100 books like Playful Parenting

By Lawrence J. Cohen,

Here are 100 books that Playful Parenting fans have personally recommended if you like Playful Parenting. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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

Alyssa Campbell Author Of Tiny Humans, Big Emotions: How to Navigate Tantrums, Meltdowns, and Defiance to Raise Emotionally Intelligent Children

From my list on raising emotionally intelligent humans.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been drawn to babies and toddlers and fascinated by the development that happens in the early years of life. This fascination led me to become a teacher, parent, and emotional development expert with a master's degree in early childhood education. Eventually, my passion for this field led me to co-create the Collaborative Emotion Processing method and research it nationwide. The research results were compelling, and so began my mission to share it with the world.

Alyssa's book list on raising emotionally intelligent humans

Alyssa Campbell Why did Alyssa love this book?

I love this book because it explains how a child’s brain works and what they need to access self-control. It gave me insight into why I saw challenging behaviors even when the child “knew better.”

I loved that when I finished reading it, I felt like I had actionable strategies for supporting my child’s mental well-being while navigating tantrums and meltdowns. 

By Daniel J. Siegel, Tina Payne Bryson,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked The Whole-Brain Child as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this pioneering, practical book for parents, neuroscientist Daniel J. Siegel and parenting expert Tina Payne Bryson explain the new science of how a child's brain is wired and how it matures. Different parts of a child's brain develop at different speeds and understanding these differences can help you turn any outburst, argument, or fear into a chance to integrate your child's brain and raise calmer, happier children.

Featuring clear explanations, age-appropriate strategies and illustrations that will help you explain these concepts to your child, The Whole-Brain Child will help your children to lead balanced, meaningful, and connected lives using…


Book cover of Brain-Based Parenting: The Neuroscience of Caregiving for Healthy Attachment

Darcia Narváez Author Of Neurobiology and the Development of Human Morality: Evolution, Culture, and Wisdom

From my list on neuroscientific parenting.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am passionate about raising each human being for lifelong wellbeing and a full set of intelligences. High-income nations don’t do this so much anymore. I conduct empirical studies with children, parents, and other adults to examine how early experience affects capacities for getting along in life and with others. My book has won awards for its holistic view, integrating neuroscience, anthropology, and developmental science. This work led me to start the Evolved Nest website with lots of resources for parents and for all who care about human wellbeing. Humanity is facing many challenges and we need everyone’s gifts to be well grown to help us solve the problems we face.

Darcia's book list on neuroscientific parenting

Darcia Narváez Why did Darcia love this book?

My students love this book. It takes the inside perspective of both the parent and the child in stressful situations and guides the reader on how to act in a way that builds connection and relationship. It is easy to read with lots of real-life examples.

By Daniel A. Hughes, Jonathan Baylin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Brain-Based Parenting as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this groundbreaking exploration of the brain mechanisms behind healthy caregiving, attachment specialist Daniel A. Hughes and veteran clinical psychologist Jonathan Baylin guide readers through the intricate web of neuronal processes, hormones and chemicals that drive-and sometimes thwart-our caregiving impulses, uncovering the mysteries of the parental brain.

The biggest challenge to parents, Hughes and Baylin explain, is learning how to regulate emotions that arise-feeling them deeply and honestly while staying grounded and aware enough to preserve the parent-child relationship. Stress, which can lead to "blocked" or dysfunctional care, can impede our brain's inherent caregiving processes and negatively impact our ability…


Book cover of The Science of Parenting: How Today S Brain Research Can Help You Raise Happy, Emotionally Balanced Childr

Darcia Narváez Author Of Neurobiology and the Development of Human Morality: Evolution, Culture, and Wisdom

From my list on neuroscientific parenting.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am passionate about raising each human being for lifelong wellbeing and a full set of intelligences. High-income nations don’t do this so much anymore. I conduct empirical studies with children, parents, and other adults to examine how early experience affects capacities for getting along in life and with others. My book has won awards for its holistic view, integrating neuroscience, anthropology, and developmental science. This work led me to start the Evolved Nest website with lots of resources for parents and for all who care about human wellbeing. Humanity is facing many challenges and we need everyone’s gifts to be well grown to help us solve the problems we face.

