116 books directly related to parenting 📚

All 116 parenting books as recommended by authors and experts. Updated weekly.

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

By Sara Zaske,

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

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. 


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

By Lenore Skenazy,

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

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.


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

By Julie Lythcott-Haims,

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

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 kids to transition into adulthood with the necessary tools and skills to “adult” successfully. I had the opportunity to meet Julie personally, and her compassion, wisdom, and experience are genuine – this is required reading for parents. 


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

By Alison Gopnik,

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

Why 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. 


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

By William Stixrud, Ned Johnson,

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

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 this year?” (but definitely not decisions where, for example, danger is involved—like going to an unsupervised party).

In short, raising a “self-driven” child means doing more of a different kind of parenting—in a collaborative, mutually respectful relationship that’s more rewarding for both parent and child. It means looking for opportunities to be a consultant who asks questions like, “What’s your Plan B if Plan A doesn’t work out?” In this way we become better at helping our children develop what the ancient Greeks considered the most important virtue: good judgment. That’s a gift that lasts a lifetime.


Raising Resilience: The Wisdom and Science of Happy Families and Thriving Children

By Christopher Willard,

Book cover of Raising Resilience: The Wisdom and Science of Happy Families and Thriving Children

Why this book?

In a charming, reader-friendly style, this book offers ten universal principles for skillful parenting that lead to genuine goodness and happiness in their children. A delight to know it’s possible.


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

By Philippa Perry,

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

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 seem) would be validated, to create boundaries, and truly listen before replying. The lessons I learnt from the book will stay with me forever. 


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

By Anita Cleare,

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

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 clients' love lives.


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

By Noel Janis-Norton,

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

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.


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

By Dani McClain,

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

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.


Hurrah for Gin: A Book for Perfectly Imperfect Parents

By Katie Kirby,

Book cover of Hurrah for Gin: A Book for Perfectly Imperfect Parents

Why this book?

So funny! Diary of a Wimpy Kid for adults. Just love these fun little cartoons, easy reading, you don’t need your brain at all, just relax and enjoy.


Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting (Now with Bébé Day by Day: 100 Keys to French Parenting)

By Pamela Druckerman,

Book cover of Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting (Now with Bébé Day by Day: 100 Keys to French Parenting)

Why this book?

This enjoyable, first-person romp about raising kids in France is a must-read for any francophile. Druckerman is an American who married a Brit, and they relocated to Paris, where they had three children. With a reporter’s eye, Druckerman tackles such questions as, how on earth do French parents have their kids sleeping through the night at a few weeks old, and how is it that French children sit down to civilized three-course meals when they aren’t yet three feet tall? 


Baby Bargains: Your Baby Registry Cheat Sheet

By Denise Fields, Alan Fields,

Book cover of Baby Bargains: Your Baby Registry Cheat Sheet

Why this book?

You are about to enter another dimension: a dimension not only of love and responsibility but of consumer goods. You have a lot of shopping decisions ahead of you, many in categories that will be completely unfamiliar to you. Before getting lost in the aisles of a superstore or allowing the hundreds of stroller models on Amazon to plunge you into despair, start with this book. It will walk you through the major types of baby gear and help you understand what factors do and don’t matter.


Go the F*ck to Sleep

By Adam Mansbach, Ricardo Cortés (illustrator),

Book cover of Go the F*ck to Sleep

Why this book?

I was (thankfully) long past the “putting kids to bed” stage of life when I first read this book, but you don’t have to be in the depths of sleep-deprived hell to enjoy it! This book is 100% irreverent which makes it 100% perfect! It will provide just the right amount of levity to any frustrated parent/sitter who can’t understand why that beautiful, crying child in front of them won’t go to sleep already! Disclaimer: If you don’t appreciate a good F-bomb, don’t read this book. The title says it all.


Toddlers Are A**holes: It's Not Your Fault

By Bunmi Laditan,

Book cover of Toddlers Are A**holes: It's Not Your Fault

Why this book?

Terrible two got its name for a reason. Toddlers are really difficult and this book speaks truth to power letting you know you are not alone facing the little psychotic menace. I wouldn’t use any of the advice in the book – but it is hilarious.


Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care

By Benjamin Spock, Robert Needlman,

Book cover of Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care

Why this book?

This classic is actually a very good guide to maintaining you sanity and for helping you through those first few month. My parents read this when they had me, and so did probably yours. Get one of the older editions though, none of this wishy-washy modern parenting for us. 


Buddhism for Mothers: A Calm Approach to Caring for Yourself and Your Children

By Sarah Napthali,

Book cover of Buddhism for Mothers: A Calm Approach to Caring for Yourself and Your Children

Why this book?

I’ve always been deeply inspired by the teachings of the Buddha, so naturally, I made sure I read this book. In fact, I first read it years before becoming a mother myself. It is a classic and a treasure, elucidating how to apply concepts like mindfulness and acceptance as a mother, long before any other book had done so. It is certainly relevant to any mother interested in Buddhism, but it is written in such an open way that it is also relevant to other mothers too.


Maker Dad: Lunch Box Guitars, Antigravity Jars, and 22 Other Incredibly Cool Father-Daughter DIY Projects

By Mark Frauenfelder,

Book cover of Maker Dad: Lunch Box Guitars, Antigravity Jars, and 22 Other Incredibly Cool Father-Daughter DIY Projects

Why this book?

I like this father-daughter book, especially because it includes topics not always emphasized for girls: computer programming, hand tools, and problem-solving technology. But it’s also creative and uses affordable supplies. Maker Fairs are sweeping the planet and kids are discovering that geekiness is actually cool.


The Nurture Assumption: Why Children Turn Out the Way They Do

By Judith Rich Harris,

Book cover of The Nurture Assumption: Why Children Turn Out the Way They Do

Why this book?

In recent years, my work is increasingly concerned with the interface between child development and evolutionary biology. The Nurture Assumption is a challenging book that’s attracted praise and vilification in equal measure. Judith Rich Harris argues that ‘parenting’ is less influential in children’s emotional and social development than is currently assumed and I think that’s well worth thinking about. The love and care of adults are obviously of immense importance, but children bring their own strengths into the world, not least their inborn drive to learn through play.


How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk

By Adele Faber, Elaine Mazlish,

Book cover of How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk

Why this book?

I love this book because it’s so darn sensible. It’s also written in an easy-to-relate style, and even if you “don’t have time to read a parenting book,” you can get quite a few of the main concepts by simply reading the comics. This book helps you see what bad habits you’ve fallen into, and how it’s quite possible to turn around your relationship with your child. Also look for their companion books which are equally good: Siblings Without Rivalry and How to Talk so Kids Can Learn At Home and in School.


What to Expect the First Year

By Heidi Murkoff,

Book cover of What to Expect the First Year

Why this book?

The month-by-month format allows parents to take one step at a time. Topics covered include sleep training, green parenting, preparing homemade baby food, and the impact of screen time. It’s nice because as busy, sleep-deprived parents, you can read a little at a time to get what you need.


The Ultimate Baby Book for New Dads: 100 Ways to Care for Your Baby in Their First Year

By Roy Benaroch,

Book cover of The Ultimate Baby Book for New Dads: 100 Ways to Care for Your Baby in Their First Year

Why this book?

Dads need a book, too. This survival guide lists 100 things dads can do for their baby and partner to help them not only survive but thrive in their first year. The things I like about it are that it’s in color, with eye-catching pictures, the format is easy to understand— basically in bullet-point style, and it’s so funny! Dr. Roy adds a bit of daddy humor in it.  Like if you’re doing tummy time with your baby, you can expect to be burped on! 


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

By Daniel J. Siegel, Tina Payne Bryson,

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

Why this book?

