The most recommended parenthood books

Who picked these books? Meet our 11 experts.

11 authors created a book list connected to parenthood, and here are their favorite parenthood books.
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Book cover of Small Animals: Parenthood in the Age of Fear

Bethany Ball Author Of The Pessimists

From my list on surviving or being obliterated by domestic life.

Who am I?

Although I was raised without a religion, for more than half my life I’ve been involved in meditation and yogic communities. I have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly 

Bethany's book list on surviving or being obliterated by domestic life

Bethany Ball Why did Bethany love this book?

If you are a Gen Xer like me and you wax nostalgia about the freedom of the mothers of your childhood vs. the shackles of parenting in the early twenty-first century as I have, Kim Brooks’ book is for you. Kim made the most grievous error a parent can make today: she left her four-year-old in her minivan in the parking lot of a rural Target so she could quickly grab an item. Though her child was fine, someone called the police. This event sent Kim down a rabbit hole to find out: is the American childhood as dangerous as people think? Her remarkable, thought-provoking book argues that childhood is remarkably safe, children should be exploring their environs, and some form of free-range parenting for many parents and kids should be the norm rather than the exception. This has been my philosophy since having children, and I was happy to…

By Kim Brooks,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

One cool spring morning, Kim Brooks made a split-second decision to leave her four-year-old son in the car while she ran into a store. What happened would consume the next several years of her life and ultimately motivated her to begin writing about the broader subject of parenthood and fear. In Small Animals, Brooks asks, Of all the emotions inherent in parenting, is there any more universal or profound than fear? To be a parent is to be afraid. And yet, the objects and intensity of our fear vary based on culture, temperament, and the historical moment in which we…


Book cover of No More Perfect Kids: Love Your Kids for Who They Are

Wendy Speake Author Of Triggers: Exchanging Parents' Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses

From my list on for gentle Christian parenting.

Who am I?

Before becoming a mom, my career was as an actress in Hollywood. Once I took on the role of Mother, however, I stepped off of the stage and onto the page. Telling stories about my weary-making days raising children allowed me to encourage other moms to persevere in doing right even when their own kids do wrong. I wrote Triggers with Amber Lia in 2016 and it has been a best-selling parenting resource year after year.

Wendy's book list on for gentle Christian parenting

Wendy Speake Why did Wendy love this book?

Mom and dad, your kids are created in God's image, not your own. Jill Savage and Kathy Koch will guide you in truly appreciating your kids. They will teach you how to study and become an expert on your children, because you cannot fully embrace them until you truly know them. In No More Perfect Kids, Jill Savage and Kathy Koch equip us with the tools and perspective to:

Identify and remove the Perfection Infection from our parenting
Release our children from unrealistic expectations
Answer the questions our kids are silently asking in a way that gives them the courage and freedom to be themselves
Meet the needs of our children, including those with special needs

Written in a passionate, candid, and personal tone, the authors will instill within you hope and contentment. You'll be inspired to apply the practical, realistic, and relevant ideas and tactics Jill and Kathy…

By Jill Savage, Kathy Koch,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked No More Perfect Kids as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Love your kids for who they are.

Mom and dad, your kids are created in God's image, not your own. Jill Savage and Kathy Koch will guide you in truly appreciating your kids. They will teach you how to study and become an expert on your children, because you cannot fully embrace them until you truly know them.

In No More Perfect Kids, Jill Savage and Kathy Koch equip us with the tools and perspective to:

Identify and remove the Perfection Infection from our parenting Release our children from unrealistic expectations Answer the questions our kids are silently asking in…


Book cover of Spirit Babies: How to Communicate with the Child You're Meant to Have

Claudia Amendola Alzraa Author Of Intuitive Tarot 101: A self-study journey through the tarot

From my list on past lives that will help you heal.

Who am I?

I’m a clairaudient medium and I’ve been a professional tarot card reader for 23 years. Delving into past lives is not only something I’m fascinated with but something I do for my spiritual business, as well. The most important part for my clients is not only knowing about their past lives but understanding how the struggles and lessons learned in those lives are applicable to their present life on this planet. History repeats itself is not just a cliche; I’ve always known how important it is to process and release these karmic teachings.

Claudia's book list on past lives that will help you heal

Claudia Amendola Alzraa Why did Claudia love this book?

This book was central to the healing which prepared me for my own motherhood journey. Spirit Babies is so profound because it explores an often overlooked topic—the preconception relationship between parents and their unborn children. 

Reading it, I feel a deep connection with the souls of my potential children, even before their physical existence. Makichen's insights and techniques offered a profound sense of comfort, which guided me in establishing a spiritual bond with my future child. It alleviated any fears or doubts I may have had, replacing them with a sense of trust and harmony in the journey of parenthood.

It affirms the sacred nature of the parent-child bond, instilling hope, and inviting a deeper understanding of each soul's journey.

By Walter Makichen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Am I Meant to Become a Parent? Why Can’t I Conceive?
What Is My Unborn Child Trying to Tell Me?

