Tech & Media
8 Books to help raise boys to be body positive
By Jennifer Cox
May 31, 2018
We hear a lot about body image and girls, but for moms of boys (me!), I worry just as much about my son’s thoughts about his own body. We talk about how superficial details don’t define a person. He might say, “Mommy, she’s pretty” and I'll respond, “Yes, but I bet she’s very smart too.” We also talk about how important it is to look at the person inside.
Given his parents' biology (we’re both quite tall and thin), I find myself sneaking him extra snacks every chance I get while complimenting his handsome long legs. But then I immediately jump into how much I love his creativity and humour, reverting to my original point that we avoid discussing physical attributes. It’s all a delicate balance.
So, I went on a hunt for some incredible books to help me out. I wanted to spark healthy conversations about body image, self esteem, our bodies and more, and find books that are ideally suited to younger male minds that use interesting information, as well as engaging graphics, to captivate and empower our young boys.
Here’s what I found…
It’s Okay To Be Different (Written and Illustrated by Todd Parr)
This book teaches the basic principles of acceptance, understanding and confidence in an accessible, child-friendly format. This picture book features bright, vibrant illustrations that will keep novice readers engaged and excited throughout. Plus, it teaches such a valuable lesson: it’s OK to be different. Ages 0 to 5.
Me and My Body (Written by DK Books)
Knowledge is power, and your little boys will feel empowered when they discover everything they need to know about their bodies, from the inside out. Find out how germs make you sick, how your senses work and why you have a belly button. This can foster some great discussions about how we’re all made up the same way biologically, but how our individual characteristics make us special and unique. Ages 3 to 5.
Shapesville (Written by Andy Mills and Becky Osborn, Illustrated by Erica Neitz)
Boys (and girls) come in all shapes and sizes, a truism that's playfully illustrated in this colourful book for young readers. Rather than shy away from the things that set them apart, they should be celebrated! Like the book says, "It’s not the size of your shape, or the shape of your size, but the size of your heart and that deserves first prize."
What I Like About Me (Written by Allia Zobel Nolan, Illustrated by Miki Sakamoto)
In this read, great for younger kids, the children love the things that set them apart, whether it be their braces, glasses, or anything else that’s different. After all, it’s those unique qualities that make them one-of-a-kind. And the charming thing is, at the end of this book, there’s a mirror, so your child can admire what they like about themselves. Ages 3 to 8.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Ugly Truth (Written by Jeff Kinney)
Greg Heffley has always been in a hurry to grow up, but is getting older really all it’s cracked up to be? Jeff Kinney, a New York Times bestselling author does it again with this funny coming-of-age tale, where chuckles await with each turn of the page. Ages 8 to 12.
The Body Book for Boys (Written by Rebecca Paley)
This must-have book for boys offers straightforward advice about their changing bodies and growing up. It explores everything you need to know about being a tween/teen boy, from shaving to vocal changes, bad breath, smelly feet, braces and acne. Young readers will stay engaged with the Q&A and quiz portions. Ages 8 to 12.
Wonder (Written by R.J. Palacio)
“I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.” This book, which sold six million copies, is the story of Auggie Pullman, an ordinary boy with an extraordinary face. It was turned into a Julia Roberts-led Hollywood flick and inspired the "Choose Kind" movement. This is a must-read for body (or, more accurately, facial) acceptance among boys. Ages 9 and up.
Boying Up: How To Be Brave, Bold and Brilliant (Written by Mayim Bialik)
Mayim Bialik, star of The Big Bang Theory and author of the bestseller Girling Up — not to mention the mom of two boys — puts her Ph.D. to work talking to teen boys about the science and pressures of growing up male in today’s world. This book covers everything from peer pressure to how boys grow from boys to men, and the pressures of “appearing masculine” in the many forms this can take. Ages 12 and up.