The most recommended developmental psychology books

Who picked these books? Meet our 25 experts.

25 authors created a book list connected to developmental psychology, and here are their favorite developmental psychology books.
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Book cover of Life Span Development: A Topical Approach

Judy Arnall Author Of Parenting With Patience: Turn frustration into connection with 3 easy steps

From my list on gentle, non-punitive, relationship-building parenting.

Why am I passionate about this?

Judy Arnall, BA, CCFE, DTM is a certified brain and child development specialist and master of non-punitive parenting and education practices. She is the bestselling author of 5 print books translated into 5 languages, including Discipline Without Distress and Parenting With Patience. She has also compiled a handy tips book titled Attachment Parenting Tips Raising Toddlers To Teens. Her latest book, Unschooling To University: Relationships matter most in a world crammed with content, is becoming a bestseller in an age of parents seeking educational options. She is the parent of 5 self-directed educated, attachment parented children of which 3 have already graduated university, 1 is halfway through, and 1 is enjoying a Masters program.

Judy's book list on gentle, non-punitive, relationship-building parenting

Judy Arnall Why did Judy love this book?

Every parent needs a good book on child development from the ages of birth to adulthood to understand how their child is growing in the physical, emotional, academic/cognitive, and social domains of development. When parents and caregivers understand what to expect at different ages, they can adapt their parenting decisions appropriately. Knowing if their child’s behaviour is a discipline issue that needs addressing or simply a development issue that will take care of itself, as a child ages, is the key to successful parenting.

By Robert Feldman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Life Span Development as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A brief, topical overview of life span development
Life Span Development: A Topical Approach helps students to see the "big picture" of development across the entire life span. Throughout this brief version of his hallmark text Development Across the Life Span, author Robert Feldman employs a modular framework that offers instructors maximum flexibility to teach the course however they envision. Concise coverage of all key principles helps instructors cover the whole of the field within a standard term, while a topical approach makes it easier for students to understand the scope of development within particular areas (such as social or…


Book cover of The Gardener and the Carpenter: What the New Science of Child Development Tells Us about the Relationship Between Parents and Children

Sophie Brickman Author Of Baby, Unplugged: One Mother's Search for Balance, Reason, and Sanity in the Digital Age

From my list on parenting that you actually want to read.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm the mother of three children, ages 6, 3, and 1, and because I tend to write about what interests me, started to investigate the world of parenting when my eldest was born. (Prior to that, I was a food reporter and editor.) As my husband, a tech entrepreneur, kept bringing home pieces of technology that were supposed to make my life easier (spoiler alert: they rarely did), I found myself urgently trying to figure out what was best for my kids, and myself: the boring pile of blocks, or the flashy, sexy iPad? I spent years delving into the fields of neurobiology, psychology, philosophy, and pediatrics to get a better handle on these questions

Sophie's book list on parenting that you actually want to read

Sophie Brickman Why did Sophie love this book?

Alison Gopnik is a towering figure in the field of developmental psychology, and interviewing her at her Berkeley lab was one of the highlights of my reporting for my own book. She tackles parenting from a particularly erudite and academic angle, pulling on psychology, evolutionary biology, and more to persuade parents that parenting is, in fact—and in her words—“a mug’s game.” We may think we are carpenters, building a perfect specimen of child, but in fact the best way to raise resilient, successful kids is to act like a gardener, providing the right environment in which they can thrive. I found it to be a particularly calming message, and one that will resonate with anyone who agonizes over minute decisions. 

By Alison Gopnik,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Gardener and the Carpenter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In The Gardener and the Carpenter, Alison Gopnik, one of the world's leading child psychologists, illuminates the paradoxes of parenthood from a scientific perspective and shatters the myth of "good parenting".

Caring deeply about our children is part of what makes us human. Yet the thing we call “parenting” is a surprisingly new invention. In the past thirty years, the concept of parenting and the multibillion-dollar industry surrounding it have transformed child care into obsessive, controlling, and goal-oriented labor intended to create a particular kind of child and therefore a particular kind of adult.