Darcia's book list on neuroscientific parenting

Darcia Narváez Why did Darcia love this book?

I keep a pile of this book on my shelf to give away to new parents and grandparents. It is fun to flip through and see what catches your eye. It has lots of photos and diagrams that make it easy to understand. It has easy-to-read descriptions of young children’s needs in light of their brain development. It is the closest to outlining the evolved nest that young children need. And it is inexpensive!

By Margot Sunderland,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

It's time to re-write the rule book on raising a child. Based on over 700 scientific studies into children's development, BMA award-winning author and child psychotherapist Dr. Margot Sunderland explains how to develop your child's potential to the full. Find out the truth about popular childcare tactics, how touch, laughter and play build emotional wellbeing for life, and the strategies for effectively dealing with temper tantrums and tears. This is the first practical parenting book to give you the facts, not the fiction on the best way to bring up your child, essential for any parent.


Book cover of The Child with Special Needs: Encouraging Intellectual and Emotional Growth

Darcia Narváez Author Of Neurobiology and the Development of Human Morality: Evolution, Culture, and Wisdom

From my list on neuroscientific parenting.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am passionate about raising each human being for lifelong wellbeing and a full set of intelligences. High-income nations don’t do this so much anymore. I conduct empirical studies with children, parents, and other adults to examine how early experience affects capacities for getting along in life and with others. My book has won awards for its holistic view, integrating neuroscience, anthropology, and developmental science. This work led me to start the Evolved Nest website with lots of resources for parents and for all who care about human wellbeing. Humanity is facing many challenges and we need everyone’s gifts to be well grown to help us solve the problems we face.

Darcia's book list on neuroscientific parenting

Darcia Narváez Why did Darcia love this book?

Stanley Greenspan was a phenomenal insightful physician who started “floor time” to connect with and support children with special needs. This book lays out the general technique with case studies as example. Most importantly, the method is not rigid but guides parents on how to be uniquely sensitive to their child.

By Stanley I. Greenspan, Serena Wieder, Robin Simons

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Child with Special Needs as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Stanley Greenspan, internationally known for his work with infants, young children, and their families, and his colleague, nationally recognized child psychologist Serena Wieder, have for the first time integrated their award-winning research and clinical experience into a definitive guide to raising children with special needs. In this essential work they lay out a complete, step-by-step approach for parents, educators, and others who work with developmental problems. Covering all kinds of disabilities,including autism, PPD, language and speech problems, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, and ADD,the authors offer a new understanding of the nature of these challenges and also specific ways of helping…


Book cover of Ruby's Sword

Rachel Greening Author Of If My Oak Tree Could Speak

From my list on turning natural world into imaginative wonderland.

Why am I passionate about this?

I live in my imagination. I never really grew out of seeing imaginary friends and fantastical elements in the world. Every budding flower or dancing sun shadow is a call to create. This is why I find children’s literature so thrilling and why my own writing often resides within the realm of make-believe. I love kids lit because it allows a grown-up like me to be a kid again – even if it’s just for a few pages.

Rachel's book list on turning natural world into imaginative wonderland

Rachel Greening Why did Rachel love this book?

Ruby’s Sword explores the type of imaginative play that can be had with natural world elements. Letting your kids explore nature in a tangible way does wonders for their learning and ingenuity. A simple stick turns into a sword, turning a little girl into a gallant knight. Our children do not need colourful plastic toys to have fun. All they need is a little fresh air and something as simple as a stick. Once my family moved out to the country, I saw my children transform before my eyes. Rocks have become treasures and bugs their newest friends. With the first signs of spring, socks are flung aside as their naked toes seek sand and grass. Let your kids fall in love with nature and it will be a love affair that lasts a lifetime. 

By Jacqueline Veissid, Paola Zakimi (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ruby's Sword as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, and 5.

What is this book about?

