The best parenting books that will make you think (or re-think)

Who am I?

I love books and kids in all varieties and write for both adults and children. My parenting books It’s OK Not to Share and It’s OK to Go Up the Slide, promote play, conflict mediation skills, and no homework, and I’m a national speaker on early childhood education. My most recent book for children is the award-winning novel The Griffins of Castle Cary, an adventure featuring three kids, a Newfoundland dog, and a ghost problem. I’m a graduate of Swarthmore College and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and besides writing, I host two podcasts: BookSmitten (children’s books), and Renegade Rules (early childhood and parenting). Enjoy the books!

I wrote...

It's Ok Not to Share and Other Renegade Rules for Raising Competent and Compassionate Kids

By Heather Shumaker,

Book cover of It's Ok Not to Share and Other Renegade Rules for Raising Competent and Compassionate Kids

What is my book about?

Ready for respectful parenting? Discover the book that has helped thousands of families reject worn-out habits and bring renewed joy to life with young children. It’s OK Not to Share looks at commonly accepted practices and flips them upside down. It’s a celebration of play, but not a free-for-all. All feelings are OK. All behavior isn’t. Learn how to set key limits while welcoming play. Topics include sharing, rough-and-tumble play, weapon play, social rejection, sibling jealousy, and more. Available in paperback, ebook, audiobook, and five languages.

“The most engaging, validating and filled with Aha moments of all the parenting books I have read over 41 years.” – Preschool teacher

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk

Why did I love this book?

I love this book because it’s so darn sensible. It’s also written in an easy-to-relate style, and even if you “don’t have time to read a parenting book,” you can get quite a few of the main concepts by simply reading the comics. This book helps you see what bad habits you’ve fallen into, and how it’s quite possible to turn around your relationship with your child. Also look for their companion books which are equally good: Siblings Without Rivalry and How to Talk so Kids Can Learn At Home and in School.

By Adele Faber, Elaine Mazlish,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

30th Anniversary Edition updated with new insights from the next generation. You can stop fighting with your children! Here is the bestselling book that will give you the know-how you need to be more effective with your children--and more supportive of yourself. Enthusiastically praised by parents and professionals around the world, the down-to-earth, respectful approach of Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish makes relationships with children of all ages less stressful and more rewarding. Now, in this thirtieth-anniversary edition, these award-winning experts share their latest insights and suggestions based on feedback they've received over the years. Their methods of communication--illustrated with…

Book cover of The Case Against Homework: How Homework Is Hurting Our Children and What We Can Do about It

Why did I love this book?

This oft-neglected topic deserves adult attention. Why are we burning out our kids with homework, especially if it’s not necessary? I love this honest, pull-back-the-wool book which debunks assumption after assumption as it delves into all the not-so-good reasons why we assign homework to kids from preschool to high school. The authors are smart and plucky. If you have school-age kids in your life, you owe it to them to read this book.

By Sara Bennett, Nancy Kalish,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Case Against Homework as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Does assigning fifty math problems accomplish any more than assigning five? Is memorizing word lists the best way to increase vocabulary—especially when it takes away from reading time? And what is the real purpose behind those devilish dioramas?

The time our children spend doing homework has skyrocketed in recent years. Parents spend countless hours cajoling their kids to complete such assignments—often without considering whether or not they serve any worthwhile purpose. Even many teachers are in the dark: Only one of the hundreds the authors interviewed and surveyed had ever taken a course specifically on homework during training.

The truth,…

Book cover of No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame

Why did I love this book?

Author Janet Lansbury is a gem. She offers the exact lean-on-me confidence for parents that is both gentle and revolutionary. Janet deeply trusts kids and the power of relationships. Her methods work. Her approach is remarkably powerful. If you’ve never encountered Janet Lansbury before, try dipping into this book or her myriad other writings to try her philosophy, which is based on Magda Gerber’s teachings, a pioneer in child development.

By Janet Lansbury,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked No Bad Kids as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Janet Lansbury is unique among parenting experts. As a RIE teacher and student of pioneering child specialist Magda Gerber, her advice is not based solely on formal studies and the research of others, but also on her twenty years of hands-on experience guiding hundreds of parents and their toddlers. “No Bad Kids” is a collection of Janet's most popular and widely read articles pertaining to common toddler behaviors and how respectful parenting practices can be applied to benefit both parents and children. It covers such common topics as punishment, cooperation, boundaries, testing, tantrums, hitting, and more. “No Bad Kids” provides…

Book cover of Becoming the Parent You Want to Be

Why did I love this book?

This book is comprehensive and an excellent guide to cope with “all” your questions, from difficult behavior, fears, trouble with transitions, children’s bodies, weapon play, preferring one parent over another, you name it, this book covers it. I love this book because the authors do a wonderful job of explaining the underlying child development reasons behind baffling behaviors while giving you confidence at the same time.

By Laura Davis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Becoming the Parent You Want to Be as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Informative, inspiring, and enlightening, Becoming the Parent You Want to Be provides parents with the building blocks they need to discover their own parenting philosophy and develop effective parenting strategies.  Through in-depth information, practical suggestions, and many lively first-person stories, the authors address the many dilemmas and joys that the parent of young children encounter and demonstrate a range of solutions to the major issues that arise in the raising of babies, toddlers and preschoolers.  Full of warmth, clarity, humor, and respect, Becoming the Parent You Want to Be gives parents permission to be human: to question, to learn, to…

Between Parent and Child

By Haim G. Ginott,

Book cover of Between Parent and Child

Why did I love this book?

Here’s a classic that remains relevant today. Dr. Haim Ginott’s approach to parenting helps you gain more empathy and calm in your parenting by acknowledging feelings, responding in a way that builds trust, and stopping patterns that bring out difficult behaviors like lying and complaining. I love this book because it’s the foundation of so much respectful parenting, and Ginott remains a giant in the field. 

By Haim G. Ginott,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Between Parent and Child as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Strengthen your relationship with your children with this revised edition of the book by renowned psychologist Dr. Haim Ginott that has helped millions of parents around the world.

In this revised edition, Dr. Alice Ginott, clinical psychologist and wife of the late Haim Ginott, and family relationship specialist Dr. H. Wallace Goddard usher this bestselling classic into the new century while retaining the book’s positive message and Haim Ginott’s warm, accessible voice. Based on the theory that parenting is a skill that can be learned, this indispensable handbook will show you how to:
• Discipline without threats, bribes, sarcasm, and…

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