In The Gardener and the Carpenter,…


Book cover of Diary of a Baby: What Your Child Sees, Feels, and Experiences

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.

Why am I passionate about this?

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?

I love this book because it takes the observations and research of Daniel Stern’s The Interpersonal World of the Infant and puts it into readable and understandable language. This book helps parents to empathize with their young children, to understand how they are feeling and what they are thinking and to make attachment theory more real.

By Daniel N. Stern,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Every new parent desperately wants to know what goes on in the mind of a baby. Now a noted authority on infant development and psychiatry brings us closer than ever before to penetrating a your child's consciousness. In alternating sections of evocative prose, representing the baby's own voice, and explanatory text, Daniel Stern draws on the latest research findings to recreate the baby's world."


Mindleap: A Fresh View of Education Empowered by Neuroscience and Systems Thinking

By Jim Brown,

Book cover of Mindleap: A Fresh View of Education Empowered by Neuroscience and Systems Thinking

Jim Brown Author Of Mindleap: A Fresh View of Education Empowered by Neuroscience and Systems Thinking

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I have spent my entire professional life quietly patrolling the frontiers of understanding human consciousness. I was an early adopter in the burgeoning field of biofeedback, then neurofeedback and neuroscience, plus theory and practices of humanistic and transpersonal psychology, plus steeping myself in systems theory as a context for all these other fields of focus. I hold a MS in psychology from San Francisco State University and a PhD from Saybrook Institute. I live in Mount Shasta CA with Molly, my life partner for over 60 years. We have two sons and two grandchildren.

Jim's book list on brain, mind, and consciousness

What is my book about?

In this thoroughly researched and exquisitely crafted treatise, Jim Brown synthesizes the newest understandings in neuroscience, developmental psychology, and dynamical systems theory for educators and others committed to nurturing human development.

He explains complex concepts in down-to-earth terms, suggesting how these understandings can transform education to engender optimal learning and intelligence. He explores the nature of consciousness, intelligence, and mind.

Brown then offers a model of optimal human learning through lifelong brain development within a supportive culture--drawing on the work of Piaget, Erickson, Maslow, Kohlberg, and Steiner--and how that work is being vastly expanded by neuroscience and dynamical systems thinking.

Mindleap: A Fresh View of Education Empowered by Neuroscience and Systems Thinking

By Jim Brown,

What is this book about?

In this thoroughly-researched and exquisitely crafted treatise, Jim Brown synthesizes the newest understandings in neuroscience, developmental psychology, and dynamical systems theory for educators and others committed to nurturing human development. He explains complex concepts in down-to-earth terms, suggesting how these understandings can transform education to truly engender optimal learning and intelligence. He explores the nature of consciousness, intelligence, and mind. Brown then offers a model of optimal human learning through life-long brain development within a supportive culture--drawing on the work of Piaget, Erickson, Maslow, Kohlberg, and Steiner--and how that work is being vastly expanded by neuroscience and dynamical systems thinking.


Book cover of The Developing Mind: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are

Thomas R. Verny Author Of The Embodied Mind: Understanding the Mysteries of Cellular Memory, Consciousness, and Our Bodies

From my list on neuroscience and the mind.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a thirteen-year-old boy, I read Sigmund Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams and I became totally fascinated by Freud’s slow, methodical questioning that eventually revealed deeply hidden unconscious conflicts in the lives of his patients. Then and there I resolved to become a psychiatrist. As a psychiatrist, I explored my patients’ early memories. Over the years, I authored seven books, including The Secret Life of the Unborn Child, published in 28 countries now. I have previously taught at Harvard University, the University of Toronto, York University (Toronto), and St. Mary’s University. This book takes my studies of memory a step further and drills right down to the intelligence of cells.

Thomas' book list on neuroscience and the mind

Thomas R. Verny Why did Thomas love this book?