This book changed my entire mindset when it came to bringing up my own child. Having been someone who was brought up in a very traditional (aka militarily strict!) manner, I didn’t really know any other way to be in my own life as a dad, but I always felt deep down that having a ‘just do as I say’ approach to parenting is so one dimensional and not reflective of true bonding. 

This book is fantastic at giving the insights into how a child thinks, the signals to watch out for, and also making you see things from a child’s point of view into having a much calmer and more open approach to parenting. I couldn’t recommend it more. 


Baby 411: Your Baby, Birth to Age 1

By Dr. Ari Brown, Denise Fields,

Book cover of Baby 411: Your Baby, Birth to Age 1

Why this book?

Have you ever left the pediatrician’s office and then realized later that you forgot to ask the one question that was on your mind for days or even weeks? This book has you covered. Topics include everything from fussy baby issues to detailed nutrition information. The other thing I like is that you can look up a symptom like coughing, and it will give you a scale such as “when to call your doctor” and “red flag.” This is useful in helping you decide what to do next.


The Importance of Being Little: What Young Children Really Need from Grownups

By Erika Christakis,

Book cover of The Importance of Being Little: What Young Children Really Need from Grownups

Why this book?

Erika Christakis offers a scientifically-grounded view of early childhood in a very approachable format for parents, teachers, childcare workers, and anyone who cares about young children. Christakis suggests we can make a few easy changes to nurture early learning and development and empower children through our relationships with the child.

The importance of playing and social interaction are critical aspects of child development and social emotional learning, but often children are expected to conform to adult-centered goals such as unrealistic expectations, adult schedules, and activities based on adult preferences for the child that might not align with their strengths and interests.

I think back and remember how creative and curious I was as a child, and as a parent I am reminded of the power of a child's mind to imagine and create. Children often also have wisdom beyond their years. As adults we need to not only see our children but truly listen to them. We can learn from them and they can also help us reconnect with our own playfulness and creativity.


The Everyday Parenting Toolkit: The Kazdin Method for Easy, Step-By-Step, Lasting Change for You and Your Child

By Alan E. Kazdin, Carlo Rotella,

Book cover of The Everyday Parenting Toolkit: The Kazdin Method for Easy, Step-By-Step, Lasting Change for You and Your Child

Why this book?

My coauthor Gloria Russo-Wassell introduced me to the wonderful world of Dr. Kazdin. I was skeptical at first about his all positive rewards, no negative punishment techniques, but the more I read, the more I realize he is right on the mark. When you associate positive rewards, praise, and feelings with specific children’s behaviors they will remember those events much more than the memories of being punished. We need to move past punishment as a cornerstone of parenting and discipline, and consider Dr. Kazdin’s ABC method.


Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child

By John Gottman, Joan Declaire,

Book cover of Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child

Why this book?

Dr. John Gottman is an internationally acclaimed research psychologist whose Emotion Coaching technique has transformed the lives of countless parents and children across the world. This book helps parents understand the big feelings which are often at the root of children’s tantrums and upsets and offers a tried and true, research-based, practical way to respond. Dr. Gottman’s techniques not only help parents respond more confidently and effectively to their children - reducing the length and frequency of tantrums and upsets – but also increase their children’s self-confidence, mental health, and relationship skills. What could be better?!


The Mindful Child: How to Help Your Kid Manage Stress and Become Happier, Kinder, and More Compassionate

By Susan Kaiser Greenland,

Book cover of The Mindful Child: How to Help Your Kid Manage Stress and Become Happier, Kinder, and More Compassionate

Why this book?

Mindfulness has become a more popular concept in the realm of relaxation training, wellness, spirituality, and health, but many books are focused on adults. Children can also practice mindfulness which is having a reflective stance in daily life including appreciating experiences in the moment, being mindful of how you speak to people and of your relationships, incorporating a meditative element to daily life, and reflecting deeply on experiences and learning from those experiences. The author was involved in developing a mindfulness curriculum for school children which has been deemed quite effective in increasing focus and calm and decreasing discord and behavioral problems among children in the toughest classrooms. Check out this book, then try a book on mindful parenting!


Raising Your Spirited Baby: A Breakthrough Guide to Thriving When Your Baby Is More . . . Alert and Intense and Struggles to Sleep

By Mary Sheedy Kurcinka,

Book cover of Raising Your Spirited Baby: A Breakthrough Guide to Thriving When Your Baby Is More . . . Alert and Intense and Struggles to Sleep

Why this book?

As a mother of three grown children, former teacher, and author, and speaker on parenting for many years, I much prefer the term “Spirited Child” to “Strong-Willed Child.” Do you have a child who’s more intense and persistent? Challenging and uncomfortable with change? Then thank your lucky stars. As they grow into their personality, these spirited kids can become the most empathetic and focused young people and successful adults. Learn how to work and parent with an understanding of your child’s temperament instead of trying to “break” your child’s will. Often when parents set out with punitive methods to break their child’s will, they end up breaking his or her spirit. This book has plenty of real-life stories, practical ideas, and the most current research.


The Enchanted Hour: The Miraculous Power of Reading Aloud in the Age of Distraction

By Meghan Cox Gurdon,

Book cover of The Enchanted Hour: The Miraculous Power of Reading Aloud in the Age of Distraction

Why this book?

This book, a nonfiction book for adults, is a kind of ode to the read-aloud. But it’s not the typical parenting book. Filled with case studies, book recommendations, and poetic language, Gurdon shows how those read-alouds are far more impactful than you might think, in bringing you closer as a family. It’s so easy to think “reading time” for school-aged kids needs to mean them reading alone or to you, but in fact, kids of all ages, and even adults, benefit from being read aloud to. With my ten-year-old daughter, we’ve had fun taking turns reading to each other or to her brother. She’s often proud of how her reading skills help put him to sleep!


Raising Resilient Children : Fostering Strength, Hope, and Optimism in Your Child

By Robert Brooks, Sam Goldstein,

Book cover of Raising Resilient Children : Fostering Strength, Hope, and Optimism in Your Child

Why this book?

This is one of the best books on raising resilient, emotionally healthy children. Generation Alpha is being bombarded by traumatic events which they learn about on YouTube, television, and from grownups around them talking about these events and the news. But there is a way to raise emotionally, healthy children even today and the key is teaching them resilience. There are so many great insights in this book but it’s practical and easy to digest. Our children have lost some of their resilience during the pandemic. It’s up to us, as adults in their lives – parents, teachers, counselors, and coaches – to re-instill a sense of security in our child’s lives but also the idea that once you’ve been through tough times other setbacks in life can seem easier to get through.


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

By Melinda Wenner Moyer,

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

Why 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.


Parenting from the Inside Out: How a Deeper Self-Understanding Can Help You Raise Children Who Thrive

By Daniel J. Siegel, Mary Hartzell,

Book cover of Parenting from the Inside Out: How a Deeper Self-Understanding Can Help You Raise Children Who Thrive

Why this book?

Siegel is a child psychiatrist who deeply understands the importance of attachment theory and neurobiology. This book, written with child development specialist and parent educator Hartzell, invites parents to deeply examine their own childhood experiences and how they have shaped us. It provides clear exercises for making sense of our past in an effort to provide the best, emotionally, for our children. As a therapist, I believe there is no greater gift to ourselves and our children than working towards our own healing, which helps prevent the transmission of “generational trauma” to our children. This book also focuses on the importance of “repair” after there have been ruptures in the relationship with our children. This in itself is invaluable.


The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness: Five Steps to Help Kids Create and Sustain Lifelong Joy

By Edward M. Hallowell,

Book cover of The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness: Five Steps to Help Kids Create and Sustain Lifelong Joy

Why this book?

