Sexual Health Week

16 – 22 September 2019

Brook believes that every young person should have equal access to quality relationships and sex education, sexual health services and wellbeing support.

Brook Young People, 2019,

Talking about sex and sexual health can be difficult, and it can be even tougher to get the teenagers to listen without the stomping out shouting “Uh, you’re so embarrassing!”
We have some informative and helpful books that you can leave with your teenager for them to read or browse after, or before, having ‘The Talk’ with them. The books can give teenagers the extra support and help they might need to feel confident in themselves and their body. As well as a better understanding of what’s happening to their bodies, to their hormones and know that they are not alone.
Have a look at the list below for just some of the great titles we have available to borrow, or if you would prefer to browse all titles, head down to the bottom of this blog.

1. The breast book : a puberty guide with a difference – it’s the when, why and how of breasts by Emma Pickett

When breasts first start to grow, no one talks about it. There aren’t any greetings cards that say, ‘Woo Hoo! Your breasts are developing!’ but you get a birthday card when you are ten and that’s just about planet Earth going around the Sun ten times. Why don’t we say, ‘Woo Hoo!’? Because we live in a society where we often get uncomfortable and look at the floor when it comes to talking about breasts. They seem to be important in lots of ways but then there are these confusing rules that say when we’re allowed to notice them and talk about them, and when we’re not. This book tells you all about breasts and helps you to feel confident about their arrival.

2. Understanding sexuality : what it means to be lesbian, gay or bisexual by Honor Head

This title looks at the issues around sexuality – what it means, being lesbian, gay or bisexual, coming out, homophobia and accepting yourself and being happy in your own skin. It includes talking and debating points and is perfect for someone starting to question their sexuality or for PSHE lessons.

3. What is gender? How does it define us? And other big questions by Juno Dawson

What’s the difference between sex and gender? What does it mean to be defined by your gender? Are there only two genders? This informative book helps kids to explore these questions and more, explaining that there are differences of opinion and that answers are not always straightforward.

4. The boys’ guide to growing up by Phil Wilkinson and illustrated by Sarah Horne

A friendly and reassuring guide for boys as they approach puberty, explaining the changes that will happen to their bodies as they grow up and how these changes might make them feel. Covering everything from physical changes like body hair and testicle growth to emotional ones like mood swings and self-esteem, the author anticipates any worries that boys may have relating to what is ‘normal’ and about feeling different. It gives them the information they will need to reassure them and boost their confidence, encouraging them to feel positive about the changes they will experience as they go through puberty.

5. Doing it! : let’s talk about sex by Hannah Witton

Sexting, virginity, consent, the big O…let’s face it, doing it can be tricksy. I don’t know anyone (including myself) who has sex all figured out. So I’ve written a book full of honest, hilarious (and sometimes awkward) anecdotes, confessions and revelations. And because none of us have all the answers, I’ve invited some friends and fellow YouTubers to talk about their sexuality, too. We talk about doing it safely. Doing it joyfully. Doing it when you’re ready. Not doing it. Basically, doing it the way you want, when you want.

6. Dr Christian’s guide to growing up online (hashtag: awkward) by Dr Christian Jessen

‘Dr Christian’s Guide to Growing Up Online (Hashtag: Awkward)’ takes a social-media style tour through such wide-ranging topics as health, puberty, anxiety, gender, sexuality, stress, grief and any difficult questions in between. In this brand-new book, readers aged 10 and up will come across every question they’ve ever imagined asking, and probably a few they haven’t. Perfect for starting a dialogue about a difficult subject or for getting a quick answer from a reliable source.

7. The girl guide by Marawa Ibrahim and illustrated by Sinem Erkas

Five times world-record breaking hula-hoop star Marawa Ibrahim was told that she was too chubby during her teenage years to succeed as a performer. Today she is one of the most solicited circus performers worldwide, working with artists from Pharrell Williams, to Beyonce and Kenzo. Contained within these pages are 50 lessons, anecdotes and stories about the changes Marawa experienced in her own body during puberty.

8. Puberty and growing up by Anna Claybourne

Puberty is often a confusing time with many changes both physical and emotional to deal with. This book deals with all aspects of puberty in a straightforward and sensitive way so young children and teenagers are armed with all the facts. It includes the changes that happen to boys and girls, periods, moods and stress and introduces sex and sexuality. The text is accompanied by fun, graphic illustrations suitable for any age.

9. Help your kids with growing up : a no-nonsense guide to puberty and adolescence by Robert Winston

Covering everything from the menstrual cycle to sexting and even cyber-bullying, this visual guide to puberty and adolescence is a must-read for all parents and tweens embarking on those scary teenage years. It covers contemporary issues such as internet safety, whilst also tackling key topics such as sexuality and body image.