In this reassuring, supportive, and accessible book, leading clairvoyant and medium Walter Makichen offers guidance to prospective parents eager to create a warm, nurturing environment for their soon-to-be-conceived-or-born children. Applying the wisdom and insights he has gained through twenty years of communicating with these spirit babies, Makichen helps you resolve issues about starting a family…actively participate in the psychic process of creating a child…and move past your worries and fears about becoming parents. From the seven essential chakras that link…


Book cover of Sea Wife

Susan Cole Author Of Holding Fast: A Memoir of Sailing, Love, and Loss

From my list on huge life changes and the stories behind them.

Who am I?

I have lived on or around sailboats for over thirty years. I had never sailed before meeting my husband. Many people dream of sailing off but few actually go. In 1996, we sailed away to the Caribbean with our seven-year-old daughter. Although I didn’t want to go, by the end of the voyage I found an inner strength that has stayed with me. The books I chose are all about making huge changes, taking leaps of faith. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have!

Susan's book list on huge life changes and the stories behind them

Susan Cole Why did Susan love this book?

Gaige’s writing is terrific, insightful, fresh, and fast-paced. As I read about the fictional couple and their conflicts at sea, I was struck by the similarities to our real-life sailing experience. In a fabulous first scene, the wife hides in a closet, unable to deal with reality. She reluctantly goes on a voyage with her husband and their lives change, much as ours did. I never hid in a closet, but before the voyage, I was someone who if I didn’t like reality, ignored it. At sea, that’s not possible. 

By Amity Gaige,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Taut as a thriller' Claire Messud

'A gripping tale of survival at sea - but that's just the beginning' Jennifer Egan

'A smart, swift and thrilling novel' Lauren Groff

From the highly acclaimed author of Schroder, a smart, sophisticated literary page turner about a young family who escape suburbia for a year-long sailing trip that upends all of their lives

Juliet is failing to juggle motherhood and her anemic dissertation when her husband, Michael, informs her that he wants to leave his job and buy a sailboat. The couple are novice sailors, but Michael persuades Juliet to say yes. With…


Book cover of A Beautiful Truth

Robert Repino Author Of Morte

From my list on animals becoming sentient.

Who am I?

In addition to writing novels, I’m a humanities editor for Oxford University Press. So, I’m interested in the political and theological implications of non-human intelligence. I wonder how people would react to such a revelation. Some would be fascinated by this radical new perspective. Others would be horrified at what they perceive as a transgression against nature. I’m also drawn to this topic because I still vividly recall the entertainment of my youth, which regularly featured anthropomorphic animals. Sometimes they’re just cool or funny. But on occasion—like with The Secret of NIMH—they raise profound questions of identity and rebellion, even for an audience that is too young to understand.

Robert's book list on animals becoming sentient

Robert Repino Why did Robert love this book?

A childless couple adopts a chimpanzee named Looee, and you already know from reading that sentence that it will lead to trouble and heartbreak. After a few pages, I didn’t care. In McAdam’s skilled hands, the inevitable sadness doesn’t matter, because the delicately handled point of view perfectly captures a doomed creature trapped between two opposing identities. In contrast, we also meet Podo, an alpha chimp at a research facility seeking to test the intelligence of primates. Podo is fully ape, but he is turning into something more. Their paths soon join, taking them deeper into a gray area between human and animal that I had never seen rendered on the page so vividly before. 

By Colin McAdam,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Walt and Judy's happiness has been blighted by their childlessness; although their marriage seems blissful, Judy feels increasingly empty and Walt longs to make her happy again. So one day he brings home Looee - a baby chimpanzee. Looee, exuberant and demanding, immediately fills the gap in Walt and Judy's life, and they come to love him as their own son. Like any child, Looee is affectionate and quick to learn, generous and engaging. But he is also a deeply unpredictable animal, and one night their unique family life is changed forever.
At the Girdish Institute, chimpanzees have been studied…


Book cover of The Vile Thing We Created

Randee Dawn Author Of Tune in Tomorrow: The Curious, Calamitous, Cockamamie Story of Starr Weatherby and the Greatest Mythic Reality Show Ever

From Randee's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Storyteller Journalist Traveler Joke lover Witness

Randee's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Randee Dawn Why did Randee love this book?

I have a few soft spots when it comes to horror book subjects – and homes and wacky kids are among them. Robert Ottone's novel gives me both, in a sense.

A domestic drama that takes a little while to get going, it's about the terror of not being parents and losing your friends – and then the terror of becoming parents and losing your sanity. Ottone isn't afraid to go there with his creepiness and the slow fracturing of what seems like an unbreakable relationship, and he doesn't mind making the titular child in the book a true terror.

I like a book that sneaks up on you, and this one still lingers months after I finished it.

By Robert P. Ottone,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Vile Thing We Created as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Lola and Ian had what they thought was the perfect relationship. Vacations. Fine dining. A healthy sex life.

But when their childless lifestyle begins impacting their social lives, they decide to take the natural next step.

But what happens when that next step cracks the perfect foundation Lola and Ian have built?

What happens when that next step is anything but natural?

Robert P. Ottone's The Vile Thing We Created is a terrifying vision of parenthood in the tradition of Ira Levin and Thomas Tryon.