This was my favorite book for years and years. Truth be told, anything Ned Hallowell writes sings to me. He is brilliant and so readable. This book is not only tremendously reassuring, but it makes being the parent you want to be entirely attainable. Hallowell deconstructs the path towards a child making himself happy. What more could you want?


The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed

By Jessica Lahey,

Book cover of The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed

Why this book?

Is your child experiencing setbacks? Difficulties? Mistakes? Failures? Do not fret! Author Jessica Lahey understands your concerns, and she shares why these kinds of challenges can be advantageous and serve as stepping-stones for children’s growing autonomy. In The Gift of Failure, she discusses the importance of encouragement, resilience, collaboration, and more as she explores different circumstances that children encounter. And, she provides many suggestions to help them reframe obstacles as opportunities. I think this book is, and will continue to be, an extremely relevant read for parents.


Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boys, and the New Realities of Girl World

By Rosalind Wiseman,

Book cover of Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boys, and the New Realities of Girl World

Why this book?

By the time our children reach middle school their choice of friends (for better or worse) becomes increasingly beyond our reach. Queen Bees and Wannabes (a non-fiction book that inspired the feature film Mean Girls), was the first to blast wide open the dark, dirty secret of girls’ relational aggression.

This book offers a deep dive into what many of our daughters have experienced or are currently in the thick of. Rosalind Wiseman, a parenting educator and NY Times best-selling author, helps parents better understand the queen bees in their kids’ lives – why these girls manipulate their peers and how we can help our daughters manage their emotions and social expectations in healthy ways so they neither fall victim to a queen bee nor put on the crown themselves and victimize others.


How to Really Love Your Child

By Ross Campbell,

Book cover of How to Really Love Your Child

Why this book?

Ross Campbell explains the emotional needs of a child and provides you with skills that will help your child feel truly loved, accepted, and emotionally secure. He explains love for a person "no matter what". With regards to children, loving them regardless of who they are, or how they live up to expectations or don’t. This was one of the most important books I read as a young mother.


Parent Effectiveness Training: The Proven Program for Raising Responsible Children

By Thomas Gordon,

Book cover of Parent Effectiveness Training: The Proven Program for Raising Responsible Children

Why this book?

This is the book that started the whole “learn about parenting” movement. Yes, it has been published for 60 years, but children’s needs have not changed in the past million years, and the premise of non-punitive parenting and relationship skills taught in the book, are still present today in other books under different names. The skills are still essential to learn for building solid parent-child relationships. In this book, parents learn assertiveness skills, active listening skills, and problem-solving skills as well as ideas to resolve value differences with older children. It is totally non-punitive and essential for every parent who wants to meet their children’s social and emotional needs as well as build excellent relationships with their children, without being permissive.


Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles: Winning for a Lifetime

By Mary Sheedy Kurcinka,

Book cover of Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles: Winning for a Lifetime

Why this book?

If you have a “spicey”, high need, strong-willed child, this is the best book for understanding how temperament affects a child’s behaviour. It contains a lot of helpful strategies for parenting or teaching a child with the spirited end of the temperament continuum.


Learning All the Time

By John Holt,

Book cover of Learning All the Time

Why this book?

Here is another game-changing book that is a few decades old, but has spanned a worldwide movement in the knowledge, research, and growth of self-directed education. This book addresses how children learn everything they need to know through self-directed play, projects, and exploration for grades 1 to 12. It also shows the damaging effects of institutional school, bullying, and how direct teaching can stop a child’s curiosity and creativity needed for 20th-century careers. Children do not need school to learn. Learning is everywhere, anytime, and is available to everyone.


Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings: How to Stop the Fighting and Raise Friends for Life

By Dr. Laura Markham,

Book cover of Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings: How to Stop the Fighting and Raise Friends for Life

Why this book?

This one is for parents, not kids, but I included it because what parents do (or don’t do), say (or don’t say) is such an important part of the equation when it comes to sibling rivalry. Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings teaches the basics of Emotion Coaching (introduced in Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids by the same author), then walks readers through using this approach with multiple children. Grounded in brain science, pairing firm limits with genuine empathy, parents who take the time to learn/practice this way of parenting will undoubtedly see a significant reduction in sibling squabbles, and in conflict more broadly.


Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting

By Dr. Laura Markham,

Book cover of Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting

Why this book?

Based on the latest research on brain development and extensive clinical experience with parents, Dr. Laura Markham’s approach is as simple as it is effective. Her message: Fostering an emotional connection with your child creates real and lasting change. When you have that vital connection, you don’t need to threaten, nag, plead, bribe—or even punish. This remarkable guide will help parents better understand their own emotions—and get them in check—so they can parent with healthy limits, empathy, and clear communication to raise a self-disciplined child. If you’re tired of power struggles, tantrums, and searching for the right “consequence,” look no further. You’re about to discover the practical tools you need to transform your parenting in a positive, proven way.


The 5 Love Languages of Children: The Secret to Loving Children Effectively

By Gary Chapman, Ross Campbell,

Book cover of The 5 Love Languages of Children: The Secret to Loving Children Effectively

Why this book?

You know you love your child. But how can you make sure your child knows it? The #1 New York Times bestselling The 5 Love Languages has helped millions of couples learn the secret to building a love that lasts. Now discover how to speak your child’s love language in a way that he or she understands. Dr. Gary Chapman and Dr. Ross Campbell help you:

Discover your child’s love language
Assist your child in successful learning
Use the love languages to correct and discipline more effectively
Build a foundation of unconditional love for your child
Plus: Find dozens of tips for practical ways to speak your child’s love language.

Discover your child's primary language—then speak it—and you will be well on your way to a stronger relationship with your flourishing child.


A River

By Marc Martin,

Book cover of A River

Why this book?

Once again a wordless picture book. But the style of graphic and college art just blew my away. You'll get lost in this one. Everything seems possible and you'll want to go to the places he depicts. Without using words you'll want to discover how the story ends.

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

By Margot Sunderland,

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

Why 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!


The Conscious Parent: Transforming Ourselves, Empowering Our Children

By Shefali Tsabary,

Book cover of The Conscious Parent: Transforming Ourselves, Empowering Our Children

Why this book?

Tsabary pulls no punches as she issues a clarion call for showing up in the parent-child relationship with awareness of your wishes and tendencies to control. Rather than falling into the same traps your own parents did by imposing your own ideas of who you think your child should or shouldn’t be, you can serve as your child’s guide – while pointing her to her own inner compass.


Parenting Without Power Struggles: Raising Joyful, Resilient Kids While Staying Cool, Calm, and Connected

By Susan Stiffelman,

Book cover of Parenting Without Power Struggles: Raising Joyful, Resilient Kids While Staying Cool, Calm, and Connected

Why this book?

A very practical guide on how to unlock yourself from the inevitable battle of wills that crop up in the parent-child relationship, and instead become the “captain of the ship” who is able to co-regulate your child through the ups and downs of difficult moods and behavior. Stiffelman explains in clear language how co-regulating in this way, over time, helps your child build skills of self-regulation and problem solving - bringing a natural feeling of peace of harmony both in your child and in your relationship.


Diapers to Dorms: Raising Kids You Actually Like, Who Others Like, and Who Like Themselves

By Randy Pardue,

Book cover of Diapers to Dorms: Raising Kids You Actually Like, Who Others Like, and Who Like Themselves

Why this book?

This unique book is from a father's perspective, which you don't see very much these days. The lessons in this book are told through humorous stories, which we can all relate to. It tackles topics like building your confidence as a parent, recognizing the fact your children are different and identifying what’s important during each stage of a child’s life. The book is more of a “how-to” manual. It is rooted in Christianity.


The Danish Way of Parenting: What the Happiest People in the World Know about Raising Confident, Capable Kids

By Jessica Joelle Alexander, Iben Dissing Sandahl,

Book cover of The Danish Way of Parenting: What the Happiest People in the World Know about Raising Confident, Capable Kids

Why this book?

