How I wish I’d had a copy of Maryann Jacobsen’s book, My Body’s Superpower: The Girl’s Guide to Growing Up Healthy During Puberty, in my pre-adolescent and adolescent years. Although many decades have gone by since then, I still vividly remember how difficult it was to manage my feelings, my changing body and the world I lived in. If you have a female child who’s approaching or going through the changes of puberty, you’ll want to purchase a copy of this book to help guide her through it.
The premise of My Body’s Superpower is that we all have secret powers that become superpowers once we discover, practice, and start using them regularly. The book begins with Jacobsen, a dietician, mother and author who writes about effective parenting, explaining what puberty is and describing its five stages. She describes early and late puberty and even has a short section for boys going through it.
Jacobsen explains appetite signals and some of the chemical happenings in our bodies that make us feel hungry or full. She then tours us through how our digestive, nervous, circulatory, skeletal, muscular, and integumentary systems work and moves on to talk about super (aka nutritious) foods and why they do wonders for us. Her focus is on choosing healthy foods that make our bodies run and feel better. A section on the need for sleep and exercise follows, with explanations of why they are important.
Another chapter focuses on emotions: their purpose, how our bodies react to them, and why readers may find them challenging during puberty. For example, she says that “Your body talks to you through feelings,” which is an enlightening way to understand emotions and the body-mind connection. She also warns about the dangers of excess stress and how to manage bad or low moods.
Jacobsen next covers the importance of friendships and how to make and keep friends. This is an especially important chapter, as so many of us growing up don’t know which personality and character traits make for mutually beneficial relationships. Especially in these days of bullying, it’s vital that children know how to handle themselves in social situations in and out of school. My favorite part of the book is about critical thinking skills. How I’ve long wished that we would teach them in school. I even have an entire section about them and problem-solving in my book, Outsmarting Overeating, because dysregulated eaters need to learn to think better in order to eat better.
Even older teens and parents will benefit from this book. Ideally parents will read it with their children so that both will learn and grow their super powers together.