfriend, Lennon, arrives. He’s kind and perceptive, and he is the first person to realize that Jelly is playing a part. Jelly shares her poetry with him and he convinces her to perform one of her poems as a song at the school talent show. Can Jelly risk letting people see the real her? What if it all goes wrong?
There they are: 17 of the best middle grade books about periods and puberty! I’m sure tweens will love these stories. Which of these books have you read? Which ones did I miss?
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