I am a great admirer of Dr. Siegel who is a clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine. This is a terrific book in which Siegel explores the role of interpersonal relationships in forging key connections in the brain. As he says, “Human connections shape neural connections, and each contributes to mind. Relationships and your personal linkages together shape the mind. It is more than the sum of its parts; this is the essence of emergence.” His description of brain architecture is excellent

Siegel’s emphasis on relationships is important and I fully agree with it. His take on the mind is interesting. He says, “The mind is a process that emerges from the distributed nervous system extended throughout the entire body and also from the communication patterns that occur within relationships.” I echo those sentiments in The Embodied Mind when I say that the mind is more…

By Daniel J. Siegel,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This highly influential work--now in a revised and expanded third edition incorporating major advances in the field--gives clinicians, educators, and students a new understanding of what the mind is, how it grows, and how to promote healthy development and resilience. Daniel J. Siegel synthesizes cutting-edge research from multiple disciplines, revealing the ways in which neural processes are fundamentally shaped by interpersonal relationships throughout life. And even when early experiences are not optimal, building deeper connections to other people and to one's own internal experience remains a powerful resource for growth. Professors praise the book's utility in courses from developmental psychology…


Book cover of Education for Thinking

Andrew Shtulman Author Of Scienceblind: Why Our Intuitive Theories about the World Are So Often Wrong

From my list on the cognitive foundations of science.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a professor of psychology at Occidental College, where I direct the Thinking Lab. I hold degrees in psychology from Princeton and Harvard and have published several dozen scholarly articles on conceptual development and conceptual change. I’m interested in how people acquire new concepts and form new beliefs, especially within the domains of science and religion. My research investigates intuitions that guide our everyday understanding of the natural world and strategies for improving that understanding.

Andrew's book list on the cognitive foundations of science

Andrew Shtulman Why did Andrew love this book?

Two skills fundamental to scientific reasoning are inquiry and argument. Inquiry is generating new information, and argument is using that information to justify and evaluate knowledge claims. Kuhn presents a framework for understanding these processes, as well as methods for teaching them. Her insights are grounded in science-education research demonstrating not only why inquiry and argument are challenging but also how they can be improved. Kuhn’s book fundamentally changed how I teach science to others. It provided me a way of organizing and motivating the various research methods I cover in my courses, as tools for building a collective body of knowledge.

By Deanna Kuhn,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Education for Thinking as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What do we want schools to accomplish? The only defensible answer, Deanna Kuhn argues, is that they should teach students to use their minds well, in school and beyond.

Bringing insights from research in developmental psychology to pedagogy, Kuhn maintains that inquiry and argument should be at the center of a "thinking curriculum"-a curriculum that makes sense to students as well as to teachers and develops the skills and values needed for lifelong learning. We have only a brief window of opportunity in children's lives to gain (or lose) their trust that the things we ask them to do in…


Book cover of When the Bough Breaks

Sam Baron Author Of The Murder Club

From my list on crime thriller series that aren’t afraid to explore darkness.

Why am I passionate about this?

Like my series protagonist, FBI Agent Susan Parker, I am neurodiverse and have dealt with traumatic family events. I have Asperger’s, dyslexia, ADD, and have battled depression and suicidal impulses in earlier years. As a child, I experienced many violent, traumatic events, including the traumatic death of my mother, abduction, and abuse. However, my personal story has a happy ending: I overcame all challenges to become a fully functional individual with a rich, fulfilling family life and a successful career. Not surprisingly, I became a crime thriller superfan. I gravitate toward books that don’t shy away from depicting darkness but find a way for the MC to return to the sunlight.

Sam's book list on crime thriller series that aren’t afraid to explore darkness

Sam Baron Why did Sam love this book?

I grew up in a very troubled family and witnessed a great deal of violence, intense emotional conflict, and several traumatic events. At the same time, I was forced to be the strong one and to provide emotional, psychological, and even financial support for my family even though I was the child and they the adults! I missed a lot of school and read every book I could lay my hands on. I guess it was a form of self-education, a quest to try to understand what was happening around me and why it was happening.

