If you’re like me (read: a millennial who grew up primarily in the ‘90s), you can probably relate to the confusing, overwhelming, and flat-out embarrassing experience of puberty. It was all just so hush-hush and isolating, to the point that it all felt really shameful.

I would have benefitted so much from a more open culture around the realities of puberty, from the changes in the way my body began to look, to the incredibly scary experience of starting periods. There was definitely a culture of shame and stigma firmly in place when I was growing up. That shame seemed to come from everywhere, and it made so many kids feel like there was something wrong with them. 

But now, as an adult, I realize that it all comes down to a lack of awareness about how bodies work. With more open conversations alerting kids (and, quite frankly, adults, too) to the biological realities of puberty, we can normalize the changes that happen in our bodies. And that would go so far in chipping away at the shame kids feel.

mom and daughter laughing at something on a mobile phone

That’s why I was so excited when I saw that Jessica Biel was writing a children’s book about periods. We need this. Kids need to be encouraged to learn about periods in a shame-free, non-clinical, nonjudgmental, and age-appropriate way, and this will certainly be a resource to support that.

Jessica Biel's new book offers kids an accessible and empowering introduction to periods.  

The book is to be titled simply A Kids’ Book About Periods. No ambiguity there. No cutesy little terms to signify periods or puberty, no sugarcoating what the material here will cover. According to PEOPLE, the book will be published by A Kids Co. this spring and will work to de-stigmatize the topic of menstruation for young readers. The book is in partnership with Period.org, a menstrual movement committed to eradicating period poverty and stigma.

"People don't talk enough about periods,” Biel said during an interview with PEOPLE. “I’ve always felt strongly that we need to normalize the discussion around periods and as a parent, writing this book felt like an organic way to engage kids in the conversation from early on.”

Biel also shared an Instagram video of herself sharing more details about the book, pointing out that “People don’t talk enough about periods. PERIOD,” in her caption. 

young woman hiding behind a book

“It’s really cool because it’s supposed to be a conversation starter about our bodies, how they work, and how we can empower the next generation with positive information — normalizing, destigmatizing this thing called ‘a period’.” she says in the video. “Because it’s normal. Half of the population actually experiences this every month.”

It’s worth noting that Biel is a boy mom — she has two sons, and presumably, they’re her inspiration when thinking about the kind of content kids need right now. That’s just one small part of why this is all so important — because we don’t just need to educate girls about the realities of their own bodies. It’s also key that we make boys aware of how periods work, and just how normal they are. We need all kids, not just menstruating girls, to understand that periods are not gross or embarrassing, they’re just a biological reality.

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The gender-neutral language Biel used when announcing the book wasn’t lost on people. “Kids book”….”we need to talk to our kids”….”so many kids experience this”….not once using the word GIRL. When talking about a book regarding GIRLS having periods. 😐 yes…let’s “normalize,” one social media user commented. Of course, one commenter took issue with this, but others quickly set this straight: “because boys need to be educated about periods too. The stigma can only be lifted if boys understand its normal and not tease girls about it. We need to raise men who can maturally handle these topics,” another user replied.

mom and daughter smiling at the camera

Biel also shared a GRWM video while telling the story of getting her first period, and it’s so relatable). "I was so scared,” she said. “I locked myself in the bathroom. I was crying hysterically, I called my mom. I told her, you know, 'Something's wrong.' That's what I felt, I felt like something was wrong with me. Even though she had prepared me, I wasn't prepared."

And that is why we need a book like this. Because so many kids are scared. So many kids are unprepared to deal with their period, or a classmate’s period. And that needs to change.

Zara Hanawalt is a freelance journalist and mom of twins. She's written for outlets like Parents, MarieClaire, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Motherly, and many others. In her (admittedly limited!) free time, she enjoys cooking, reading, trying new restaurants, and traveling with her family.