10. The girls’ guide to growing up by Anita Naik and illustrated by Sarah Horne

A friendly and reassuring guide for girls as they approach puberty, explaining the changes that will happen to their bodies as they grow up and how these changes might make them feel. Covering everything from periods and breast development to body hair and personal hygiene, the author anticipates any worries that girls may have relating to what is ‘normal’ and about feeling different. It gives them the information they will need to reassure them and boost their confidence, encouraging them to feel positive about the changes they will experience as they go through puberty.

These are just some of the books available to borrow from Hampshire Libraries, visit our website to browse all titles available.


Families, just like people, come in all shapes and sizes. Sharing stories about different families, and families similar to ones own, can help put a child’s mind at ease and show to them that no two families are alike, as well as make the child feel like they belong.

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My Two Grandads
by Floella Benjamin and Margaret Chamberlain

Grandad Roy plays in a steel band; Grandad Harry plays in a brass band. Aston loves both styles of music. When the school needs a band to play at the school fair, and both grandads want their own band to play. This delightful story of a mixed-race family reconciling their very different cultures is a wonderful celebration of diverse cultures.
Age: 5+

My Two Grannies
by Floella Benjamin and Margaret Chamberlain

Alvina has two grannies: Grannie Vero is from Trinidad, Grannie Rose is from the north of England. When her parents go away on holiday, both grannies move in to Alvina’s house to look after her. Each granny want to do things her way. The grannies get crosser and crosser until Alvina steps in.
Age: 4+

In A Minute
by Tony Bradman and Eileen Browne

Jo and her friend Sita are excited about their visit to the park with Jo’s parents, but there are so many delays they fear they’ll never get there. 
Age: 2+

Up and Down Mum
by Child’s Play and Wellcome Trust and illustrated by Summer Macon
Age range: 3+

Living with Mum is a bit like a roller coaster ride. At times, she is excited and full of energy, but at others, she is tired and withdrawn. But she’s always my mum, and we’re sharing the ride. For children who grow up in the care of a parent with mental health problems, life can be filled with anxiety and uncertainty. With the aid of a clear and simple information spread, this story helps us to understand the causes of mental illness and how we can learn to live with someone who has it. Developed in close consultation with families with parental mental health conditions and created in collaboration with the Wellcome Trust.

The Most Precious Present in the World
by Becky Edwards and Louise Comfort

Mia wants to know why she looks different to her adoptive parents and why her birth parents didn’t want her. A charming and comforting book.
Age: 4+

Grace & Family
by Mary Hoffman

Heart warming story about a young girl learning to live with two families, one in Britain and one in Africa, after her parents divorce. Beautifully illustrated.
Age: 5+

The Great Big Book of Families
by Mary Hoffman and Ros Asquith

There are almost as many kinds of families as colours of the rainbow and this book illustrates some of them: from a mum and dad or single parent to two mums or two dads, from a mixed-race family to children with different mums and dads, from families with a disabled member to those with a mum or dad in prison.
Age: 5+

Welcome to the Family
by Mary Hoffman and Ros Asquith

A charming and informative book that explores the many different ways a new baby might join your family, including adoption and fostering.  Also looks at different types of families.
Age: 4+

Families, Families, Families!
by Suzanne Lang and Max Lang

This book introduces a whole host of silly animal families, who all carry the same message.  It doesn’t matter how your family is made up – if you love each other, then you are a family.
Age: 3+

Every Second Friday
by Kiri Lightfoot and Ben Galbraith

A brother and sister spend alternate weekends with their father. A story about belonging in two places.
Age: 4+

Two Homes
by Claire Masurel

Positive and encouraging look at the advantages, rather than disadvantages, of two homes. Told from the child’s view point.
Age: 3+

Dad David, Baba Chris and Me
by Ed Merchant

Ben’s two dads adopted him when he was four. This story encourages an understanding and appreciation of same-sex parents, as well as looking at the different sorts of families that there can be.
Age: 4+

Heather has two mummies
by Lesléa Newman

Heather’s favourite number is two – she has two arms, two legs, two pets and two lovely mummies. But when Heather goes to school for the first time, someone asks her about her daddy – and Heather doesn’t have a daddy! But then the class all draw portraits of their families, and not one single drawing is the same. Heather and her classmates realise – it doesn’t matter who makes up a family, the most important thing is that all the people in it love one another very much.
Age: 5+

