We Recommend: How to Understand Girls, 8-Year-Old Boy Edition

It’s We Recommend! In which we post a request that's been sent to us, and do our best to get that person the right book. Know a kid who needs a book to read? Send us (thediamondinthewindow (at) gmail (dot) com) his or her likes, dislikes, favorites, quirks, and any other reading information that might be helpful, and we will think on it, and pose it to our oh-so-helpful readers. And look in the comments—all the best recommendations are there.

Hello, you old-fashioned readers of blogs, you! I'm still here, writing a blog! I promise that this time I'll make it worth your while, because we have a really interesting request, guaranteed to make you think hard about books, gender, age, and humanity—everything you like! Maybe!

My eight year old grandson has many interests and reads above grade level. He enjoys nonfiction right now having recently finished Harry Potter and wanting a change. Since he has a crush on a girl in his second grade class, he asked for some books that would help him understand her and girls in general! A friend told him to read the Dork diaries, but I know that is not where he needs to be so any suggestions will be appreciated.

Wow. The old "Help me understand girls" dilemma. Often also phrased as "Help me understand boys." Or just "Help" for short.

I've been thinking about this for a few days, and here's what I've come up with. 

1) There is no such thing as understanding girls. 

See, the premise of the the Dork Diaries is that there is a class of human beings, girls, and they act a certain way, and this is so funny, ha ha!

But of course, what he really wants is to understand the girl in his class, and what do we know about her? Nothing! It's (comparatively) easy to "understand" groups of people rather than a specific person. For example, in some countries, "groups of people" will be offended if a woman has uncovered hair. We can understand this. But that doesn't help us to understand a specific person in that country very much; it might help to know that this is a belief in his country, just as it might help this boy to know the burden of stereotyping and society and who knows what else that have gone into forming this girl. But it won't help him understand her attachment to, say, Barbies or Star Wars or dogs. Or that she likes cookies, or is the youngest and is bossed around all the time, or is exceptionally strong, and likes to push heavy things.

The only way (I think) to understand girls, or at least to understand a girl, or to try to understand this girl in particular, is to know her.

However (oooh, I feel like the Wizard of Oz now), I do have something that might help him understand that girls are, after all, people, and as such are difficult to understand, and yet well worth it. That is, a book that is about not girls in general, but a girl in particular, and such a fully realized and true girl that it will help remind him that they (we) are simply people, like himself.


The other advice I would give him (that we should be clear would work with me and might not work with all girls, but is worth a try): bring an extra cookie and offer it to her. That goes a long way in connecting to others.

Do you have other ideas? Complementary? Contradictory? Put them in the comments, please!

7 thoughts on “We Recommend: How to Understand Girls, 8-Year-Old Boy Edition

  1. Diamond, this one stumped me. And you picked the best book as a suggestion. And Harriet the Spy is a great one too. I’ve been thinking and thinking and I’ve thought of Ivy and Bean (which is easy for this precocious reader, but good).
    Hope that helps!


  2. Right away I thought of the Al books by Constance C. Greene…but I’m not sure if they’re appropriate for an 8 year old boy. I know in the second book of the series the girls talk about getting their periods.


  3. Personally I’m not a fan of Ivy and Bean. I might suggest the Clementine series. What about The Sisters Eight series too, that’s a great series.


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