I came across this book at some point. As The Bough Breaks is the first book in Jonathan Kellerman's Alex Delaware Series. The series is about a child psychologist who treats troubled children, many of whom have been victims or witnesses to violent crimes or disturbed home environments. Kellerman is a child psychologist himself…

By Jonathan Kellerman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked When the Bough Breaks as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WHEN THE BOUGH BREAKS is the outstandingly original first novel in Jonathan Kellerman's bestselling Alex Delaware series. 'An engrossing thriller . . . This knockout of an entertainment is the kind of book which establishes a career in one stroke' (Newsday). From the New York Times No. 1 author of KILLER and BREAKDOWN, this gripping thriller is perfect for fans of Patricia Cornwell and Michael Connelly.

Seven-year-old Melody Quinn is the only witness of a horrific double murder but she can't or won't talk about what she saw. Child psychologist Alex Delaware is brought in to try and get through…


Book cover of The Empathy Effect: Seven Neuroscience-Based Keys for Transforming the Way We Live, Love, Work, and Connect Across Differences

Richard E. Boyatzis Author Of Helping People Change: Coaching with Compassion for Lifelong Learning and Growth

From my list on building leadership skills through models.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a professor and scientist, using my Intentional Change Theory (ICT), I have studied sustained desired change of individuals, teams, organizations, communities, and countries since 1967. I have authored more than 200 articles and 9 books on leadership, competencies, emotional intelligence, competency development, coaching, neuroscience, and management education (including the international best-seller, Primal Leadership with Daniel Goleman and Annie McKee and the recent Helping People Change with Melvin Smith and Ellen Van Oosten). I run several Coursera MOOCs, including Inspiring Leadership Through Emotional Intelligence which has over a million enrolled from 215 countries.

Richard's book list on building leadership skills through models

Richard E. Boyatzis Why did Richard love this book?

Of all of the competencies that repeatedly predict effective leadership and creating and maintaining of key relationships, is empathy. At the heart of any relationship and perhaps the only antidote to rampant narcissism in our society is empathy. As a prominent psychiatrist and scholar, Helen chronicles decades of research and explains the neural mechanisms that enable us to relate to others, build better relationships ad even inspire others. Her personal stories and those of patients and colleagues make the research come alive with compassion and meaning.

By Liz Neporent, Helen Riess,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"We are all connected on a neurobiological level far more than we have previously realized. Consciously or not, we are in constant, natural resonance with one another's feelings. When we are engaged in shared mind awareness, the possibilities for mutual aid and collaborative problem solving abound."
-Helen Riess, MD

A Revolutionary Guide for Understanding and Changing the Way We Connect

Empathy is undergoing a new evolution. In a global and interconnected culture, we can no longer afford to identify only with people who seem to be a part of our "tribe." As Dr. Helen Riess has learned, our capacity for…


Book cover of Nadia Revisited: A Longitudinal Study of an Autistic Savant

Ellen Winner Author Of How Art Works: A Psychological Exploration

From my list on the value of children’s art.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve had a life-long love affair with the arts. I intended to become an artist, but ultimately became a psychologist researching psychological aspects of the arts. My first book, Invented Worlds, examined the key questions and findings in the psychology of the arts. In Gifted Children: Myths and Realities, I wrote about gifted child artists. My Arts & Mind Lab at Boston College investigated artistic development in typical and gifted children, habits of mind conferred by arts education, and how we respond to works of art. The walls of my home are covered with framed paintings by young children, often side by side paintings by professional artists.

Ellen's book list on the value of children’s art

Ellen Winner Why did Ellen love this book?

Nadia was a severely autistic and mentally challenged child who, at age 3, drew horses that in important respects rivalled those by Leonardo da Vinci. Nadia was clearly a case of “savant syndrome” – an individual severely impaired in most areas but with one island of genius-level skill. Psychologist Lorna Selfe first wrote about this amazing case in 1977. In 2011, Selfe tells us what happened to Nadia’s drawing ability as she grew older and why her drawings regressed sharply to a more primitive level. This book will introduce you to the many theories put forth to explain this strange almost eerie phenomenon. It will help you think about the difference between artistic giftedness in the context of autism and mental challenges versus such giftedness in the context of an otherwise typically developing child.