Molly and her Dad
by Jan Ormerod and Carol Thompson

Molly hasn’t seen her dad for ages. Is she like him? A positive, light hearted story that captures Molly’s anxieties well. Lively vibrant illustrations with good use of speech bubbles.
Age: 5+

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The Colour Thief: A families’ story of depression
by Andrew Fusek Peters and Polly Peters and illustrated by Karin Littlewood
Age range: 5+

The Colour Thief is a simple, heart-warming tale which helps to open up the
conversations around depression and to support young children whose families have been affected. We follow a young boy who loves spending time with his dad, doing fun things together. When his father becomes sad and distant, he doesn’t understand and believes he has done something to make his dad so, despite being told otherwise. Narrated from the child’s perspective, this is the perfect book to read with children who are trying to understand the 11 cause and effects of depression and reassure them that depression passes, and their parents are not lost to them.

Image result for Living with mum and living with dad

Living with Mum and Living with Dad: My Two Homes
by Melanie Walsh

A simple lift-the-flap book which is reassuring for very young children.
Age: 3+

Useful Organisations

Adoption UK:
Providing an online forum, support groups, family days and training for parents.

The Association for Postnatal Illness:
Support and information on postnatal depression.

Care for the family:
Support and information for families.

Contact a family:
A national charity that exists to support the families of disabled children whatever their condition or disability.

Dad Info:
Gives advice for parents from a dad’s perspective, including articles and ‘dad guides’ on pregnancy, birth and financial issues.

Family action:
Transforms lives by providing practical, emotional and financial support to those who are experiencing poverty, disadvantage and social isolation across the country.

Family Fund 
Offer grants to low-income families raising disabled and seriously ill children and young people.

Family Lives:
A national charity providing help and support in all aspects of family life.

Works nationally and locally for and with single parents to improve their lives.

Support for both adults and children with learning disabilities.

National Childbirth Trust:
Giving accurate, impartial antenatal information to parents.

Support for both adults and children with disabilities.

A charity for the brothers and sisters of disabled children and adults.

The Man Who Disappeared by Clare Morrall

About the book

What would you do if, out of the blue, your husband disappeared and you found out he was a suspected criminal?

When reliable, respectable Felix Kendall vanishes, his wife Kate is left reeling. As she and their children cope with the shocking impact on their comfortable lives, Kate realises that, if Felix is guilty, she never truly knew the man she loved. But as she faces the possibility that he might not return, she also discovers strengths she never knew she had.

Reviewed by Littleton & Harestock WI

A good, light read so it’s nomination for a Summer Read makes sense. Although some aspects seem contrived, the ending shows the complete change in the roles of the main characters because of the events”

star rating **

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The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

About the book


On the eve of the First World War, a little girl is found abandoned after a gruelling ocean voyage from England to Australia. All she can remember of the journey is that a mysterious woman she calls the Authoress had promised to look after her. But the Authoress has vanished without a trace.


Now an old lady, Nell travels to England to discover the truth about her parentage. Her quest leads her to Cornwall, and to a beautiful estate called Blackhurst Manor, which had been owned by the Mountrachet family. What has prompted Nell’s journey after all these years?


On Nell’s death, her granddaughter, Cassandra, comes into a surprise inheritance. Cliff Cottage, in the grounds of Blackhurst Manor, is notorious amongst the locals for the secrets it holds – secrets about the doomed Mountrachet family. But it is at Cliff Cottage, abandoned for years, and in its forgotten garden, that Cassandra will uncover the truth about the family and why the young Nell was abandoned all those decades before.

Reviewed by Novel Characters

“A much layered plot but which keeps you interested until the end (not everyone agreed) Most really enjoyed this book and was sorry when it was finished. Would highly recommend!!”

star rating ****


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The Black Sheep by Susan Hill

About the book


Brother and sister, Ted and Rose Howker, grew up in Mount of Zeal, a mining village blackened by coal. They know nothing of the outside world, though both of them yearn for escape. For Rose this comes in the form of love, while Ted seizes the chance of a job away from the pit. But neither can truly break free and their decisions bring with them brutal consequences…


Reviewed by Itchen

“The story is set in a North Yorkshire mining community and is the tragedy of one family. It is a well written, short book but the author tells her story well. There are several issues to be explored by a book group which include family, community, gender inequality and the struggle to survive. If the test of the book is to tell about the human condition, this one certainly does”

star rating ****

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A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon

About the book

At fifty-seven, George is settling down to a comfortable retirement, building a shed in his garden, reading historical novels, listening to a bit of light jazz. Then Katie, his tempestuous daughter, announces that she is getting remarried, to Ray. Her family is not pleased – as her brother Jamie observes, Ray has ‘strangler’s hands’. Katie can’t decide if she loves Ray, or loves the way he cares for her son Jacob, and her mother Jean is a bit put out by the way the wedding planning gets in the way of her affair with one of her husband’s former colleagues. And the tidy and pleasant life Jamie has created crumbles when he fails to invite his lover, Tony, to the dreaded nuptials. Unnoticed in the uproar, George discovers a sinister lesion on his hip, and quietly begins to lose his mind.