Danish parenting advice is the best thing to come out of Denmark since hygge and in this book, authors Jessica Joelle Alexander and Iben Sandahl explain why. Stressing emotional health, free play, and – of course – hygge, The Danish Way of Parenting makes a strong case for a more empathetic way of raising children than the old school authoritarian style and gives parents practical tools to avoid yelling and spanking. A modern parenting classic with a decidedly Scandinavian flavor.


10 Things Girls Need Most: To Grow Up Strong and Free

By Steve Biddulph,

Book cover of 10 Things Girls Need Most: To Grow Up Strong and Free

Why this book?

Biddulph really helps you understand that if you want girls to grow strong, you have to help them grow slow and you do this by investing your time and attention - talking to them, playing with them, and cultivating their confidence!

Self-Reg: How to Help Your Child (and You) Break the Stress Cycle and Successfully Engage with Life

By Stuart Shanker,

Book cover of Self-Reg: How to Help Your Child (and You) Break the Stress Cycle and Successfully Engage with Life

Why this book?

Dr. Stuart Shanker is the rock star of Self-Regulation; what he doesn’t know about children is not worth knowing. This book lifts the lid on the many hidden and surprising sources of stress for children, and the impact stress has on their mind, behaviour, and nervous system. Packed with stories of the children he has treated and families he has helped and peppered with facts about the brain and nervous system, this book helps parents discover what could be causing their children’s behavioural, emotional, and learning problems. Best of all, it offers concrete steps parents can take to help children develop their self-regulation skills and successfully engage with life.


Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder

By Richard Louv,

Book cover of Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder

Why this book?

It’s mind-boggling for me to even consider the amount of research and interviewing that went into this genre-establishing tome. In it, Louv shares the stories of hundreds of kids to prove that there is a new disorder plaguing young people today: A lack of connection to the world outside their front doors.


The Read-Aloud Family: Making Meaningful and Lasting Connections with Your Kids

By Sarah MacKenzie,

Book cover of The Read-Aloud Family: Making Meaningful and Lasting Connections with Your Kids

Why this book?

I wasn’t sure how an entire book could be written on the topic of reading to my kids. I also thought I knew how to read to my kids. This book took our time together to a new level! The Read-Aloud Family challenged me to make the most of our reading time, equipped me to ask the right questions, and created an incredibly precious space in our days to share together in the delight of stories! Our Read-Aloud time is now my favorite time of the day. This book encouraged me that “Ten minutes matters.” If all I have is ten minutes, it’s worth it to pick up a book and read with my kids. Quickly, that ten minutes turned into one hour a day. This book also includes a very helpful resource guide with lists of suggested reading for each age group.


Baby Teeth

By Zoje Stage,

Book cover of Baby Teeth

Why this book?

Stage’s wonderfully sinister novel documents the early years of a child who seems to have been born bad. The thrill in this one is the ever-escalating war between a precocious and seemingly sweet child and her anguished mother, who knows she’s being manipulated by her daughter, while the father remains oblivious to the horror. It’s unusual, and fun, to read a book in which we get to see things from the child’s perspective as she tries to drive her mother insane.


Oh Crap! Potty Training: Everything Modern Parents Need to Know to Do It Once and Do It Right

By Jamie Glowacki,

Book cover of Oh Crap! Potty Training: Everything Modern Parents Need to Know to Do It Once and Do It Right

Why this book?

I know, I know  – potty training might seem a long time off, but before your expecting friend knows it, the need to begin potty training will be upon them, and trust me it is not for the faint of heart. What better way to face potty training than to laugh through each chapter of this hilarious, brilliant book? With the six-step process shared in the book, we were easily able to get our daughter ready for daycare in plenty of time. So tell your friend to set it aside and believe me they will thank you later.


Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids

By Kim John Payne, Lisa M. Ross,

Book cover of Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids

Why this book?

This was one of the first books I turned to when I wanted to simplify my working-mom-of triplets life! The hardest thing about simplifying my children’s lives was that I had to go against societal norms. Society tells us that kids need more toys, more activities, etc. This book (written by a family counselor and based on thorough research) gave me the confidence to say no to giving my kids a childhood of excess and yes to a childhood with plenty of open space, downtime, and room to create. My triplets are now 12 and I still refer to the lessons I learned from reading this book when they were toddlers. I’m 100% certain that reading this book helped me give my kids a more meaningful childhood! 


The Gender Creative Child: Pathways for Nurturing and Supporting Children Who Live Outside Gender Boxes

By Diane Ehrensaft,

Book cover of The Gender Creative Child: Pathways for Nurturing and Supporting Children Who Live Outside Gender Boxes

Why this book?

The first trans child we know of to self-identify and receive affirmative medical care was Ewan Forbes, whose mother accessed early testosterone treatments for him in the 1920s. A hundred years later, when I’m asked by parents for one book to understand the how’s and why’s of trans kids, Diane’s is my go-to recommendation. Based on her own real-life clinical experience, she sets out a spectrum of gender diversity, and shows how parents can support their children’s explorations and decisions.

Key to this is letting children define their own social presentation and activity, for as she puts it, ‘if we want to know a child’s gender, it is not for us to say but for the child to tell’. Diane demonstrates that this approach allows both child and parent to identify whether their gender expression is ‘insistent, consistent, and persistent’, in other words, the direction in which the child’s exploration will take them. Compassionate, wise, and accessible, this is high-priority reading for parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, teachers, doctors, legislators, and everyone associated with the care of children and adolescents – including the children themselves. 


What About Us?: A New Parents Guide to Safeguarding Your Over-Anxious, Over-Extended, Sleep-Deprived Relationship

By Karen Kleiman, Molly McIntyre (illustrator),

Book cover of What About Us?: A New Parents Guide to Safeguarding Your Over-Anxious, Over-Extended, Sleep-Deprived Relationship

Why this book?

From the well-known author of Good Moms Have Scary Thoughts, this book gets straight to the heart of the matter. Through on-point illustrations, it shows tired and time-poor parents how having a baby impacts a couple’s relationship, what’s really going on inside both of them, what the big issues are, and how to get through this trying time together. Parents will see themselves in the pages and find reassurance that they’re normal, not alone and it won’t last forever. I can imagine couples sitting in bed at night and having a good chuckle, maybe a good cry, and then an even better cuddle afterward. I'm honored that renowned maternal mental health expert and author Karen Kleinman recommends Becoming Us for further reading.

Best for: new parents who don’t know which way is up and for therapists working with new parents who are struggling.


The Blessing of a Skinned Knee: Raising Self-Reliant Children

By Wendy Mogel,

Book cover of The Blessing of a Skinned Knee: Raising Self-Reliant Children

Why this book?

This book is one of the first to point out the pitfalls of “helicopter parenting,” even before the term became widely known. Wendy was one of the first people to point out that as a culture, we were starting to become far too over-protective as parents and how this robs kids of the experiences necessary to become resilient and resourceful. As a psychologist, I was seeing the same trend, and this book was extremely validating and empowering as I worked to help parents see that “hovering” and smoothing every bump in the road was actually counter-productive. This book has been around for a while, but it is still as relevant as when it was first published. 


The Scaffold Effect: Raising Resilient, Self-Reliant, and Secure Kids in an Age of Anxiety

By Harold S. Koplewicz,

Book cover of The Scaffold Effect: Raising Resilient, Self-Reliant, and Secure Kids in an Age of Anxiety

Why this book?

Anxiety is the most common mental health issue among children and adolescents. In fact, estimates are as high as one in five people under the age of eighteen years is likely to suffer from an anxiety disorder. This book provides a framework for parents to help them to provide the support kids need to navigate the journey from childhood to adulthood in a way that encourages the development of confidence and character as they move toward that day when they leave the nest and venture out on their own. 