Ruby is always racing after her big brothers. But no matter how hard she tries, she can never catch up. Then one day, she discovers some sticks in the grass. Not just any sticks-swords! And suddenly the world is her kingdom. Readers will cheer on Ruby's perseverance and creativity as they delight in the antics of the adorable animals that join her along the way. Anyone who has ever imagined themselves the star of their own swashbuckling adventure will find this sweet book irresistible.


Book cover of Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life

Sara Zaske Author Of Achtung Baby: An American Mom on the German Art of Raising Self-Reliant Children

From my list on raising self-reliant children.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a writer who lived in Germany for more than six years with my family. That experience opened my eyes to a different way of parenting in a country that had learned hard lessons about too much authoritarian control. It also taught me that much of what we believe is “true” about raising kids is actually cultural—and therefore, can be changed. In addition to my book about raising kids in Germany, Achtung Baby, I’ve written extensively on raising self-reliant kids, including articles in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Time.com among others.

Sara's book list on raising self-reliant children

Sara Zaske Why did Sara love this book?

An evolutionary psychologist, Gray argues that human children, like all mammals, learn best through play. He advocates for a learning process that is kid- and play-driven. Using an innovative school as a model, Gray makes a compelling case for revolutionizing education by putting it in the hands of the kids themselves. Even if you can’t send your child to one of these schools, this book will give you many ideas on how to let your kids take charge of their own academic interests and pursuits which will ultimately help them grow up to take better charge of their own lives and happiness.

By Peter Gray,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Free to Learn as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Free to Learn , developmental psychologist Peter Gray argues that in order to foster children who will thrive in today's constantly changing world, we must entrust them to steer their own learning and development. Drawing on evidence from anthropology, psychology, and history, he demonstrates that free play is the primary means by which children learn to control their lives, solve problems, get along with peers, and become emotionally resilient. A brave, counterintuitive proposal for freeing our children from the shackles of the curiosity-killing institution we call school, Free to Learn suggests that it's time to stop asking what's wrong…


Book cover of Can I Play Too?

Andrew Wald Author Of A Surprising Friendship

From my list on friendship and diversity.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a psychotherapist working with individuals and couples since 1974 and have had over 57,000 sessions. How people relate to one another has been a fascination of mine since I was a youngster growing up in a suburb of Chicago. I believe that we are “wired” for relationships of all kinds and it takes a conscious effort to see the best in each other for them to thrive. Differences can be the spice of a relationship, not the division of them. My book, my practice, and my life focuses on those concepts. In 2012, I co-authored a popular book on relationships, Togetherness: Creating and Deepening Sustainable Love.

Andrew's book list on friendship and diversity

Andrew Wald Why did Andrew love this book?

This simple, sweet, picture book, like others in the Elephant and Piggy series, deals with different animals who are trying to solve a problem together. I liked the book because it portrays how differences don’t matter when you care about another. To show how differences can be overcome and not be reasons to divide is wonderful, especially when the concept is shown to the very young reader.

By Mo Willems,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Can I Play Too? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, 5, and 6.

What is this book about?

Perfect for children just learning to read, this highly original book is told entirely in speech bubbles with a repetitive use of familiar phrases. From the award-winning author of Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!
Gerald is careful. Piggie is not.
Piggie cannot help smiling. Gerald can.
Gerald worries so that Piggie does not have to.
Gerald and Piggie are best friends.

In Can I Play Too? Gerald and Piggie meet a new friend, Snake, who wants to join in a game of catch. But don't you need arms to catch...? Mo Willems creates another hilarious escapade starring the…


Book cover of How Tom Beat Captain Najork

Richard Scrimger Author Of At the Speed of Gus

From my list on neurodivergent voices, quirky, heartbreaking.

Why am I passionate about this?

I can’t count the number of conversations where I’ve been asked to slow down, or take a breath, or talk in a straight line. My neurodivergent heroes are versions of me: me if I were an alien, or a dying old lady, or a zombie. Gus is the closest I’ve come yet to writing my true self. He’s just me. I want readers who identify with Gus to feel seen and accepted and those who don’t—to understand what it’s like to live like this. And, just maybe, to have a little fun along the way. 

