The most recommended child psychology books

Who picked these books? Meet our 29 experts.

29 authors created a book list connected to child psychology, and here are their favorite child psychology books.
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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.

Who am I?

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 Building Resilience in Children and Teens: Giving Kids Roots and Wings

Jerilyn Marler Author Of Lily Hates Goodbyes

From my list on military families dealing with deployment.

Who am I?

I know the pain of separations. Navy doctor father. Missionary kid at boarding school in India. Military wife. Military mother. Separations suck. So when my three-year-old grandchild Lily struggled with her daddy’s deployment in 2010, I felt her pain. I composed the story and used personal photos to illustrate Lily Hates Goodbyes. Whenever we read about book Lily’s emotions, my Lily would say, “Just like me!” Wanting other children to have this cathartic experience, I hired Nathan Stoltenberg, a brilliant illustrator, and self-published the book. It’s available in a Navy version and an All Military version—the only difference is daddy’s uniform. Book Lily is a friend to young military children around the world. 

Jerilyn's book list on military families dealing with deployment

Jerilyn Marler Why did Jerilyn love this book?

I had the privilege of hearing Dr. Ginsburg speak years ago and immediately bought this book. I’ve relied on it ever since and wish every parent could have a copy. As a pediatrician specializing in Adolescent Medicine, Ginsburg’s perspective and wisdom focus on strengthening family connections. Chapter 22 is specifically about military children, although the whole book will provide value for every family.

By Kenneth R. Ginsburg,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Building Resilience in Children and Teens as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Help prepare the children and teens in your life to face life's challenges with grace and grit. In this award-winning guide author and pediatrician Dr. Ken Ginsburg shares his 7 crucial Cs: competence, confidence, connection, character, contribution, coping, and control. You'll discover how to incorporate these concepts into your parenting style and communication strategies, thereby strengthening your connection. And that connection will position you to guide your child to bounce back from life's challenges and forge a meaningful and successful life. You'll also learn detailed coping strategies to help children and teenagers deal with the stresses of academic pressure, media…


Book cover of Parent Nation: Unlocking Every Child's Potential, Fulfilling Society's Promise

John A. List Author Of The Voltage Effect: How to Make Good Ideas Great and Great Ideas Scale

From my list on changing the world and/or yourself.

Who am I?

My passion is using field experiments to explore economic questions. Since the early 1990s I have generated more than 200 papers published in academic journals using the world as my lab. That’s what we do as academics. The problem is that locked away in these journals is an enormous amount of wisdom and insights that can not only help the realm of academia, but also change the world as we know it. The brilliant authors of these books unlock the ideas and knowledge found in the academic papers that are full of jargon and math, aimed towards a narrow audience, and put them in language aimed towards the masses where real change can be implemented.  

John's book list on changing the world and/or yourself

John A. List Why did John love this book?

Parents are the foundation of our society. However, too many parents do not receive the support they need to meet the needs of their children.

Dr. Dana Suskind, my incredible wife, combines the latest science on the key role of parents in the development of children’s brains with stories of the experience of parents left shouldering this vital responsibility. Leaving parents unsupported is detrimental not only to children and families, but also society.

This book is essential for all members of society to read in order to understand why and, importantly, how we must support parents. Parent Nation provides a blueprint for a more sustainable future.

By Dana Suskind,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

***INSTANT New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestseller***

World-class pediatric surgeon, social scientist, and best-selling author of Thirty Million Words Dr. Dana Suskind returns with a revelatory new look at the neuroscience of early childhood development—and how it can guide us toward a future in which every child has the opportunity to fulfill their potential.

Her prescription for this more prosperous and equitable future, as clear as it is powerful, is more robust support for parents during the most critical years of their children’s development. In her poignant new book, Parent Nation, written with award-winning science writer…


Book cover of Children's Minds

Sue Palmer Author Of Toxic Childhood: How The Modern World Is Damaging Our Children And What We Can Do About It

From my list on child development and education.

Who am I?

As a primary head teacher, then literacy consultant, I wrote many books about education but at the age of 50 I changed tack. A meeting with a researcher who’d discovered an alarming decline in young children’s listening skills led to eight years’ research on the effects of modern lifestyles on children’s development. It involved many interviews with experts on diet, sleep, play, language, family life, childcare, education, screen-time, marketing influences and parenting styles – and a great deal of reading. By the time Toxic Childhood was first published in 2006 I’d realised that, in a 21st century culture, society should be paying far more attention to child development, especially in the early years. I hope to go on spreading that message until my dying breath.

Sue's book list on child development and education

Sue Palmer Why did Sue love this book?

I read Children’s Minds during the school summer holidays in 1979 and vividly remember sitting in the sunshine in Edinburgh’s Meadows, in floods of tears over Margaret Donaldson’s call to arms in her closing pages. Children’s Minds is a wonderful introduction to the science of child development (indeed, it profoundly affected the course of that science, particularly in terms of the development of thought and language). It’s wise, perceptive and a great read.  

By Margaret Donaldson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Children's Minds as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Margaret Donaldson's seminal work on child development, first published in 1978, has become a classic inquiry into the nature of human thought.