Reviewed by The Poulner Readers

“Entertaining with fun moments but with some pathos. Not a stretching read but enjoyable”

star rating ***

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We are all Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

About the book

Rosemary’s young, just at college, and she’s decided not to tell anyone a thing about her family. So we’re not going to tell you too much either: you’ll have to find out for yourselves, round about page 77, what it is that makes her unhappy family unlike any other.

Rosemary is now an only child, but she used to have a sister the same age as her, and an older brother. Both are now gone – vanished from her life. There’s something unique about Rosemary’s sister, Fern. And it was this decision, made by her parents, to give Rosemary a sister like no other, that began all of Rosemary’s trouble. So now she’s telling her story: full of hilarious asides and brilliantly spiky lines, it’s a looping narrative that begins towards the end, and then goes back to the beginning. Twice.


Reviewed by Newcomers

“Provided plenty of stimulating conversation – the subject matter cannot be ignored!”

star rating ****


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My Animals and Other Family by Clare Balding

About the book

I had spent most of my childhood thinking I was a dog, and suspect I had aged in dog years.’

Clare Balding grew up in a rather unusual household. Her father a champion trainer, she shared her life with more than 100 thoroughbred racehorses, mares, foals and ponies, as well as an ever-present pack of boxers and lurchers. As a toddler she would happily ride the legendary Mill Reef and take breakfast with the Queen.

She and her younger brother came very low down the pecking order. Left to their own devices, they had to learn life’s toughest lessons through the animals, and through their adventures in the stables and the idyllic Hampshire Downs. From the protective Candy to the pot-bellied Valkyrie and the frisky Hattie, each horse and each dog had their own character and their own special part to play.

The running family joke was that “women ain’t people”. Clare had to prove them wrong, to make her voice heard – but first she had to make sure she had something to say.

Reviewed by Ringwood Readers

“An interesting, well structured and funny book. A good, touching, relaxing read”

star rating ***




The Family Way by Tony Parsons

About the book

Paulo loves Jessica. He thinks that together they are complete – a family of two. But Jessica can’t be happy until she has a baby, and the baby stubbornly refuses to come. Can a man and a woman ever really be a family of two?
Megan doesn’t love her boyfriend anymore. After a one-night stand with an Australian beach bum, she finds that even a trainee doctor can slip up on the family planning. Should you bring a child into the world if you don’t love its father?
Cat loves her life. After bringing up her two youngest sisters, all she craves is freedom. Her older boyfriend has done the family thing before and is in no rush to do it all again. But can a modern woman really find true happiness without ever being in the family way?
Three sisters. Three couples. Two pregnancies. Six men and women struggling with love, sex, fertility and the meaning of family.

Reviewed by Cheerful Bags reading Group:

Really enjoyed this book. We thought it was wonderful that a man (the author) could have such sensitivity to a woman’s feelings. It also had a nice happy ending for a change, gave us a lift.

Star rating: ***

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Only Half of Me by Rageh Omaar

About the book

A Muslim boy goes to a madrassa in Mogadishu to learn the Koran. His parents take him on two pilgrimages to Mecca. He arrives in Britain as a child just as Somalia collapses into a state of civil war, which will continue throughout his childhood and prevent him from going home. He watches Black Hawk Down in horror. He watches the invasion of Iraq in disbelief. To the media, government and general public, this is the classic background story to the most feared figure of our times: the young, male, black, British, Muslim. It is also the story of Rageh Omaar’s childhood. Rageh Omaar’s unique and profoundly moving book is the story of his childhood in Somalia, his family’s attitude to religion, his double life as a British Muslim and that of other British Muslims: the failed suicide bomber from Somalia; his cousin who was stabbed in the neck on a London street on 8th July 2005. Full of humanity and rage, empathy and insight, “Only Half of Me” takes us into lives that are widely misunderstood, and tries to make sense of our own fractured world.

Reviewed by Anton Bookies:

There was a mixed reaction amongst the group from great interest in his description of Somali culture to ‘a complete turnoff’, but it certainly stimulated a very lively discussion.

Star rating: ***

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