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

The books I picked & why

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How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk

By Adele Faber, Elaine Mazlish,

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

Why 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.


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

By Sara Bennett, Nancy Kalish,

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

Why 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.


No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame

By Janet Lansbury,

Book cover of No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame

Why 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.


Becoming the Parent You Want to Be

By Laura Davis,

Book cover of Becoming the Parent You Want to Be

Why 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.


Between Parent and Child: The Bestselling Classic That Revolutionized Parent-Child Communication

By Haim G. Ginott,

Book cover of Between Parent and Child: The Bestselling Classic That Revolutionized Parent-Child Communication

Why 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. 


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in parenting, psychologist, and Christianity?

5,215 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about parenting, psychologist, and Christianity.

Parenting Explore 109 books about parenting
Psychologist Explore 22 books about psychologist
Christianity Explore 284 books about Christianity

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Hold on to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers, Free-Range Kids, How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry), and The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read: (and Your Children Will Be Glad That You Did) if you like this list.