Copyright 2005
Girl's Best Friend Foundation

Girl's Best Friend Foundation (GBF) closed November 2007. 
GBF’s records are archived with Special Collections of the University
of Illinois, Chicago.  In fall 2008, they will be made public:

Great Books to Have on Hand

Please flip through these books before purchasing to make sure they are age appropriate and appealing to your target audience.  Starred reviews are personal favorites; I picked these books because they were not pedantic or boring and spoke to teenagers as decision-makers and agents in their own lives.  Books marked Pre-Teens deal more with the onset of puberty and will be more appealing to younger girls.  Books marked Teens and Pre-Teens go into more explicit detail about sex, STI’s, relationships etc.  None of these are “inappropriate” for Pre-Teens, they just might not hold their interest at this time in their lives.

Bass, Ellen, and Kate Kaufman.  Free Your Mind: The Book for Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Youth and Their Allies.  New York: HarperPerennial; 1996.

Though the pictures are a little dated, this thick book is still totally relevant.  It has lots of stories from youth, thoughtful advice, and wide breadth of topics.  Divided into sections, Self-Discovery, Friends and Lovers, Family, School, Spirituality, and Community, Free Your Mind goes beyond safer sex to a broad view of sexuality and how it intertwines with all aspects of life.  Great for questioning and straight youth as well as those who already identify as GLBT.  Teens and Pre-Teens.

Bell, Ruth.  Changing Bodies, Changing Lives.  New York: Random House; 1998.

By one of the authors of Our Bodies, Our Selves, this teenage version is full of information and perspective on relationships, emotions, sex, protection, and teenage life.  This book contains many passages written by teens describing experiences and situations.  Teens and Pre-Teens.

*Drill, Esther, Heather McDonald, and Rebecca Odes.  Deal With It! A Whole New Approach to Life as a Gurl. New York:  Pocket Books; 1999.

Designed in bright colors with amusing cartoonish illustrations, this book is eye-catching and humorous.  It is divided into four sections: Body, Sexuality, Brain, and Life.  A few of the info sections could provide more information, but this is made up for with lots of comments from girls, funny and intelligent tone, girl and pleasure positive perspective, and  enticing readability that sucks readers in.  Especially commendable is its philosophy that relationships, family, crisis situations, friendships, depression, emotions, and other aspects in the Brain and Life sections get as much page time as Body and Sexuality.  Teens and Pre-Teens.

Jukes, Mavis.  It’s a Girl Thing.   New York:  Alfred A. Knopf; 1996.

This book has funny illustrations and stories and good basic information on puberty, menstruation, and other middle-school concerns.  However because many of the stories are based in the author or the author’s friends experiences, they may be hard to relate to for someone who didn’t share the author’s two-parent, middle class, European-American background.  Pre-Teens.

*Kickin’ It Back With the Girls: A Young Women’s Survival Guide.  2nd Edition.  Health Initiatives for Youth. 

Purchase through HIFY.

Up-front, honest, and fun, this book is serious about girls’ making their own choices, getting respect, feeling pleasure, and reducing harm in their lives.  The Survival Guide includes information, stories, poetry, illustrations, and advice for staying safe, healthy, and in control of your own life.  Teens and Pre-Teens.

Madaras, Lynda.  The What’s Happening to My Body Book For Girls.  New York: Newmarket Press, 2000.

This is the 3rd edition of a classic puberty book.  This recent update includes more first person accounts, but sticks with the black and white line drawings from past editions and mainly informational content.  Pre-Teens.

Madaras, Lynda and Area Madaras.  My Body, My Self for Girls.  New York:  Newmarket Press, 1993.

This workbook accompaniment to The What’s Happening to My Body Book can be used by itself or with the book.  It has information, quizzes, and worksheets for girls to chart the changes in their bodies and lives.  The format is probably most appealing to girls who are into writing and self-observation, but may spur others into those activities. Pre-Teens.

Mather, Cynthia, and Kristina Debye.  How Long Does It Hurt? A Guide to Recovering from Incest and Sexual Abuse for Teenagers, Their Friends, and Their Families.  New York: Jossey-Bass; 1994.

A book about surviving, resisting, and healing from sexual abuse, How Long… was written by a survivor and honestly but hopeful seeks to be a guide to help others survive abuse.  Teens and Pre-Teens.

Potash, Marlin, and Laura Potash Fruitman. Am I Weird, Or Is This Normal?  Advice and Info to Get Teens in the Know.  New York: Simon and Schuster; 2001.

Mainly in question and answer format, this book also contains a lot of information and is frank and open about it.  However, a GLBTQ perspective is confined to a few pages and descriptions of sexual acts tend to be glaringly heterosexist.  Teens and Pre-Teens.

Weston, Carol.  Girltalk: All the Stuff Your Sister Never Told You.  New York: HarperPerennial; 1997.

Girltalk is an extremely thorough guide complete with information, lists, questions and answers, and first person accounts.  It doesn’t have any illustrations and can get a bit dense, but it covers the standard teen topics as well as education and money management.  Teens and Pre-Teens.

Exclusive resources for GBF grantees

If you are interested in being invited to any of the following, tell us.

Youth Worker Exchanges
GBF hosts periodic discussions on topics that cut across many girls programs.

Learning Circles
Small, focused, professionally facilitated peer groups that meet regularly over seven months, to solve work-related organizational, management, and conceptual issues.

Training & Consultation on Evaluation and Research
Girls programs find the training we offer a great way to learn and carry out girl-friendly investigation and evaluation. GBF offers one or two groups trainings a year, and also underwrites training and consultation.
Read more about our research and evaluation

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