The best books on parenting secrets from other cultures

Who am I?

I’m a Swedish American journalist, blogger, and author whose writings about Scandinavian parenting culture have appeared in newspapers, magazines, and online publications across the world, including,, and Green Child Magazine. I’m particularly interested in the role of nature in childhood and believe the best memories are created outside, while jumping in puddles, digging in dirt, catching bugs and climbing trees. In 2013, I started the blog Rain or Shine Mamma to inspire other parents and caregivers to get outside with their children every day, regardless of the weather. I’m currently working on my second book, about the Nordic outdoor tradition friluftsliv, which will be published by Tarcher Perigee in 2022.

I wrote...

There's No Such Thing as Bad Weather: A Scandinavian Mom's Secrets for Raising Healthy, Resilient, and Confident Kids (from Friluftsliv to Hygge)

By Linda Åkeson McGurk,

Book cover of There's No Such Thing as Bad Weather: A Scandinavian Mom's Secrets for Raising Healthy, Resilient, and Confident Kids (from Friluftsliv to Hygge)

What is my book about?

When Swedish-born Linda Åkeson McGurk moved to Indiana, she quickly learned that the nature-centric parenting philosophies of her native Scandinavia were not the norm. In Sweden, children play outdoors year-round, regardless of the weather. In the US, McGurk found the playgrounds deserted, and preschoolers were getting drilled on academics with little time for free play in nature. 

Struggling to decide what was best for her family, McGurk embarked on a journey to Sweden with her two daughters to see how their lives would change in a place where spending time in nature is considered essential to a good childhood. There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather is a fascinating personal narrative that illustrates how Scandinavian culture could hold the key to raising healthy, resilient, and confident children in America.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting (Now with Bébé Day by Day: 100 Keys to French Parenting)

Why did I love this book?

Bringing up Bébe is the mother of all international parenting books and it’s easy to understand why it’s still a huge bestseller. Pamela Druckerman masterfully weaves anecdotes from her personal experience as an American living with a baby in Paris with insights from French parents, psychologists, and pediatricians. The result is an irreverent and witty guide on raising kids who sleep through the night, eat their food, and don’t behave like brats. 

By Pamela Druckerman,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Bringing Up Bébé as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"On questions of how to live, the French never disappoint. . . . Maybe it all starts with childhood. That is the conclusion that readers may draw from Bringing Up Bebe." -The Wall Street Journal

"I've been a parent now for more than eight years, and-confession-I've never actually made it all the way through a parenting book. But I found Bringing Up Bebe to be irresistible." -Slate

The runaway New York Times bestseller that shows American parents the secrets behind France's amazingly well-behaved children, from the author of There Are No Grown-ups.

When American journalist Pamela Druckerman had a baby…

Book cover of The Danish Way of Parenting: What the Happiest People in the World Know about Raising Confident, Capable Kids

Why did I love this book?

Danish parenting advice is the best thing to come out of Denmark since hygge and in this book, authors Jessica Joelle Alexander and Iben Sandahl explain why. Stressing emotional health, free play, and – of course – hygge, The Danish Way of Parenting makes a strong case for a more empathetic way of raising children than the old school authoritarian style and gives parents practical tools to avoid yelling and spanking. A modern parenting classic with a decidedly Scandinavian flavor.

By Jessica Joelle Alexander, Iben Dissing Sandahl,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Danish Way of Parenting as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A shining alternative to high-stress modern parenting, and families from New Delhi to New York will shout with joy' Heather Shumaker, author of It's OK Not to Share and It's OK to Go Up the Slide


What makes Denmark the happiest country in the world -- and how do Danish parents raise happy, confident, successful kids, year after year? This upbeat and practical guide reveals the six essential principles that have been working for parents in Denmark for decades:

- Play: essential for development and well-being
- Authenticity: fosters…

Book cover of French Kids Eat Everything: How Our Family Moved to France, Cured Picky Eating, Banned Snacking, and Discovered 10 Simple Rules for Raising Happy, Healthy Eaters

Why did I love this book?

The title alone of this book was enough to get me hooked since my experience with young children was that they typically don’t eat anything – and I know I’m not alone. Le Billon gives us a peek into the culinary lives of French parents and shares her best tips for getting kids to not only eat what the adults eat, which in France may involve both beef tongue and smelly blue cheese, but also enjoy it. 

By Karen Le Billon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked French Kids Eat Everything as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Far too many parents face an ongoing struggle to get their kids to eat well, so why is it that French children gladly wolf down all the things our kids hate - the dreaded spinach or broccoli, fish, olives, salad...? In French Kids Eat Everything, Karen Le Billon shares her experience of moving to France and finding the inspiration to transform her family's approach to eating.

If you've ever tried hiding healthy foods in your kids' meals, bribing them to finish - or even start - something healthy, or simply given up in exasperation at your child's extensive list of…

Book cover of Achtung Baby: An American Mom on the German Art of Raising Self-Reliant Children

Why did I love this book?

Preschoolers who wield knives and start fires? Kids riding by themselves on the subway? Welcome to Germany, where “free range parenting” is the norm and free play takes priority over academic learning in the early years. Zaske’s journey as an American mom in Berlin is a fascinating and thought-provoking read that turns many of our preconceived notions about German culture and parenting on their head. Parents looking to raise confident, self-reliant children will likely take Zaske’s book to heart. 

By Sara Zaske,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Achtung Baby as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An entertaining, enlightening look at the art of raising self-reliant, independent children based on one Mum's experiences in Germany.

'Warm and companionable . . . I closed Achtung Baby feeling more relaxed and confident. While both my kids were up a tree.' - Helen Brown, Daily Mail

When Sara Zaske moved from Oregon to Berlin with her husband and toddler, she was surprised to discover that German parents give their children a great deal of freedom. In Berlin, kids walk to school by themselves, ride the subway alone, cut food with sharp knives and even play with fire. German parents…

Book cover of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

Why did I love this book?

Chua set off an international firestorm with her memoir, a frank account of the trials and tribulations of raising her two daughters the Chinese way in the U.S. Her strict, achievement-oriented parenting tactics often run counter to mainstream Western ideals about raising children and have drawn harsh criticism from many readers. Whether you agree with her methods or not, it’s impossible not to be touched by Chua’s book. 

By Amy Chua,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A SUNDAY TIMES AND NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER: the most talked-about book of the year 'Blissfully funny' India Knight, Sunday Times 'Entertaining, bracingly honest and, yes, thought-provoking' New York Times 'A treat from first to last: ruefully funny, endlessly self-deprecating, riven with ironies .. I relished this memoir' I Updated with a new postscript by Amy Chua and a letter from her eldest daughter, Sophia Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is a story about a mother, two daughters, and two dogs. It was supposed to be a story of how Chinese parents are better at raising kids than Western…

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And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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