By Becky Walton, MLIS, Collection Development
In April 2016, Pew Research published a report about Millennials overtaking Baby Boomers as America’s largest generation. Their statistics show that the
post-Millennial group is larger. With so many young people in a world that is changing so quickly, finding words of wisdom that help kids understand
their lives and emotions, and that validates individuals – as they are – is more important than ever. So when I received the galley for Girling Up: How to Be Strong, Smart and Spectacular* by Mayim Bialik, I knew I wanted to
read it. Now that I have, I want to share my review to help spread the word about this title that focuses on such an important subject.
Actress and scientist Mayim Bialik (Blossom, The Big Bang Theory) states her goal clearly in this holistic and inspiring book: to help
young women make life decisions they’re proud of and build futures that matter, both to self and the world. And since she has a PhD in neuroscience,
I think she’s uniquely qualified to address many teen issues! She begins with an explanation of puberty and the physical, emotional, and behavioral
changes females experience during this time, stressing that there is no right or wrong way of development. She discusses “feminine” and “masculine”
and that while those stereotypes are generally true, they’re not always true. With a brief mention of transgender, she stresses that it’s okay if your
DNA indicates feminine, but you like a lot of masculine things.
She follows this with a chapter about healthy living: water, food choices, mindfulness, exercise. There is the necessary discussion of body image issues
From there she moves to giving tips for learning success. While formal education is very important, there are other ways of learning, too, such as hobbies,
sports, and even media.
A big topic young ladies will want to read about is loving and intimacy. Again coming from a holistic perspective, Bialik shows readers that loving is
about more than having a boyfriend or girlfriend: it involves family, friends, and romantic partners. (Leave it to a neuroscientist to explain how
having a crush makes it hard to focus on other things!) This chapter covers everything from consent to contraception.
Next is a chapter with advice on coping with stress. She lists the types of major stressors as well as specific consequences stress can have on bodies
and emotions. She explores possible coping mechanisms, including meditation, prayer, community, physical activity, therapy, and even sometimes medication
if doctors think it appropriate.
The final chapter might be one readers will be tempted to skip, but I hope they don’t. Bialik urges young women to think about their future, what they
want it to look like, and what type of impact they want to have on the world. She offers the typical options high school graduates have: college, trade
school, military, straight to work/volunteering. She also strongly encourages readers to think about their passions and the causes that interest them
and she lists charity projects started by girls/young women that have made an impact on people.
Throughout this valuable resource, her tone is positive, encouraging, reassuring, non-judgmental, and genuine. She wants to give readers the vocabulary,
inspiration, and power to help them ask questions about what they’re experiencing and make decisions to support what they wish to happen in their lives.
She effectively shows how the seemingly small decisions we make today (like that mean girl comment we made, choosing fast food over a nutritious dish,
or skipping last Thursday’s biology class) can form the basis for how we live our lives in the future.
I have my own scientific equation: Bialik’s academic studies + her accessible tone = a fast and fun read … even with talk of the “hippocampus” and
“amygdala”! Her afterword is especially moving as she discusses how she approached the book’s creation. I highly recommend this book for ages
13 and up.
Here are some similar “girl empowerment” titles that have either recently published or are forthcoming that would complement Girling Up;
check them out!
Curious Jane: Science + Design + Engineering for Inquisitive Girls*
from Sterling Children’s Books
Girl Code: Gaming, Going Viral, and Getting It Done* by Andrea Gonzales and Sophie Houser (HarperCollins)
Girl Rising: Changing the World One Girl at a Time* by Tanya Lee Stone (Wendy Lamb Books)
Girls Who Code: Learn to Code and Change the World* by Reshma Saujani (Viking Books for Young Readers) and the accompanying novel The Friendship Code* by Stacia Deutsch (Grosset & Dunlap)
Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World* edited by Kelly Jensen (Algonquin Young Readers)
Strong Is the New Pretty: A Celebration of Girls Being Themselves* by Kate T. Parker (Workman Publishing)
I’m so thrilled to see these positive and empowering resources being created for our young people and thankful for the opportunity to share them with you.
*Links go to ipage®, Ingram's online ordering system. You must have an account to access. Don't have one? Contact us today!