In this concise and brilliantly readable book, Margaret Donaldson shows that context is key when it comes to the development of language and thought, and how the right support can ensure children are skilled in these areas before they even start school. She revisits earlier theories of child development, notably those of Jean Piaget, to expose flaws in the accepted wisdom on child psychology and to suggest a range of new strategies to help children combat difficulties.

As…


Book cover of The Magic Years: Understanding and Handling the Problems of Early Childhood

Erica Komisar Author Of Chicken Little the Sky Isn't Falling: Raising Resilient Adolescents in the New Age of Anxiety

From my list on raising an emotionally resilient child.

Who am I?

Erica Komisar is a licensed clinical social worker, psychoanalyst, and parent guidance expert who has been in private practice in New York City for over 30 years. A graduate of Georgetown and Columbia Universities and The New York Freudian Society, Ms. Komisar is a psychological consultant bringing parenting and work/life workshops to clinics, schools, corporations, and childcare settings. She is a contributor to The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and The New York Daily News. She is a Contributing Editor to The Institute For Family Studies and appears regularly on Fox and Friends and Fox 5 News

Erica's book list on raising an emotionally resilient child

Erica Komisar Why did Erica love this book?

The best book I know to understand the emotions of toddlers and how to help regulate those emotions.  Fraiberg is brilliant at taking complicated psychoanalytic and attachment knowledge and putting it into a readable and accessible form to help everyone from clinicians to parents.

By Selma H. Fraiberg,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Synopsis coming soon.......


Book cover of Twins

Steph Mided Author Of Club Kick Out! Into the Ring

From my list on middle grade inspiring creativity in their readers.

Who am I?

I’ve been drawing and writing ever since I could hold a pencil, and a big inspiration for me to start my lifelong creative journey were graphic novels. So even as an adult, I love to read work from a wide range of genres and age ranges to see what my fellow authors and artists are up to. Especially making my own middle grade graphic novel series, I look up to so many of the authors and artists on this list and chances are you and your kids will too if you pick one of these up!

Steph's book list on middle grade inspiring creativity in their readers

Steph Mided Why did Steph love this book?

To me, Twins is an instant middle grade classic. It explores the relationship between two twin girls who are starting to be interested in different things after having spent years being on the same exact page.

I love that this book shows how people can approach creativity and life in different ways, most notably through a school campaign the two twins find themselves running in against each other. I think it’s a good reminder that we’re always changing and evolving, and while it can be scary, it’s ultimately worth embracing those changes. 

By Varian Johnson, Shannon Wright (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Twins as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

A heartfelt and delightful middle-grade graphic novel,
from the award-winning author Varian Johnson and rising cartoonist
Shannon Wright.
Maureen and Francine Carter are twins and best
friends. They participate in the same clubs, enjoy the same foods and are partners
on all their school projects.

But just before the girls start sixth grade, Francine becomes
Fran - a girl who wants to join the chorus, run
for class president and dress in fashionable outfits that set her
apart from Maureen. A girl who seems happy to share only two
classes with her sister!

Maureen and Francine are growing apart and…


Book cover of How to Raise Kids Who Aren't Assholes: Science-Based Strategies for Better Parenting--From Tots to Teens

Christia Spears Brown Author Of Unraveling Bias: How Prejudice Has Shaped Children for Generations and Why It's Time to Break the Cycle

From my list on raising bias-free kids.

Who am I?

Christia Spears Brown is an author, researcher, and professor of Developmental Psychology. She is also the Director of the Center for Equality and Social Justice at the University of Kentucky. She earned her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology at The University of Texas at Austin. Brown began her academic career on the faculty of the University of California at Los Angeles. Her research focuses on how children develop gender and ethnic stereotypes, how children understand gender and ethnic discrimination, and how discrimination and stereotypes affect children and teens’ lives. As part of her research on discrimination, she also examines the perpetration and acceptance of sexual harassment and how children understand politics, public policies, and societal inequalities.

Christia's book list on raising bias-free kids

Christia Spears Brown Why did Christia love this book?

Everyone wants to raise honest, generous, and kind kids, right?. And the science of parenting has a lot to say about the best ways to raise children who will care about others. Moyer, as a science journalist who focuses on parenting, draws from all of that research and boils down the best evidence-based strategies for raising compassionate, and anti-biased, kids.

By Melinda Wenner Moyer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How to Raise Kids Who Aren't Assholes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As featured in The Guardian, How to Raise Kids Who Aren't Assholes is a clear, actionable, sometimes humorous (but always science-based) guide for parents on how to shape their kids into honest, kind, generous, confident, independent, and resilient people . . . who just might save the world one day.

As an award-winning science journalist, Melinda Wenner Moyer was regularly asked to investigate and address all kinds of parenting questions: how to potty train, when and whether to get vaccines, and how to help kids sleep through the night. But as Melinda's children grew, she found that one huge area…


Book cover of Childhood and Society

Alice Sterling Honig Author Of Secure Relationships: Nurturing Infant/Toddler Attachment in Early Care Settings

From my list on deeply understanding infant and toddler development.

Who am I?

