The best books about trauma in early childhood and what to do to raise a healthy, happy child

The Books I Picked & Why

What Happened to You? Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing

By Oprah Winfrey, Bruce D. Perry

What Happened to You? Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing

Why this book?

What Happened to You? is both profound and easy to understand. Bruce Perry, one of the leading experts on early childhood trauma, has been a frequent guest of Oprah Winfrey, who has spoken many times about the trauma she experienced and the impact it had on her life. In this “conversation”, they explore what constitutes trauma, the effect it has on a person’s life, and how to find healing. Simply put, we need to change the question we ask of anyone who is struggling (especially a child) from “what’s wrong with you” to “what happened to you?” If you’re searching for understanding about your own behavior or that of someone you love, you may well find it here.


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The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind

By Daniel J. Siegel, Tina Payne Bryson

The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind

Why this book?

This book distills volumes of science about how the human brain develops into practical tools that parents can use on a daily basis. The Whole-Brain Child also includes information (often in the form of drawings) that can be shared with children, so they too can understand why they sometimes feel and do the things they do. How we raise and relate to our children matters; this book will help you understand just why, and give you concrete tools for enhancing your child’s emotional development.


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Educated: A Memoir

By Tara Westover

Educated: A Memoir

Why this book?

You will never forget this book. Tara Westover experienced heartbreaking trauma as a child and young adult growing up in an isolated, cult-like family, yet this book is anything but a downer. Westover’s story of hope, curiosity, growth, and healing is inspiring, and provides a real-life story of how one young woman, with little or no outside support, overcame huge obstacles to create a rewarding life. Absorbing and beautifully written, Educated will inspire you to be the best you can be, regardless of what might have come before this moment.


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The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity

By Nadine Burke-Harris

The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity

Why this book?

Dr. Harris is a world-changer. In her pediatric practice in an at-risk neighborhood in San Francisco, she saw young patients suffering challenges and illnesses that did not appear to be linked to any physical condition. She dug deeper, and discovered Adverse Childhood Experiences and the deep impact they can have on young lives. It is now her mission to educate doctors, who have not typically been trained in trauma or social and emotional challenges. Her book (and her TEDtalk on the same topic) is fascinating, exacting, and hopeful. Nadine Burke-Harris is now the first-ever Surgeon General of the State of California, and continues to educate parents and professionals about trauma and healing.


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The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog: And Other Stories from a Child Psychiatrist's Notebook: What Traumatized Children Can Teach Us About Loss, Love, and Healing

By Bruce D. Perry, Maia Szalavitz

The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog: And Other Stories from a Child Psychiatrist's Notebook: What Traumatized Children Can Teach Us About Loss, Love, and Healing

Why this book?

Despite its sobering title, this book is both uplifting and inspiring. Bruce Perry has worked with traumatized children for most of his professional career, and has trained hundreds of therapists and other professionals. These stories are both fascinating and hopeful, and provide a template for helping children who have been wounded by life and by those they trusted—and unfortunately, there are many such children in this world. Whether you’re a parent, a professional, or simply someone who wants to understand what happens to us along the road of life, this book is a valuable read.


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