After three decades of publishing a robust roster of guides for parents, the American Academy of Pediatrics has released its first-ever book for young readers, You-ology: A Puberty Guide for EVERY Body. In keeping with today’s societal focus on gender inclusivity, the book provides a comprehensive approach to puberty education that embraces the idea that all children are best served when they learn about their own bodies and those of their peers, regardless of gender.
Written by Melisa Holmes, Trish Hutchison, and Kathryn Lowe, You-ology aligns with the AAP’s position on gender-affirming care. The guide reflects and addresses all kids, including those who may be trans, nonbinary, or gender diverse, and delivers body-positive information enhanced by illustrated short stories featuring a diverse cast of relatable fictional characters.
You-ology’s inception was rooted in an earlier partnership between pediatrician Hutchinson and Holmes, an ob-gyn with a focus in pediatric and adolescent gynecology. In 2003, the two cofounded Girlology, a wellness app supporting girls and caregivers with personalized on-demand health resources that guide them through puberty and adolescence, which led to the publication of two puberty guides: Girlology: Something New About You and Guyology: Just the Facts.
“We started leading co-ed educational programs and saw how great it was when all kids learned about each other in the same room,” Hutchinson explained. “That put us on a path to write a book that included boys’ and girls’ puberty.”
At a national AAP meeting, Hutchinson and Lowe spoke with Barrett Winston, who handles publishing acquisitions for the AAP, about their book idea, and discovered a propitious coincidence.
“Barrett had been talking to Kathryn Lowe, a pediatrician who has a leadership role with the AAP, around LGBTQ health and wellness,” Hutchinson said. “They discussed the need for a puberty book that focuses on physical and emotional changes and how to manage them, and educates kids about puberty in a way that uses gender inclusive language and is inclusive of gender diverse youths’ experiences as well as cisgender youths’ experiences. Barrett had the brilliant idea to connect the three of us to write one book for all kids.”
Despite their multi-tiered responsibilities as medical practitioners, educators, and parents, the three authors established a smoothly running collaborative procedure.
They began by building on the previously published Girlology and Guyology books, using the same format and much of the information. “From there, we updated the content, developed new content to keep up with the times, and then made it all gender inclusive,” Hutchinson said. “Dr. Lowe was instrumental in creating more inclusive stories and language and adding new text specific to gender diverse youth.”
Hailing from different parts of the country, the trio did not work side by side, yet their close collaboration involved working on a shared document. “All three of us would add comments, suggestions, and edits as our ‘homework,’ and then we would meet on Zoom,” Hutchinson noted. “We’d talk through each chapter to make sure we were all happy with it and read it aloud several times to make sure it had the right voice for this age group.”
Mark Grimes, AAP’s v-p of publishing, heralded You-ology as an ideal first children’s book for AAP, as it represents “a confluence of the right authors, content, and mission—all at the right time. Puberty is, of course, an evergreen topic, but the book’s publication now, given its inclusive approach, is optimal, as is the authors’ combined expertise.”
You-ology, which was published on April 19, sold out of its first printing in one week, its sales boosted by a feature on the book that aired on NPR the weekend after its release; the book has multiple reprintings in the works.
“It was a very pleasant surprise that the guide, as our first children’s book, found its audience so quickly,” Grimes said. “We find that most of our books find their audience over time rather than rush up the bestseller list right out of the gate. But, with the NPR feature creating a lot of interest, this book did—it was lightning in a bottle!”
Not surprisingly, Grimes added that his team at AAP has been holding “quite a few” brainstorming sessions to discuss future publishing possibilities in the children’s arena. “I think we’ll be making some decisions soon,” he said. “The success of You-ology is a great opportunity for us to continue our reach into publishing for youth and adolescents who are looking for guidance from a group like AAP.”
Holmes, Hutchinson, and Lowe are also contemplating their next joint project—though unhurriedly. “We are still celebrating the success of this book,” Hutchinson noted, “but we are definitely considering what will come next.”
You-ology: A Puberty Guide for EVERY Body by Melisa Holmes, Trish Hutchison, and Kathryn Lowe. AAP, $12.95 paper Apr. ISBN 978-1-61002-569-0