The Orchid and the Dandelion: Why Sensitive Children Face Challenges and How All Can Thrive

By W. Thomas Boyce,

Book cover of The Orchid and the Dandelion: Why Sensitive Children Face Challenges and How All Can Thrive

Why this book?

Thomas Boyce not only has impeccable credentials as a pediatrician, academic, and epidemiologist, but he also has deep personal history motivating his writing of The Orchid and the Dandelion. That is, he not only knows this topic, he feels it. On top of all of that, he writes with a warmth and poetic sensitivity so often lacking in evidence-based books like this. Boyce writes about orchid children being exquisitely sensitive, so they absorb their environment and thrive under the right circumstances, becoming remarkably insightful and creative. Under adverse circumstances, however, orchid children wilt. Dandelion children, by contrast, are more resilient and can accommodate more adversity without showing too much harm. Another interesting dimension Boyce explores is how the family, school, community, and society can all have an impact on an orchid child’s development.


Raising Your Spirited Child

By Mary Sheedy Kurcinka,

Book cover of Raising Your Spirited Child

Why this book?

Mary Sheedy Kurcinka has been working with parents of difficult children for decades now, except she doesn’t think of the kids that way. Instead of ‘difficult,’ she says, we should learn to think of these kids as ‘spirited.’ When we want to describe our kids as irritable, negative, demanding, and strong-willed, she recommends that we admire their sensitivity, insight, confidence, and insistence on getting what they need. This book is packed with practical ideas for creating a peaceful and loving home environment, and for helping parents learn to soothe their own reactions to behavior that might otherwise be experienced as aggravating, trouble-making, embarrassing, and provocative. 


The Rested Child: Why Your Tired, Wired, or Irritable Child May Have a Sleep Disorder--And How to Help

By W. Chris Winter,

Book cover of The Rested Child: Why Your Tired, Wired, or Irritable Child May Have a Sleep Disorder--And How to Help

Why this book?

The Rested Child puts a different spin on parenting challenging kids. Chris Winter is a neurologist and sleep specialist who has seen countless situations where bad behavior is a symptom of sleep problems. He writes that irritability, ADHD, mood disorders, obesity, and diabetes are only a few of the possible manifestations of sleep disorders. Winters makes some great recommendations, including reassuring kids about “bad sleeps.” Everyone has nights where they don’t sleep so well, he writes, and that’s okay. Because sleep is so important, you want your kid to feel confident and optimistic about their sleeping, not worried. He has some surprising advice, including strongly recommending against sleeping medications of every kind, and advocating for a later start to school, especially for kids from about eleven years old and up.


The Case Against Homework: How Homework Is Hurting Our Children and What We Can Do about It

By Sara Bennett, Nancy Kalish,

Book cover of The Case Against Homework: How Homework Is Hurting Our Children and What We Can Do about It

Why this book?

This oft-neglected topic deserves adult attention. Why are we burning out our kids with homework, especially if it’s not necessary? I love this honest, pull-back-the-wool book which debunks assumption after assumption as it delves into all the not-so-good reasons why we assign homework to kids from preschool to high school. The authors are smart and plucky. If you have school-age kids in your life, you owe it to them to read this book.


Becoming the Parent You Want to Be

By Laura Davis,

Book cover of Becoming the Parent You Want to Be

Why this book?

This book is comprehensive and an excellent guide to cope with “all” your questions, from difficult behavior, fears, trouble with transitions, children’s bodies, weapon play, preferring one parent over another, you name it, this book covers it. I love this book because the authors do a wonderful job of explaining the underlying child development reasons behind baffling behaviors while giving you confidence at the same time.


Between Parent and Child

By Haim G. Ginott,

Book cover of Between Parent and Child

Why this book?

Here’s a classic that remains relevant today. Dr. Haim Ginott’s approach to parenting helps you gain more empathy and calm in your parenting by acknowledging feelings, responding in a way that builds trust, and stopping patterns that bring out difficult behaviors like lying and complaining. I love this book because it’s the foundation of so much respectful parenting, and Ginott remains a giant in the field. 


Big Little Lies

By Liane Moriarty,

Book cover of Big Little Lies

Why this book?

In Big Little Lies, author Liane Moriarty interlaces the lives of five women: Jane, raising a son alone; Celeste, the quintessential beauty, hiding family secrets; Maddie, my favorite, the thinks-too-much, defends-the-weak, won’t-take-no-for-an-answer mom; Renata, the wealthy, most powerful mother at Pirriwee Public School; and Bonnie, the current wife of Maddie’s ex-husband. Never have I loved a female cast of characters as much as I love these women. This story cleverly wraps friendship foes, family saga, and Chick Lit into one page-turning murder mystery. You simply can’t put it down. The excellent writing and superb character development of strong, fierce women make this one of my all-time favorites. This was my introductory book to Lianne Moriarty. Now I read everything she writes. 


The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age

By Catherine Steiner-Adair, Teresa H. Barker,

Book cover of The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age

Why this book?

This book will make you a little uneasy; some of the descriptions and scenarios are downright disturbing. Yet the information is necessary to navigate parenting in today’s world. I felt a strange form of validation reading this work, as I’m all too aware of these issues (bullying, kids feeling ignored, sexting, lack of empathy, etc), but when I bring them up, parents often respond that I have a skewed perspective. But as Dr. Steiner Adaire points out, the kids themselves say “parents are clueless” about their kids’ digital lives.  Her writing is beautiful, and her advice about helping kids think critically about online behavior is second to none. 


Nothing to See Here

By Kevin Wilson,

Book cover of Nothing to See Here

Why this book?

What would happen if children with the ability to spontaneously catch on fire were placed in the care of an unsuspecting and inexperienced nanny? That’s the premise of this bizarre yet endearing novel. Main character and narrator Lillian Breaker isn’t fazed at all when she discovers that the two kids she’s been hired to watch after catch on fire whenever they lose their tempers. Can mutant children who catch on fire be loveable? In Kevin Wilson’s world, the answer is yes! Follow Lillian as she learns that she has the capacity to love such seemingly unlovable, flammable children.


Hold on to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers

By Gordon Neufeld, Gabor Maté,

Book cover of Hold on to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers

Why this book?

The type of attachment people form with their dogs, parents, friends, etc. will impact the relationship in a profound way.  I vividly remember as a young person how my friends would influence the way I would dress, talk, feel, and so behave. The authors of the book describe this phenomenon as ‘pier attachment’ where children nowadays tend to look to their peers for guidance more so than their parents. This is a remarkable force that affects every child as they seek acceptance and direction from one another, which in turn can build their self-esteem or destroy it.  The book Hold on to Your Kids, explains how this attachment has come about, and what as parents, we can do about it.


Child of Mine: Feeding with Love and Good Sense

By Ellyn Satter,

Book cover of Child of Mine: Feeding with Love and Good Sense

Why this book?

Thanks to the ideas in this book, all three of my babies, including one born with feeding challenges, have grown into capable and adventurous eaters. Child of Mine offers a wealth of evidence-based information on what to feed your baby and why, but the true gem is the how. The main principle, the Division of Responsibility, is simple yet powerful; it helps babies enjoy food, takes worries and struggles out of mealtimes, and brings joy (back) to the dinner table.


NurtureShock: New Thinking about Children

By Po Bronson, Ashley Merryman,

Book cover of NurtureShock: New Thinking about Children

Why this book?

This awesome book covers not only raising a baby, but parenting in general. Each of its 10 chapters upends traditional thinking on a parenting topic, like “how to boost baby’s language skills” and “why siblings fight”. It is so engaging that, despite being a bleary-eyed mom of a newborn, I read it in two days!


Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions

By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie,

Book cover of Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions

Why this book?

Like many people, I was really impressed by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED Talk on the problem of a single story. So when I saw that she’d written a short chapbook of feminist advice for a friend who’d recently become a mother to a baby girl, I had to get my hands on a copy. My own daughter was still a preschooler when it came out, so I figured I had just enough time to make good on the fifteen pieces of advice she offers. Witty, wise, and supremely accessible, this is a book for mothers and daughters equally – as well as anyone with an interest in building a more just and equitable world for all.


Too Small to Ignore: Why the Least of These Matters Most

By Wess Stafford, Dean Merrill,

Book cover of Too Small to Ignore: Why the Least of These Matters Most

Why this book?

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Too Small to Ignore. Dr. Wes Stafford, the son of missionaries, wrote amusing anecdotes of his boyhood adventures in a West African village. Also in the book, Dr. Stafford, head of Compassion International, writes of the challenges that children in Africa often face. This book is inspiring and captivating to read and will leave the reader with a greater understanding not only of the beautiful country of Africa but also of the compelling need to champion all the children of the world.


Parenting for a Digital Future: How Hopes and Fears about Technology Shape Children's Lives

By Sonia Livingstone, Alicia Blum-Ross,

Book cover of Parenting for a Digital Future: How Hopes and Fears about Technology Shape Children's Lives

Why this book?

Many parents are worried about the amount of time their children spend with screens and look for ways and a deeper understanding of how to best manage children’s use of modern technologies. I loved how Livingstone and Blum-Ross brought together research, deep thinking, and applicable strategies in one coherent book volume. I learnt so much from reading this book, including how algorithms shape children’s games and social conversations. The most important takeaway for me was the vital need to support children’s rights in the digital age.


The New Six-Point Plan for Raising Happy, Healthy Children

By John Rosemond,

Book cover of The New Six-Point Plan for Raising Happy, Healthy Children

Why this book?

I love John Rosemond! I used to read his weekly parenting columns in the newspaper in the 90s. Rosemond is a Christian parenting expert who gives old-fashioned, common-sense advice. You won’t get any permissive nonsense in his books. He gives very practical advice to raise responsible, independent children. This is an older book from 2006, but the advice is timeless.


The New Dare to Discipline

By James C. Dobson,

Book cover of The New Dare to Discipline

Why this book?

You really can’t go wrong with a parenting book by Dr. James Dobson. I’ve listened to his radio show Focus on the Family for years, and he is a godly man full of parenting wisdom.

There are actually two versions of this book — the original and The New Dare to Discipline. I first read the original and really liked it. However, I could tell on the newer, revised version that Dobson had made it less strict, I assume to appease those who thought he was an authoritarian. I personally liked the original version better, but both are good. Dobson is a good storyteller and basically gives lots of examples of why you must be consistent with discipline. 


Dad's Playbook: Wisdom for Fathers from the Greatest Coaches of All Time

By Tom Limbert,

Book cover of Dad's Playbook: Wisdom for Fathers from the Greatest Coaches of All Time

Why this book?

I found this book enlightening. After all, great dads are leaders and coaches – they use motivation, direction, care, mentoring, and discipline. This parenting expert author gathers together and incorporates the wisdom and knowledge of some of the most famous sports coaches of all time and artfully applies it directly to fatherhood. 


All Adults Here

By Emma Straub,

Book cover of All Adults Here

Why this book?

All Adults Here is a summer read—when you just want something light. It’s a family drama, which I always enjoy, and always seem to write about myself. Plus, its protagonist, Astrid Strick, who, at sixty-eight, comes out to her family as bisexual, makes me really happy. I mean, older people have sexual needs too! There’s also a lovely transgendered character, her son. Really, the book is about inclusivity, and that’s a theme that always sings for me. And Emma Straub is just a beautiful writer.


Dads Don't Babysit

By David Freed, James Millar,

Book cover of Dads Don't Babysit

Why this book?

I call this book ‘the big so what of modern day fatherhood’ as it’s the ultimate destination for where modern day dads can go and what we can achieve. 

James and David have crafted a compelling argument not just about how the world sees dads and the language used, but also sets a pathway toward true gender equality by challenging us about how dads can unlock so much more change across pretty much every facet of society, economics, and more.


The End of American Childhood: A History of Parenting from Life on the Frontier to the Managed Child

By Paula S. Fass,

Book cover of The End of American Childhood: A History of Parenting from Life on the Frontier to the Managed Child

Why this book?

Fass is the professor emerita at the University of California, Berkeley, where she taught for thirty-six years, and the author of numerous books on children’s history. This one I found to be particularly illuminating, as she traces the history of American childhood and parenting from the 1700s to today, wrestling with how shifting American notions of independence and success in turn affected how children were viewed, and how parents parented. For any history buff. 


Do Parents Matter?: Why Japanese Babies Sleep Soundly, Mexican Siblings Don't Fight, and American Families Should Just Relax

By Robert A. LeVine, Sarah LeVine,

Book cover of Do Parents Matter?: Why Japanese Babies Sleep Soundly, Mexican Siblings Don't Fight, and American Families Should Just Relax

Why this book?

The Levines have studied the Gusii of Western Kenya for decades and in this book, they look at childhood in all its glory and compare Gusii parenting and parenting philosophy to Western culture.


1-2-3 Magic: 3-Step Discipline for Calm, Effective, and Happy Parenting

By Thomas W. Phelan,

Book cover of 1-2-3 Magic: 3-Step Discipline for Calm, Effective, and Happy Parenting

Why this book?

Dr. Phelan strikes a home run with his 1-2-3 Magic program for disciplining children, by teaching parents how to use calm communication as opposed to that infused with frustration. The strength of his approach centers on getting toddlers to listen by using mild language and consistency, while refraining from exhibiting the strong emotions that often accompany attempts to reign in negative behavior. Phelan’s approach encourages parents to refrain from reactive communication, by replacing it with a much more effective method of redirecting little ones away from negative behavior. If you want to increase your toddler’s compliance, give 1-2-3 Magic a try. You may think counting doesn’t work, but done correctly, it can add up to amazing results!


Positive Discipline in Everyday Parenting PDEP

By Joan E. Durrant,

Book cover of Positive Discipline in Everyday Parenting PDEP

Why this book?

This book gives parents a good insight into how their children think and feel at different ages. Equipped with this knowledge, parents can understand how punishment can damage children’s self-esteem, relationships with others, and essential communication with their parents. It discusses temperament and how to problem-solve with children of all ages, instead of punishing them for parenting challenges.


Playful Parenting: An Exciting New Approach to Raising Children That Will Help You Nurture Close Connections, Solve Behavior Problems, and Encourage Confidence

By Lawrence J. Cohen,

Book cover of Playful Parenting: An Exciting New Approach to Raising Children That Will Help You Nurture Close Connections, Solve Behavior Problems, and Encourage Confidence

Why this book?

This book is full of fun ideas for learning to play with your children at different ages, letting them lead the play. Play is a fundamental way to grow the brain at any age. So the approach is beneficial for parents as well as kids. Imagine playing as a way to solve behavior problems!


Like a Mother: A Feminist Journey Through the Science and Culture of Pregnancy

By Angela Garbes,

Book cover of Like a Mother: A Feminist Journey Through the Science and Culture of Pregnancy

Why this book?

This book delves into the science of pregnancy, but through a feminist lens. Through extensive research, Garbes details just how the female body creates life, a sometimes grisly and often wonderous process, as well as pans across our culture, with all its pitfalls, to explain just why women deserve better support through medical care and social nets.


The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children

By Ross W. Greene,

Book cover of The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children

Why this book?

