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Something I Said

BOOK OF THE MONTH - From comedian, actor, rapper and screenwriter Ben Bailey Smith comes the biggest middle grade debut of the year – a blazingly funny, big-hearted story about family, friendship and how far one boy will go to get a laugh.

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Reader Q & A with Dr Ranj Singh

Dr Ranj Singh and his book How to Grow Up and Feel Amazing

We all know Dr Ranj Singh from his work as a TV doctor, from This Morning to CBeebies, but he is also an NHS paediatrician and is now bringing his medical expertise and reassuring bedside manner to the topic of puberty with his new book.

Dr Ranj's How to Grow Up and Feel Amazing is a practical guide to growing up for tween and teen boys. It covers everything from the physical changes during puberty, to practical tips on how to look after your body and mental health, managing relationships and introductions to topics like consent, cybersafety, sex and privacy. 

Our reviewers loved the book saying:

"It's a great book and was very informative, relaxed and had a bit of humour. It made it much easier to have this conversation with my boy" lpwilford

"I have kept it and will read it over and over again throughout the years." Jpbwise, aged 12

"It is a very positive book, attempting get boys to be comfortable with who they are, whatever they may be like." rsa

Toppsta reviewer Rowan, aged 10, and his Mum read and reviewed this book for a Toppsta Giveaway. 

Mum, who is also a children's book blogger at nourishedbybooks.wordpress.com, said:

"This book covers absolutely everything you could possibly wish for, from the basic physical stuff to how pornography is different to reality, body image, and questioning sexuality. I really couldn’t have hoped for a better, more inclusive and diverse book to guide my son through this time." Nourishedbybooks

And Rowan said:

"I think this book was great for getting ready for puberty. I like that it has instructions on how to wet shave and explains the different type of spots you might get. I also like that it covers Internet issues like cyber bullies and cyber criminals." Nourishedrohan

Rowan also had the chance to ask Dr Ranj some questions about writing the book and his experiences growing up - read on for the full Q&A from Rowan, plus a few bonus questions from Mum too!

Toppsta
2021-05-12
Reader Q & A with Dr Ranj Singh
Toppsta Reviewer, Rowan, aged 10
Rowan, aged 10

1. What inspired you to write this book? 

Puberty is something we all go through, so you’d think we’d all have it sussed out, but it is still a really confusing time. Your body is changing rapidly, your mind is doing weird things, and in the meantime the world around you is throwing things at you every day. So I wanted to take what I had learned both from my own growing-up experience, as well as being a doctor who looks after children and young people, and pour it all into this book. 

Plus, I realised that there is so much out there in terms of help for girls during this time (quite rightly!), but little for boys in the same area. And what was there was a bit out of date. So I wrote something to address that need, but also made sure it was relevant right now.

2. Did you have to do lots of research to help you write the book? 

A lot of what I talk about is based on my own experiences growing up and so I didn’t really need to research that. However, there’s lots of factual information in the book as well as stuff that I didn’t have experience of when I was a child (like the internet), so that needed a bit of background work. I’ve tried to make sure that everything is not only useful, but also as up-to-date as possible for young people right now.


Toppsta
2021-05-12
Reader Q & A with Dr Ranj Singh

3. How long did it take you to finish the book? 

I started writing the book towards the end of 2019 and finished it in 2020, during the pandemic. What many people may not realise is that writing a book is a long process and you often go back and forth changing things and rewriting quite a bit. And then it goes off to be laid out and illustrated. It’s quite a full-on process, but the end result is amazing because you get a real sense of pride. So if you’re thinking of writing a book, be prepared to spend several months thinking, writing and revising it before it’s ready!

4. Did your own experience of puberty help you write the book? 

There is nothing in this book that I haven’t either gone through myself or dealt with in my professional career. So in that sense it’s all first-hand and coming straight from the horse’s mouth! I want the reader to feel like they can trust me, and the information I’m giving them. I’ve been there. I seen it or felt it. I’ve come through it. And I’m here to tell you how to do the same. 

Authenticity was really important to me. That means you’ll also hear about my own experiences and struggles growing up: my mental health challenges, how I discovered and accepted my sexuality, the ups and down of my relationships with my brothers, my struggles with body confidence, and also how I got better at studying to achieve my dream of becoming a doctor. 

5. Do you wish you had this book to help you when you went through puberty? 

Yes, for all the reasons above! I absolutely wish there had been a book like this I could have read when I was growing up. It’s really hard when you’re growing up and we all often struggle with actually talking about what we’re going through so I thought it was important to have a book that addresses all those things. I want this book to feel like that reassuring voice we all need at difficult or confusing times. It’s always nice to feel like someone is looking out for you and is there to explain everything!


