The best parenting books

62 authors have picked their favorite books about parenting and why they recommend each book.

Soon, you will be able to filter this list by genre, age group, and more. Sign up here to follow our story as we build a better way to discover books.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission (learn more).

Book cover of Achtung Baby: An American Mom on the German Art of Raising Self-Reliant Children

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

By Sara Zaske,

Why this book?

Preschoolers who wield knives and start fires? Kids riding by themselves on the subway? Welcome to Germany, where “free range parenting” is the norm and free play takes priority over academic learning in the early years. Zaske’s journey as an American mom in Berlin is a fascinating and thought-provoking read that turns many of our preconceived notions about German culture and parenting on their head. Parents looking to raise confident, self-reliant children will likely take Zaske’s book to heart. 

From the list:

The best books on parenting secrets from other cultures

Book cover of Free-Range Kids, How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry)

Free-Range Kids, How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry)

By Lenore Skenazy,

Why this book?

No other book – and arguably no other personality – has done more to help loosen the lock-hold helicopter parenting has on our kids than Free-Range Kids and Lenore Skenazy. The book is a primer on ways to give your kids the freedom to grow up while it tears apart many of the paranoid parenting myths: from child predators lurking on every corner to the overblown dangers of choking on uncut grapes. Even better, Skenazy is hilarious and her book is great fun to read.

From the list:

The best books for raising self-reliant children

Book cover of How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success

How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success

By Julie Lythcott-Haims,

Why this book?

Julie was a former Dean of Students at Stanford University. She shares how she realized that she was working with kids who had “checked every box” and earned acceptance to one of the most selective universities in the world. However, she could not help but notice that despite their stellar list of achievements and impressive resumes, they sorely lacked the skills necessary to transition to the adult world of navigating normal roommate conflicts or even making minor decisions without the help of their parents.

This book is a great reminder that as parents, our ultimate goal is to prepare our…

From the list:

The best parenting books to grow great kids and maintain a great marriage

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

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

By Alison Gopnik,

Why this book?

Alison Gopnik, author, mother, and child psychologist believes in creating an environment where children are left to play and figure things out for themselves to mentally develop, opposed to starting school from an early age, enrolling them in many activities, and giving them homework. Gopnik goes along with the Finnish style of parenting. She claims through metaphor that modern parents are akin to carpenters, trying to shape their children. Whereas if we act more like gardeners, we can nurture and allow out children to flourish. It’s an interesting perspective, and a good reminder not to overload our children and let…

From the list:

The best books on parenting from a dog behaviourist

Book cover of The Self-Driven Child: The Science and Sense of Giving Your Kids More Control Over Their Lives

The Self-Driven Child: The Science and Sense of Giving Your Kids More Control Over Their Lives

By William Stixrud, Ned Johnson,

Why this book?

This thought-provoking book by Bill Stixrud (a clinical neuropsychologist) and Ned Johnson (an SAT tutor) pops up on other “best books” lists on parenting. It deserves to be there. But it’s not, as the title might suggest, a prescription for “hands-off” parenting. On the contrary, it shows us how to actively help our kids become better decision-makers by giving them lots of guided practice in making decisions they’re capable of handling, such as: “Should I take on the challenge of moving to the next grade in school, or spend another year learning the important skills I didn’t learn very well…
From the list:

The best books for raising good children

Book cover of The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read: (and Your Children Will Be Glad That You Did)

The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read: (and Your Children Will Be Glad That You Did)

By Philippa Perry,

Why this book?

This book explores the bigger picture of a child’s well-being by examining the two ingredients of emotional intelligence: intrapersonal awareness (understanding yourself) and interpersonal awareness (understanding others). Parry doesn’t give the reader a set of strict techniques and rules to follow. Instead, it is more of a philosophy to develop a child’s emotional resilience by making them feel safe and valued. My main takeaways from the book were to be more present with my child, to question my own behaviour and reactions to her behaviours, to create a loving environment where my child’s feelings (no matter how trivial they may…

From the list:

The best books on parenting from a dog behaviourist

Book cover of The Work / Parent Switch: How to Parent Smarter Not Harder

The Work / Parent Switch: How to Parent Smarter Not Harder

By Anita Cleare,

Why this book?

‘I can’t just flick a switch’. It’s something that I hear in my therapy office all the time but what if you could transition better from work to parenting – because they each require a different part of you. Anita Cleare was a great guest on my podcast: The Meaningful Life with Andrew G Marshall. She is good at explaining the different stages and challenges of child development and how stressed our parents often end up fighting with each other. Parenting as a team, rather than bickering with each other, is often one of the breakthrough moments for improving my…

From the list:

The best books about raising emotionally rounded children without exhausting your marriage

Book cover of Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting: Five Strategies That End the Daily Battles and Get Kids to Listen the First Time

Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting: Five Strategies That End the Daily Battles and Get Kids to Listen the First Time

By Noel Janis-Norton,

Why this book?

How do you get your children out of the door without stressing out them, yourself, and everybody else in the house. This book is full of strategies like not having to ask twice, preparing for success, starting new rules, and the joys of descriptive praise. I find that if parents argue better and communicate more effectively with each other that has a knock-on effect on the children but it works equally well the other way round. If you can communicate more calmly with your children, you can use the skills with your partner too.

From the list:

The best books about raising emotionally rounded children without exhausting your marriage

Book cover of We Live for the We: The Political Power of Black Motherhood

We Live for the We: The Political Power of Black Motherhood

By Dani McClain,

Why this book?

This book is a beautiful combination of personal narrative and social commentary. McClain takes you through many of the complicated emotions of raising Black children in the United States while also leaving her reader with a sense of sisterhood and support. It’s a must when it comes to understanding the current landscape Black mothers are facing.

From the list:

The best books on Black motherhood

Or, view all 109 books about parenting

New book lists related to parenting

All book lists related to parenting

Bookshelves related to parenting