Dr. Alice Sterling Honig, Professor Emerita of Child Development at Syracuse University, has spent over a half century working with and studying young children and creating numerous courses on how best to nurture early development. She has lectured widely in many countries and is the author of over 600 articles and chapters, and dozens of books on children and their caregivers. For nearly 40 summers she conducted an annual workshop  “Quality caregiving for infants and toddlers”. As a licensed  New York State psychologist, she has worked with families to ameliorate troubles in development and behavior. In Beijing, she was invited to give the “Dr. Alice Honig award” to a prominent Chinese pediatrician. She was awarded the Syracuse University Chancellor’s Citation for Academic Excellence.

Alice's book list on deeply understanding infant and toddler development

Alice Sterling Honig Why did Alice love this book?

Erikson’s classic theoretical rubric clearly describes the positive and negative poles of social development across the life span. For the earliest years, these poles are: Trust vs. Mistrust; Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt, and Initiative vs. Guilt. Freudian psychosexual theories of development and cross-cultural practices are also discussed.

By Erik H. Erikson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The original and vastly influential ideas of Erik H. Erikson underlie much of our understanding of human development. His insights into the interdependence of the individuals' growth and historical change, his now-famous concepts of identity, growth, and the life cycle, have changed the way we perceive ourselves and society. Widely read and cited, his works have won numerous awards including the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award.

Combining the insights of clinical psychoanalysis with a new approach to cultural anthropology, Childhood and Society deals with the relationships between childhood training and cultural accomplishment, analyzing the infantile and the mature,…


Book cover of Beyond Behaviors: Using Brain Science and Compassion to Understand and Solve Children's Behavioral Challenges

Dona J. Matthews Author Of Being Smart About Gifted Learning: Empowering Parents and Kids Through Challenge and Change

From my list on loving and raising challenging kids.

Who am I?

I love prickly children. I was one myself, and I’ve quite a few of them in my family. I’ve also worked with desperate families over the years, children who are out of control, parents feeling overwhelmed, nobody knowing what to do to find the calm and loving core of connection we all yearn for. I feel the suffering these authors document—the child’s sense of being misunderstood and punished unfairly, and the parent’s desperation. So, when I read a book that offers intelligent and caring solutions driven by science, compassion, and experience, I share it with everyone who will listen. I’m delighted to have a chance here to do that.

Dona's book list on loving and raising challenging kids

Dona J. Matthews Why did Dona love this book?

In Beyond Behaviors, Mona Delahooke makes a clear, strong case for parents’ self-compassion and for parents’ compassionate responses to their children’s “bad” behavior. Using solid brain science evidence and case histories from her decades of working with very challenging kids, Dr. Delahooke illustrates that children begin to thrive when they feel understood—not judged, not punished—when they lose control. The reader comes to see that misbehavior is a precious clue to a child’s troubled inner reality. A parent’s impatience, irritation, annoyance, or anxiety not only exacerbates the problem, increasing the child’s suffering, but is also a sad, wasted chance at providing the sense of security the child needs, which is a necessary first step on the road to doing better. 

By Mona Delahooke,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Beyond Behaviors as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A NEW approach to solving behavioral challenges.

In Beyond Behaviors, internationally known pediatric psychologist, Dr. Mona Delahooke describes behaviors as the tip of the iceberg, important signals that we should address by seeking to understand a child’s individual differences in the context of relational safety.

Featuring impactful worksheets and charts, this accessible book offers professionals, educators and parents tools and techniques to reduce behavioral challenges and promote psychological resilience and satisfying, secure relationships.

Neuroscience-based effective tools and strategies for children labeled with:
- Conduct Disorder
- Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)
- Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (DMDD)
- Reactive Attachment Disorder…


Book cover of First Feelings: Milestones in the Emotional Development of Your Baby and Child

Alice Sterling Honig Author Of Secure Relationships: Nurturing Infant/Toddler Attachment in Early Care Settings

From my list on deeply understanding infant and toddler development.

Who am I?

Dr. Alice Sterling Honig, Professor Emerita of Child Development at Syracuse University, has spent over a half century working with and studying young children and creating numerous courses on how best to nurture early development. She has lectured widely in many countries and is the author of over 600 articles and chapters, and dozens of books on children and their caregivers. For nearly 40 summers she conducted an annual workshop  “Quality caregiving for infants and toddlers”. As a licensed  New York State psychologist, she has worked with families to ameliorate troubles in development and behavior. In Beijing, she was invited to give the “Dr. Alice Honig award” to a prominent Chinese pediatrician. She was awarded the Syracuse University Chancellor’s Citation for Academic Excellence.

Alice's book list on deeply understanding infant and toddler development

Alice Sterling Honig Why did Alice love this book?

Psychiatrist Dr., Greenspan illuminates in careful detail for parents six emotional milestones on an infant’s journey toward becoming a more self-regulated person with an organized sense of self. He provides positive and wise supports for parents to help each child along this pathway.

By Stanley I. Greenspan, Nancy Thorndike Greenspan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Greenspan outlines the six stages of emotional growth in early childhood and explores the ways in which they are communicated, emphasizing parental interaction as the key to a child's healthy, emotional maturation.