acet UK CEO Sarah Smith has written a book for 11-14 year olds called “A Guide to Growing Up” which is a Christian perspective on puberty, sex and God. We asked Sarah to tell us a bit more about her book:
Why did you decide to write “A Guide to Growing Up”?
It was when I was living in Uganda (when I was sitting on a swing one day!) that I got the idea for the book. The reason I wanted to write it is because I felt there was a gap in the market for an illustrated Christian book on puberty and sex that tackled hot topics in an engaging and credible way. I basically wanted to write the sort of book I would have liked to have read as a Christian young person, and especially as a Christian young person who didn’t like church!
Can you give us an overview of what the book covers?
It’s a very comprehensive book covering lots of topics related to our bodies, puberty, relationships, sex, reproduction and sexual health. As well as these general areas, the book addresses pornography, sexting, masturbation, different types of attraction and boundaries within relationships. The book doesn’t cover everything, but I hope it provides a good starting point for helpful conversations on a range of issues.
How did you make sure that the book is something young people will want to read and be able to relate to?
I have learnt from my work in schools and youth clubs that it is so important to listen to what young people say and not assume you know what they want just because you’ve been involved in youth work for a long time! The book is full of quotes from real young people which came from focus groups that I ran. I felt it would be much better to hear from young people themselves rather than the book being my voice all the way through. I also got young people to vote for the illustrator and title that they liked best.
The illustrator they chose has done a great job.
Yes, Alex Webb-Peploe is incredibly talented and it was such a privilege to work with him. I had already described the type of illustrations I wanted as I was writing the text and we spent two days deciding how each illustration would look in more detail. I wanted the book to be full of illustrations to bring the book to life and add fun and humour to the narrative.
What are your hopes for the book?
I hope that young people (and adults) will really enjoy reading it, be empowered by what they learn and have increased confidence in their bodies through what they read. I also hope it helps them journey with God. For parents, my hope is that they will find it a really helpful tool in their conversations with their children about relationships and sex. It would be great if they read the book themselves and then pass it on to their child, being ready to answer any questions the child has and sharing their own perspectives on what I have written with their child (as some may not agree with things I have said).
I’d love for the book to be a springboard for conversations at home, in churches and in youth settings. In our work at acet UK we find that parents are so keen to receive support in having these conversations and we are increasingly being invited to deliver workshops on the topic in churches.
You can purchase a copy of ‘A Guide to Growing Up: Honest Conversations and Puberty, Sex and God’ for £9.99 (incl. UK P&P) from acet UK. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01244 566111