One of Dr. Greene’s basic beliefs, reiterated often in this wise and compassionate book, is that “Kids do well if they can.” Instead of seeing their child as manipulative, attention-seeking, stubborn, controlling, or defiant, readers learn to understand that really, the child lacks some necessary skills: flexibility, adaptability, frustration tolerance, emotion regulation, and problem-solving. Using a combination of exposition, explanation, and stories from his decades of practice with troubled kids in many circumstances, Greene shows parents how to put the Collaborative and Proactive Solutions model into action. He reassures readers that—even if they’ve been doing it all wrong until now—there’s always room for growth and change, starting now. “Kids are resilient,” he writes. “They come around if we start doing the right thing.”


No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame

By Janet Lansbury,

Book cover of No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame

Why this book?

Author Janet Lansbury is a gem. She offers the exact lean-on-me confidence for parents that is both gentle and revolutionary. Janet deeply trusts kids and the power of relationships. Her methods work. Her approach is remarkably powerful. If you’ve never encountered Janet Lansbury before, try dipping into this book or her myriad other writings to try her philosophy, which is based on Magda Gerber’s teachings, a pioneer in child development.


Take Back Your Kids: Confident Parenting in Turbulent Times

By William J. Doherty,

Book cover of Take Back Your Kids: Confident Parenting in Turbulent Times

Why this book?

Bill Doherty is an astute psychologist and master storyteller who draws on a great store of examples and anecdotes from his work as a family therapist and director of the University of Minnesota’s Marriage and Family Therapy Program. What he sees most often missing in modern parents is not love, but the confident exercise of authority. His short book is an excellent tutorial on how to practice that. He’s right to emphasize it: At all developmental levels, studies find that an “authoritative” (not authoritarian) style of parenting is the one most often associated with kids’ becoming confident, respectful, and responsible persons. This parenting style values both obedience to adult requirements and independence in children, explains the reasons behind rules, allows give and take, but doesn’t permit kids to treat parents as peers.

Doherty’s chapter on 11 guidelines for giving and getting respect is a gem. He also offers good advice for single parents and blended families and a thoughtful discussion of the benefits of belonging to a religious community, especially one that gets kids involved in service. Page for page, no parenting book I know packs in more practical wisdom in an often entertaining way.


Sparks: How Parents Can Help Ignite the Hidden Strengths of Teenagers

By Peter L. Benson,

Book cover of Sparks: How Parents Can Help Ignite the Hidden Strengths of Teenagers

Why this book?

In this book, the late Peter Benson, argues that by the teenage years, with help every young person can identify their unique strength - the thing they are naturally good at and would do anyway if left to their own devices. He argues this doesn’t have to be academic. It can be things like the ability to listen, a commitment to animal welfare, a passion for the environment, anything in the creative arts, or caring for others. He discussed how every single young person can be helped to identify their ‘spark.’ I often cite Benson’s concept of ‘spark’ in my own books because it does so much to help young people feel better about themselves, find their life purpose and undo the damage our grades-obsessed, one-size-fits-all education system does to the self-worth of so many.


More Than Happy: The Wisdom of Amish Parenting

By Serena B. Miller, Paul Stutzman,

Book cover of More Than Happy: The Wisdom of Amish Parenting

Why this book?

Serena Miller is one of my favorite fiction writers. However, once when researching to write a novel based on the Amish, she couldn’t help notice that the Amish had the happiest, nicest children she had ever seen. So, she changed from writing a fictional novel to writing a book about how the Amish parent.

I recommend this book because it reminds you that your children don’t need video games, smartphones, or tablets to entertain themselves. The Amish children can easily, happily entertain themselves with very few simple toys. And they know how to cook and do practical skills as small children. Great inspiration.


Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting

By Myla Kabat-Zinn, Jon Kabat-Zinn,

Book cover of Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting

Why this book?

Jon Kabat-Zinn is a world-renown specialist in mindfulness – the mind-body experience of being fully present and aware in the moment. Mindfulness is an effective practice for optimal emotional and physical health and well-being. We know that people around the world parent in many different ways, depending upon their background, culture, life experience, etc. What I love about this book is that if you want to learn to be more present in our highly-distracted, busy world, there is a gentle way to move toward having more of this presence in life, no matter your background – with your children, partner, and others. The wisdom of mindfulness found in this peaceful book helps develop greater empathy and connection with ourselves and those in our family.


Childhood: A Multicultural View

By Melvin Konner,

Book cover of Childhood: A Multicultural View

Why this book?

Konner is an anthropologist and physician who spent time with the !Kung hunters and gatherers studying children. This book is based on the PBS show Childhood, and it is everything you might want to know about childhood because it traverses both biology and culture. A dense read, but worth it.


The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids

By Madeline Levine,

Book cover of The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids

Why this book?

Over and over I urge my clients to read this book before they think they need to…even if they’re not “privileged.” In it we learn the real-life effects of over-privilege, of giving our kids too much, and more, of not expecting enough from them. Learning the critical connections between the choices we make for our kids and their emotional development certainly helps any parent to be the parent she hoped to be.


Praying the Scriptures for Your Children

By Jodie Berndt,

Book cover of Praying the Scriptures for Your Children

Why this book?

Instead of fighting with your kids, try fighting for them… on your knees. There is no need we will face in parenting — or that our kids will confront in their lives — that God has not already thought of, and provided for, in His Word. And there can be no greater privilege than partnering with him, through our prayers, to accomplish his best purposes in the lives of the people we love. But where to begin?

In Praying the Scriptures for Your Children, you will discover how using the Bible to shape your desires and requests opens the door to God's provision — and frees us from things like worry and fear in our parenting! Each chapter teaches you how and what to pray for your child(ren) in the following areas: faith, character, safety, relationships, and the future.


No More Perfect Kids: Love Your Kids for Who They Are

By Jill Savage, Kathy Koch,

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

Why 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 share.


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

By Daniel A. Hughes, Jonathan Baylin,

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

Why 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.


Screen Kids: 5 Relational Skills Every Child Needs in a Tech-Driven World

By Gary Chapman, Arlene Pellicane,

Book cover of Screen Kids: 5 Relational Skills Every Child Needs in a Tech-Driven World

Why this book?

I’ve found that to parent with intentionality, I first have to purge away distractions. Parents today are facing challenges that were never an issue in past generations. Likewise, kids today face overwhelming challenges around technology and screens. In Screen Kids, I discovered freedom from guilt and encouragement for how to parent against the current. It’s ok to raise my kids differently. It’s also worth it. This book equipped me with incredibly important ways to take back our home and parent on purpose.


Growing Kids God's Way: Reaching the Heart of Your Child With a God-Centered Purpose

By Gary Ezzo, Anne Marie Ezzo,

Book cover of Growing Kids God's Way: Reaching the Heart of Your Child With a God-Centered Purpose

Why this book?

I love the Growing Kids God’s Way series! The first book saved my sanity when my twins were infants. The sleep training and daytime routines helped me go from 2 ½ hours of non-consecutive sleep each night, to both twins sleeping 12 hours per night with four 2-hour naps during the day.

I read the entire series which goes from newborns to teenagers. These are very practical books with topics such as potty training, highchair manners, and structured routines. They also have all their parenting videos on the site which are fantastic.


How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids

By Jancee Dunn,

Book cover of How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids

Why this book?

Not only is Jancee Dunn wickedly funny, but her real world, practical advice, collected by experts (including my tips in a chapter about organizing your home), will resonate with new and not-so-new mothers everywhere. 

Although my children are now young adults, I remember the white-hot fury Jancee describes about why and how I became an expert on everything, from changing diapers, to scheduling carpools, to filling out the 42 pages of forms required for a teen trip to Australia, even though I worked more hours than my husband. I particularly enjoyed the chapter with advice from an FBI hostage negotiator. Who knew that simply paraphrasing your spouse’s words could work such wonders in diffusing a marital spat?


