Mom’s Choice Awards is excited to announce another post in our interview series where we chat with the inventors, designers, publishers, and others behind some of our favorite family-friendly products.
Hello, Mom’s Choice readers! Welcome back and thank you for joining us for another interview in our series. We were lucky enough to chat with Lori A. Reichel, Ph.D., the author behind the Mom’s Choice Award-winning book, Common Questions Children Ask About Puberty. Common Questions Children Ask About Puberty provides simple answers to over 500 questions people of all ages wonder about, as well as recommendations for how to have conversations. In addition, the “Puberty Chit Chat Cards” are enclosed to help children and adults begin conversations in a fun and interactive manner. Common Questions Children Ask About Puberty is a great tool for any parent looking for easier ways to communicate with their children about conversations that can sometimes be uncomfortable. Keep reading to find out more about Lori and her informative book, Common Questions Children Ask About Puberty.
MCA: Hi Lori! Thank you so much for chatting with us today about your MCA award-winning book, Common Questions Children Ask About Puberty. Can we start the interview by you telling us about yourself?
Lori: I am a passionate health educator with 30 years of teaching experience. This experience includes working with children and youth to provide age and developmentally appropriate information and skill development that best supports their health.
Due to my skillset within the field, I received numerous awards, as well as requests to sit on state and national committees pertaining to wellness. I also consult for local school districts and state education departments.
One of my new hobbies is creating and producing the Puberty Prof podcast. This podcast is another opportunity for parents and other caregivers to use to help talk with their children. The feedback I have received includes families listening to episodes together in which families are actually prompted to talk – something that research has shown young people want and need.
My other hobbies and interests include hiking, training one of our dogs, Hope, as a future therapy dog (to hopefully working with children), cooking, writing, and knitting.
MCA: One of the hardest jobs in parenting is talking to your kids about difficult subjects. I’m sure many parents are very grateful to have your book as well as your podcast! How did your experience as a health educator with 30 years of teaching experience lead you to your path of becoming a writer?
Lori: The path to becoming a writer included wanting to provide a tool for adults on a topic we all go through – puberty. This natural and “normal” occurrence can be a challenging topic for people of all ages to talk about. To ensure I reached this goal, I set mini-goals for writing which included scheduling set times each week to write and then edit parts of the book. I also asked for feedback from a variety of people, including parents and other caregivers, about how to strengthen the book. All of this writing occurred while working as a full-time educator.
I was also inspired to write more while completing my doctoral program at Texas A&M University.
MCA: What was your inspiration for writing Common Questions Children Ask About Puberty?
Lori: What inspired me to write Common Questions Children Ask About Puberty was talking with parents and other caregivers. Upon presenting to family members about what is taught to their children in the school setting, I am repeatedly asked if I would share what children would ask. It seems as if there is a natural curiosity by children about puberty and growing up…and at the same time, their caregivers are also curious about what children want to know.
Also, research tells us that many parents are unsure of what to say to their children. This is why simple answers that are age and developmentally appropriate are provided in the book.
MCA: That research is not surprising, as talking to children can be very intimidating as a parent, especially when it comes to certain topics such as puberty. Can you give us examples as to the kind of questions and answers that can be found in Common Questions Children Ask About Puberty?
Lori: The questions provided in the book were provided by children in an anonymous manner.
Questions were divided into six sections within the book: General Puberty Questions, Questions about Most Girls, Questions about Most Boys, Questions about Pregnancy and Babies, Other Questions Commonly Asked During Puberty Talks, and Common Questions from Parents and Other Caregivers. The Puberty Chit Chat Cards (discussion cards) are also provided in the book.
Sample questions include:
- How do you prevent pimples?
- Do I need to shave?
- What do you use when you have your period?
- How many wet dreams will a boy have?
- Do babies form in your stomach?
MCA: Why was it important for you to use your background and experience to give parents and caregivers “tools” to help prepare them for puberty talks?
Lori: Research with parents of children of all ages tells us that parents want help with these, and other sensitive health talks. And they prefer simple and effective tools.
As a person with 30 years of experience working with children of a variety of ages, I have learned how to best phrase things, as well as provide interactive opportunities for learning. That is how the Puberty Chit Chat cards were created.
MCA: That’s very interesting. Can you tell us more about the “Puberty Chit Chat Cards” that can be found within Common Questions Children Ask About Puberty?
Lori: The Puberty Chit Chat cards work – they help people of all ages talk. By copying the cards provided in the back of the book onto card stock and then cutting them into individual cards to create a pile, families are able to choose one card at a time to talk about. Children LOVE to pull out a card randomly to talk about the card’s topic; some parents have shared with me that even though they used the cards a few times already, their child still will ask to pick a card to talk about the question. By the way, answers for the cards are found in the book.
Because these cards help families start and continue conversations on the topic of puberty and growing up, I created the TALK Puberty app that aligns with the cards and book. This app has over 150 questions from the book with very simples answers to help guide the conversations. Parents, teachers, and other caregivers have shared that this tool actually leads a variety of conversations that children need.
MCA: What kind of response from readers have you received?
Lori: Responses from parents have been positive! Upon opening up the book to a random page, readers are often engulfed in the questions they read, recalling their experiences as a child. And, upon reading different sections, feel more confident to talk with their children. Many children also like reading the questions and answers.
One quote includes: This book is a great communication tool for parents and their children. The questions and topics are realistic. Today’s teens and parents need clear and honest explanations. Parents are faced with more questions than when I was a teen over 30 years ago. Thirty years ago we learned about “the birds and the bees” and ‘your friend.’ Today the issues around sexuality and sex have become more complicated. This book is a great ice breaker and I highly recommend this to all parents of pre-teens and up. Kudos to the author for using language that is comfortable and appropriate.
MCA: How rewarding! Thank you for a great and very informative interview, Lori! We hope to hear more from you soon. In the meantime, we will be sure to keep up with your Puberty Prof podcast!
You can learn more about Lori A. Reichel and her award-winning book, Common Questions Children Ask About Puberty by visiting her MCA Shop pages.