Book cover of The Unmumsy Mum: The Hilarious Highs and Emotional Lows of Motherhood

Lottie Phillips Author Of Sunshine at Daisy's Guesthouse

From my list on to make you laugh and cry at the same time.

Who am I?

I love romantic comedies with an emphasis on comedy. I’m not in love with sugary-sweet romance because I don’t think it’s true to life. I know that I laugh daily because my life is very 'Bridget Jones'. You know a book genre is strong when you can describe yourself as a character written in the late nineties. My own books are full of awkward moments, endearing observations, and humour that pushes the boundaries. Why? Because what are we if we are not fallible and vulnerable to whatever life throws at us?

Lottie's book list on to make you laugh and cry at the same time

Lottie Phillips Why did Lottie love this book?

This book is perfect for new mums, mums au fait with being a mum or even those wondering about parenting!

I laughed ridiculously hard at the frank and compelling insight into what it means to be a modern-day mother. I remember reading it when my son was a toddler and feeling comforted by Turner’s stories and anecdotes.

It’s both a comedy but offers great tips at the same time in those moments when you are crying trying to get your child to eat peas.

By Sarah Turner,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Creator of the popular blog "The Unmumsy Mum," Sarah Turner offers an uncensored account of her early years of parenting.

Sarah Turner's first few months of parenting were tough. On the darkest of sleep-deprived days, when the baby would not settle and she was irritable and the house was a disaster-zone, she wanted to read about someone who felt the same. Someone who would reassure her that she wasn't a total failure. But she found nothing of the sort. She decided then and there that she would write something herself. She would document parenthood as she found it. Not how…


Book cover of Baby Bomb: A Relationship Survival Guide for New Parents

Stephanie Dueger Author Of Preparing for Parenthood: 55 Essential Conversations for Couples Becoming Families

From my list on to feel more prepared for parenthood.

Who am I?

As a trained therapist, educator, and coach for expectant and new parents, I understand on a deep level the importance of creating a strong foundation in building a family. I also was personally humbled at how difficult the transition to parenthood was for me and the challenges it presented in my relationship with my husband. While we’ve grown exponentially, I wanted to make it a little easier for other expectant parents to avoid some of the pitfalls that aren’t spoken about as much in becoming parents. I also wanted to help the new little beings arriving in the world to have more resourced, present parents. It’s a win-win.

Stephanie's book list on to feel more prepared for parenthood

Stephanie Dueger Why did Stephanie love this book?

Attachment theory – the theory that humans need to form a close emotional bond with a caregiver early in life to survive and thrive – is near and dear to my heart as a therapist and coach for expectant and new parents. Tatkin is a master of human attachment in adult relationships, having created the PACT (psychobiological approach to couple therapy) training for therapists. The book, written with Hoppe, uses the science behind attachment theory to help couples strengthen their relationship and meet each other’s needs as a couple in order to be the best parents they can be. It offers tried and true ways to nurture your couple bond so you can not only be present for your baby, but also for each other.

By Kara Hoppe, Stan Tatkin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Before you succeed at parenting, you need to succeed as a couple! Baby Bomb is the resource you need when a new baby turns your life-and your romantic relationship-upside down. A baby is a blessing-and also a completely life-altering event. If you're like many new parents, nothing could have fully prepared you for the exhaustion of late-night feedings, the explosive diapers, the evaporation of your free time, the pure joy, and the moments of pure terror. In the midst of these hazy, early months, it's normal to feel overwhelmed. And when you're overwhelmed, it's easy to put your romantic relationship…


Book cover of A River of Stars

Renee Macalino Author Of The ABCs Of Asian American History: A Celebration from A to Z of All Asian Americans, from Bangladeshi Americans to Vietnamese Americans

From my list on the Asian American immigrant experience.

Who am I?

Born in the Philippines and raised in the US from the age of 4, Renee didn't see the stories of her culture reflected in books until she was a freshman in college at UC Berkeley. Renee wrote her first novel, The Hour of Daydreams, which was inspired by the ghost stories her family told. It received the inaugural Institute for Immigration Research New American Voices Finalist award. Her children’s book One Hundred Percent Me is the book she wishes she could’ve read to her own daughters. With her latest book, The ABCs of Asian American History, Renee hopes young readers will celebrate the vast contributions of Asian Americans to US culture, politics, arts, and society.

Renee's book list on the Asian American immigrant experience

Renee Macalino Why did Renee love this book?

This book reveals a fascinating picture of mothers from China traveling to the US to give birth on American soil.

Factory worker Scarlett is one such mother, and her journey to safety, friendship, motherhood, and love, told with Hua’s impeccable gift for storytelling, is an adventure you will cheer for. 

By Vanessa Hua,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • In a powerful debut about modern-day motherhood, immigration, and identity, a pregnant Chinese woman stakes a claim to the American dream in California.

“Utterly absorbing.”—Celeste Ng • “A marvel of a first novel.”—O: The Oprah Magazine • “The most eye-opening literary adventure of the year.”—Entertainment Weekly

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The Washington Post • NPR • Real Simple

Holed up with other mothers-to-be in a secret maternity home in Los Angeles, Scarlett Chen is far from her native China, where she worked in a factory and fell in love with the…