Toppsta
2021-05-12
Reader Q & A with Dr Ranj Singh

6. Is it best to wet shave or dry shave?

There’s probably not a great deal of difference to be honest, so I say it depends on what you prefer. Whichever one you find easier and suits your routine! I used to wet shave, but now I dry-shave purely because it’s quicker and needs less preparation time.

7. Can you pop every type of pimple? 

Truth be told, you should try not to pop pimples at all because they can get infected or scar. Pimples usually heal by themselves anyway and the important thing is to just look after your skin as best you can (we talk about how to do that in the book). If your spots are really problematic then either speak to a pharmacist who might be able to recommend something to try, or you can speak to your doctor. We help people with skin problems out all the time – and you’d be surprised how much we can do to make things better.

8. How does a healthy relationship help with health? 

A healthy relationship is vital for both your physical and mental health. Mental health and wellbeing is probably the most important things to talk to children about right now. Especially given the events of the last year or so. 

We all understand the importance of physical health. Now we’re starting to realise that mental health is just as vital and enjoying healthy relationships and being able to discuss our feelings is part of that. 

These conversations are essential for all young people, but particularly boys who aren’t always given the space, time or permission to express their feelings. When we don’t learn how to do that when growing up, we carry those issues with us into adulthood when they can have a massive impact on our lives. 

I hope this book gives young boys the framework and courage to have those conversations and get any help they need. Mental health should be embedded into every school curriculum, but until then, this book should help! 


Toppsta
2021-05-12
Reader Q & A with Dr Ranj Singh

From Mum: 

1. Do you plan on writing a parents’ guide to puberty in today’s world? The influence of the Internet adds another dimension of complexities to negotiate, especially the dreaded Google searches! 

Lots of parents have messaged me to say that not only did their young person find the book helpful, but they did as well. So I’m not sure I need to write another one as this book seems to be useful for grown-ups too! I would recommend parents and carers have a quick read of it. You can use some of the topics covered as conversation starters, and you’ll be better prepared for any questions your kids might have.

2. I absolutely love that you address pornography and that you remove shame but address that it’s not a true representation of a loving and consensual relationship, are you finding a rise in teenagers or parents asking for help about this? 

There is a growing focus on sex and relationships as a whole because of the availability of things like online pornography, but also because young people are talking about it. I wanted to remove any taboo or embarrassment, but make sure that young people were better prepared when the time came. That’s why we have a big focus in the book on things like healthy relationships, safety and consent, respect and only doing things when you feel like you are ready. Plus, since things like pornography aren’t going anywhere, it’s important to educate young people about how to deal with some of the things they may inadvertently hear or see – and know how it differs from real life.

Toppsta
2021-05-12
Reader Q & A with Dr Ranj Singh
Book pages Placeholder Book

How to Grow Up and Feel Amazing!: The No-Worries Guide for Boys

How to Grow Up and Feel Amazing by Dr Ranj Singh is out now.

What does it mean to be a boy? And I'm not just talking about what you have between your legs, but what life is really like for boys. Growing up is a real minefield! So I've put everything I've learned both from my career as an NHS doctor and my own life experiences into this twenty-first century guide to being a boy.

It covers the obvious things like the physical changes you'll go through during puberty and adolescence (hello, pubic hair and voice breaking!), but also helps you to figure out how to manage your emotions, deal with friends and family and learn about healthy relationships.

Filled with easy-to-understand explanations, down-to-earth advice and cheeky illustrations, this growing-up guide by trusted paediatrician Dr Ranj is perfect for readers aged 10+ who want to discover the confidence to be the very best version of themselves.

Content includes:
- Puberty and physical development, including genital, skin, hair and voice changes
- Looking after your body, from shaving, good hygiene and healthy eating to body confidence and exercise
- Mental health awareness, including the importance of sleep, managing mood swings and anxiety
- Managing relationships, from parents and siblings to friends and crushes, and how to cope with bullying
- A sensitive, age-appropriate introduction to sex, consent and privacy
- Navigating the online world, including social media and cybersafety

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12th May 2021

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Featured Book
Something I Said
Something I Said

BOOK OF THE MONTH - From comedian, actor, rapper and screenwriter Ben Bailey Smith comes the biggest middle grade debut of the year – a blazingly funny, big-hearted story about family, friendship and how far one boy will go to get a laugh.

View book
Featured Books