Richard's book list on neurodivergent voices, quirky, heartbreaking

Richard Scrimger Why did Richard love this book?

Tom is the hero we need today. I love characters who know who they are and don’t care what others think of them. And I value ‘fun’ as a goal.

Tom just wants to fool around and yawns at his aunt’s disapproval. The contests between Tom and his aunt’s champion, Captain Najork, are the best descriptions of games I’ve ever read, especially when you consider that the games themselves are invented out of whole cloth and the words applied seemingly at random. 

By Russell Hoban, Quentin Blake (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How Tom Beat Captain Najork as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

Tom is so good at fooling around that he does little else. His Aunt Fidget Wonkham-Strong, who thinks this is too much like having fun, calls upon the fearsome Captain Najork and his hired sportsmen to teach him a lesson. So the Captain challenges Tom to three rounds of womble, muck, and sneedball, certain that he will win. However, when it comes to fooling around, Tom doesn't fool around, and his skills prove so polished that the results of the contest are completely unexpected...


Book cover of Chirri & Chirra, the Rainy Day

Hyewon Yum Author Of Puddle

From my list on rainy days.

Why am I passionate about this?

I hate rainy days, I check the weather forecast diligently to make sure I don’t have to go out on a rainy day. However I became a mother of two boys and with little kids, I had to go out rain or shine. My kids don’t get bothered by the rain, they rather love it, so I learned to enjoy the rainy days just like the grumpy old man from RainI And we enjoyed rainy day activities like drawing, reading about rainy day stories while cuddling on the sofa. These books remind me of those happy rainy days and they will certainly brighten up your rainy days.

Hyewon's book list on rainy days

Hyewon Yum Why did Hyewon love this book?

These two girls’ everyday adventure series! I adore these twin books since I am a twin myself! Color penciled illustration is always beautiful but I like how Kaya draws the rain here. You can see a drizzle, a shower, a downpour, and even an upside-down rain here. Surely the rain hater like myself can become a rain person.

By Kaya Doi, David Boyd (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Chirri & Chirra, the Rainy Day as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One cloudy day, Chirri & Chirra decide to go out on their bicycles. Dring-dring, dring dring! It's already starting to rain. As is each of their adventures, this one is completely magical and full of wonder. It is also set in a world where, as if by magic (though perhaps it's the force of the creative imagination?), they always find what they need. Pedaling along, they discover a shop. What luck! The sign says it's only open on rainy days. How perfect. Chirri & Chirra order tea. Each is served tea with a bowl of sweet ice rocks. It's a…


Book cover of Eat Pete

Keiko Kasza Author Of My Lucky Day

From my list on with humor and twist endings.

Why am I passionate about this?

Keiko Kasza is an award-winning author/illustrator of picture books. Though she uses animals as her book characters, the subjects are always related to issues that young children face. Humor and a surprise ending are the signatures of her work.   

Keiko's book list on with humor and twist endings

Keiko Kasza Why did Keiko love this book?

A monster goes to Pete’s house with the intention to eat him. Pete asks the monster to play with various games and toys. The monster reluctantly does so, but each time the text goes, “He didn’t want to play...because he wanted to...EAT PETE!” Then something shocking happens – he eats Pete! Let me assure you, though, the ending is very sweet.  

By Michael Rex,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Eat Pete as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 2, 3, 4, and 5.

What is this book about?

From the creator of Goodnight Goon, a laugh-out-loud friendship story that perfectly captures the high and low moments of a typical playdate!

Pete couldn't be more thrilled when a monster shows up in his bedroom. Now Pete has someone to play with! And the hungry monster couldn't be more thrilled to be there, either. Now he can . . . EAT PETE!

But Pete has other ideas. And they are all good fun and quite distracting--things like playing cars and pirates. Well, we all know the course of playing together nicely never did run smoothly. So how much longer will…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in play and playing, parenting, and neuroscience?

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