Books for Children and Teens
Recently, an 11-year-old girl that I am very fond of burst through my door and exclaimed, ‘I got my period!’ I was a little taken a back —the cyclical nature of periods is bloody exciting and definitely something to be celebrated. I couldn't help but think how far we have come.
I think back to when I started my period: locked in a school toilet cubicle feeling shame flood over me as I found dark reddish-brown in my pants. I didn’t tell anyone initially. Later, I quietly told my Mum, voice dropped, eyes down. This was a very different scene to my young friend proudly announcing her period to the world.
Credit must be given to her Mum and the people in her immediate community. Since the age of nine, she has been part of a community gathering (red tent), where she was shown that a person’s first blood is something to be celebrated and not feared. I also suspect that she has read a book or two.
I can’t stress enough the importance of these creative and thoughtful books for children; not just books about biology and science, but books about the magic of the cycle, the phases to expect and the emotions involved.
Here’s a list of books that I have on my shelf, which deserve to be read.
1. Menstrual Doodles, By Rebecca Martin
This is a fun book to dip in and out of. It’s great for a coffee table, to pick up and flick through. Rebecca was inspired to put her doodles together when she was experiencing a challenging pregnancy and missed her cycle.
She covers her thoughts around painful periods, seeing the cycle as seasons representing the common patterns of her emotions. She also explains some serious health conditions, including endometriosis, hormone imbalances and cramps.
I have a small ‘pocket’ copy. This book is worthwhile reading for any age group.
Find Menstrual Doodles at https://drrebeccamartin.wordpress.com/
2. Ruby Luna’s Curious Journey, By Tessa Venuti Sanderson
Tessa nails it with the simplicity of this book. The watercolour illustrations are beautifully clear. This book introduces educational facts in a fun way for all children on the cusp of puberty. If you’re a parent, guardian or teacher, I recommend adding this book to your collection. Leave it somewhere for your child to find. I’m sure their curiosity will be engaged by every new page.
Tessa has also published Dante Leon’s Curious Journey: A Boy’s Anatomy and Puberty Book, which would go well with Ruby Luna’s Curious Journey.
Find Ruby Luna’s Curious Journey at
3. Ruby Luna’s Moontime, By Tessa Venuti Sanderson
This is another book by Tessa. I gave this book as a celebratory present to my 11-year-old friend (mentioned above). It’s perfect for children who want to start reading ‘chapter books’ to themselves.
Ruby Luna’s Moontime tells the story of a young girl’s journal relating to her cycle. It’s a novella about starting periods and transitioning to secondary school. I especially love this book because it introduces the concept of tracking and observing your cyclical patterns.
Find Ruby Luna’s Moontime at www.tessayoga.co.uk/books
4. Girlhood: The Story, By The Hood
This isn’t really a book. It’s more like a brilliant journal to fill in, with interesting pages to read, so it is both informative and creative!
I gifted this journal to celebrate my friend’s first period, along with the last book I mentioned. They work well together. Ruby Luna’s Moontime acts as inspiration for things to observe, encouraging young people to record their thoughts in Girlhood: The Story. The journal guides young menstruators through self-care, charting, personal preparation and celebration.
Find Girlhood: The Story at https://wearethehood.com/girlhood-the-story
5. Lilith’s Treasure, By Carla Trepat Casanovas
This book is about sexuality, pleasure, and connecting to womanhood and the menstrual cycle. I absolutely love it. There is so much shame around experiencing pleasure—too often, it isn’t even mentioned that pleasure will fade and strengthen in a cyclical nature. Carla seamlessly joins these concepts together and beautifully illustrates these ideas in an accessible way for young people to understand. She shares a natural approach to becoming a woman.
Find Lilith’s Treasure at https://liliths-treasure.com/shop-online/
6. Menarche, A Journey into Womanhood, By Rachel Crowe
Rachel spent years holding gatherings for people who menstruate. She has dedicated herself to teaching people in her community about the menstrual cycle and the importance and beauty of the cycle. Rachel is a fountain of knowledge when it comes to celebration and ritual around menarche. This book is designed to guide parents and caregivers in making menarche a truly celebrated and special time for people who menstruate. I would recommend this book to anyone holding menarche ceremonies in circles.
Find Menarche, A Journey into Womanhood at https://www.rachaelcrow.co.uk/product/menarche-a-journey-into-womanhood/
7. Period Power: A Manifesto for The Menstrual Movement, By Nadya Okamoto
This isn’t a book for kids, but it’s perfect for young adults. I’ve included this because it’s a rare example of a book that discusses periods using gender-neutral language. Published in 2018, it documents the recent developments in the Menstrual Movement. Nadya explains menstruation, the stigma surrounding bleeding and proposes strategies for ending the silence around menstruation.
Find Period Power: A Manifesto for The Menstrual Movement at https://www.nadyaokamoto.com/author
There is widespread demand for gender-neutral language. During 2018, Kenny Ethan Jones challenged Always and Tampax to remove the female symbols from their packaging, urging them to recognise that men also bleed. This has been a controversial and powerful development.
We are yet to find any books for kids or teens acknowledging that some men also bleed. Please contact us if you find one that we’ve missed!
Written by Heather Sanderson and edited by Nina Giblinwright.