By Lorna Selfe,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This book re-examines the case of Nadia, discovered as a child aged six, who had been drawing with phenomenal skill and visual realism from the age of three, despite having autism and severe learning difficulties. The original research was published in 1977 and caused great international interest. Nadia Revisited updates her story and reconsiders the theories that endeavour to explain her extraordinary talent.

As well as summarising the central issues from the original case study and presenting her remarkable drawings, the book explains Nadia's subsequent development and present situation in light of the recent research on autistic spectrum disorders and…


Book cover of The Psychology of Gratitude

Patrick M. Garry Author Of The Power of Gratitude: Charting a Path Toward a Joyous and Faith-Filled Life

From my list on gratitude and how it can uplift your life.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have published more than twenty books and hundreds of articles. But not one of those books and articles inspired the kind of devotion I felt toward The Power of Gratitude. In a way, this book encapsulates a lifetime of writing. It is the book I believe I was called to write.

Patrick's book list on gratitude and how it can uplift your life

Patrick M. Garry Why did Patrick love this book?

While we sometimes might think of gratitude as just a simple emotion or reaction, Emmons and McCullough show a much more complex side to gratitude. 

In this book, Emmons and McCullough explore the scientific and medical aspects of gratitude. The book helps the reader understand all the psychological and medical benefits produced by a life lived with gratitude.

By Robert A. Emmons (editor), Michael E. McCullough (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Gratitude, like other positive emotions, has inspired many theological and philosophical writings, but it has inspired very little vigorous, empirical research. In an effort to remedy this oversight, this volume brings together prominent scientists from various disciplines to examine what has become known as the most-neglected emotion. The volume begins with the historical, philosophical, and theoretical foundations of gratitude, then presents the current research
perspectives from social, personality, and developmental psychology, as well as from primatology, anthropology, and biology. The volume also includes a comprehensive, annotated bibliography of research on gratitude. This work contributes a great deal to the growing…


Book cover of Evolvagility: Growing an Agile Leadership Culture from the Inside Out

Lyssa Adkins Author Of Lead Together: The Bold, Brave, Intentional Path to Scaling Your Business

From my list on for leaders scaling themselves for their business.

Why am I passionate about this?

For over a decade I helped people develop their skills and expand their leaderful-ness in Agile Coaching and I kept hearing the same blocker: “This is great and all, but my leaders don’t get it. They are the impediment.” After working with many thousands of Agilists I decided to go into the “belly of the beast” and personally coach leadership teams. What I found were not beasts or even garden variety egomaniacs. Instead, I found well-meaning people who are genuinely confounded by the complexity of today’s business landscape and who struggle with performance-killing team dynamics. Good news: the human technology to “solve” these issues is widely available. We know how.

Lyssa's book list on for leaders scaling themselves for their business

Lyssa Adkins Why did Lyssa love this book?

This book gives the philosophical underpinning for why creating a leadership development culture in all parts of your organization is essential for working in our VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) business landscape. And, it shows you how to do it with specific practices and new-mindset concepts. It is geared toward organizations with Agile ways of working in the environment, but is also useful if Agile is not present. I especially enjoy the way several theories of adult development are interwoven in this book which makes using them to guide leadership development strategies (your own and others) simpler and more immediately applicable.

By Michael Hamman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Organizations around the globe are struggling to adapt to an increasingly complex and turbulent social, economic, technological, and business environment—whether they be banks, product development companies, or city councils. Many are responding by embracing agility as a way of working—some with a primary orientation around operational agility (Agile software development methods such as Scrum and SAFe), others focusing on customer development agility (e.g., Lean Startup), while others are embracing a broader business agility. In almost all of these cases, the prevailing notion of agility is concerned primarily with processes and practices, with systems and structures—a form of outer agility. But,…