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

By Sarah Turner,

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

Why this book?

The Unmumsy Mum is a fresh, funny, and incredibly brave account of one woman’s struggles through motherhood. Best of all, it is HILARIOUS! I laughed out loud SO many times. It’s a great book to keep you company through new motherhood and beyond. This is the funniest book I have read in years. It’s also refreshingly honest! Anyone who’s been through the turmoil of a new baby will relate to Sarah’s highs and lows. When I read this book, I felt like Sarah was a new best friend and a really funny one. Thank you Sarah for being brave enough to bare it all and making us laugh along the way.


The 10-Minute Refresh for Moms: Less Stress, More Joy

By Nichole B. Clark,

Book cover of The 10-Minute Refresh for Moms: Less Stress, More Joy

Why this book?

As a parent, we all struggle with self-care.  The book is relatable. Real-life stories highlight the struggles many moms go through. The author talks about how we put so much on ourselves as moms and yet we still feel unworthy.

With the help of this book, moms can evoke self-care for themselves - in as little as 10 minutes a day. There is a course you can take along with it if you want.


Preparing for Parenthood: 55 Essential Conversations for Couples Becoming Families

By Stephanie Dueger,

Book cover of Preparing for Parenthood: 55 Essential Conversations for Couples Becoming Families

Why this book?

What I love most about this journal-type workbook is how practical and easy to digest it is. The book doesn’t give specific advice but provides prompts and worksheets for couples to focus on the most frequent topics of concern for new parents so they can plan ahead for how to manage them. The book poses thought-provoking questions for partners to learn more about their own and each other’s experiences, values, and hopes and discover where both their challenges and strengths may be. Couples can pick it up, open it to any page, and have conversation prompts as well as an action item that can help them to move forward. I can imagine couples revisiting these conversations again and again over time to see how they’ve progressed and where any sticking points might still need to be worked through.

Best for: expecting couples or those who are thinking about having a baby with good self-awareness and for professionals to recommend to expecting couples with good self-awareness.


French Children Don’t Throw Food

By Pamela Druckerman,

Book cover of French Children Don’t Throw Food

Why this book?

I found French Children Don’t Throw Food funny and inspiring in equal measures. The author humorously describes the differences in French and Anglophone parenting styles in a self-deprecating style. It’s not an overly prescriptive book, rather it is mainly the author detailing her own personal experiences, as an American mother living in Paris. The author highlights her pain and struggles of getting her child to eat, relax, and be on its own, compared to French children who seem to, in general, do it all with minimum effort from their parents. It’s a fun, easy to read book, which has many interesting observations and research. I found the style of French parenting and general attitude mirrored some of my approaches with dogs.


Never Let Go: How to Parent Your Child Through Mental Illness

By Suzanne Alderson,

Book cover of Never Let Go: How to Parent Your Child Through Mental Illness

Why this book?

This book was another total game-changer and I will never stop recommending it. It totally benefits from being written by a parent, rather than a clinician, but fearlessly tackles the terror faced by mothers and fathers when their child starts to struggle with a serious mental health crisis. It also offers a fearless road map out of this dark place. Suzanne writes beautifully too which makes the book easy to read despite its difficult subject matter. Suzanne now heads up the charity and Facebook support group, Parenting Mental Health, which is a safe haven for many parents where they can honestly express what it’s like to be in this very scary place.


Promises I Can Keep: Why Poor Women Put Motherhood Before Marriage

By Kathryn J. Edin, Maria Kefalas,

Book cover of Promises I Can Keep: Why Poor Women Put Motherhood Before Marriage

Why this book?

Two researchers moved into a lower-income neighborhood and got to know over 100 young single mothers. They wanted to know: what were these women’s lives like in the years, months, and seconds leading up to pregnancy and parenthood? I love this book because it makes me feel like a fly on the wall for long, honest, intimate conversations between close friends, some of whom happen to be freakishly talented sociologists. The main lesson is not that surprising to economists but shocks everyone else: most teen mothers are not making “mistakes” in the heat of the moment. They’re doing their best to make hard choices in situations where they perceive no better options. Beautiful, heartbreaking, and galvanizing. 


How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character

By Paul Tough,

Book cover of How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character

Why this book?

As a writer, I admire this book as a great work of creative nonfiction. The book uses captivating stories and research to make a deep point with bipartisan appeal. Yes, “character” matters. That impulse to exert effort, that strength to persevere through challenges, that discipline and self-control, and patience – all the stuff that many people especially on the Right celebrate as “personal responsibility” can and does drive success. But where does “character” come from? Mostly it doesn’t come from individual choices or innate endowments determined at birth. It comes from environmental influences – opportunities and safeguards we provide for children’s development – and that many people especially on the Left try to provide through public policy. If entire demographic groups appear more likely to lack “character,” that reflects our shared collective refusal to make character-building opportunities more widely accessible. 


BIFF for Coparent Communication: Your Guide to Difficult Texts, Emails, and Social Media Posts

By Bill Eddy, Annette Burns, Kevin Chafin

Book cover of BIFF for Coparent Communication: Your Guide to Difficult Texts, Emails, and Social Media Posts

Why this book?

Bill Eddy is the expert on reducing conflict in high-conflict divorce (all of his books are well worth reading). Conflict in divorce can be traumatic, and especially hurts the children. Bill has useful acronyms and tools to help manage the intensity of communication between divorcing parents. His style is conversational and informal, but his content is rich. I like the way he illustrates his points with stories of people he’s worked with. I recommend BIFF and other tools to my patients going through divorce.


The Baby Owner's Manual: Operating Instructions, Trouble-Shooting Tips, and Advice on First-Year Maintenance

By Louis Borgenicht, Joe Borgenicht,

Book cover of The Baby Owner's Manual: Operating Instructions, Trouble-Shooting Tips, and Advice on First-Year Maintenance

Why this book?

This humorously titled book actually takes itself pretty seriously, and contains some solid parenting advice. Like all parenting guides it is to be taken with a grain of salt, but I applaud the light-hearted tone it takes. All too often parenting books make the overwhelming experience of becoming a parent even worth by taking it too seriously, The Baby Owners’ Manual shows the right approach.


What is a Family?

By Edith Schaeffer,

Book cover of What is a Family?

Why this book?

In this classic book that has wisdom for today and all time, Edith Schaeffer seeks to define the family in terms of a balanced environment, the birthplace of creativity, formation center for relationships, a shelter from the storm, a relay of values, and so much more. This is one of the most inspiring books I read as a young mother and I put many of Schaeffer’s ideas into practice in raising our three children. I love her narrative approach and stories about her family and how to make lasting memories with our kids and family.


Life Span Development: A Topical Approach

By Robert Feldman,

Book cover of Life Span Development: A Topical Approach

Why 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.


Parenting With Depression Made Easier: how to defeat depression and mental illness with power, love and family.

By Evan Richards,

Book cover of Parenting With Depression Made Easier: how to defeat depression and mental illness with power, love and family.

Why this book?

This book, again, tackles mental health issues. And yes, I cried reading it. It defines depression and explains the different types of mental illness. In the second chapter, it debunks 10 myths around depression. The author encourages you to address your mental illness and gives you various methods to do so.



The Smiling Mask: Truths about Postpartum Depression and Parenthood

By Carla Joan O'Reilly, Peggy Collins, Tania Bird, Elita Paterson

Book cover of The Smiling Mask: Truths about Postpartum Depression and Parenthood

Why this book?

This book focused on three stories from women who experienced postpartum depression in varying degrees. Through the stories, it raises awareness about various degrees of postpartum depression and the spectrum of symptoms. The stories are raw and emotional.  And yes, I cried through many parts of the story.

The title refers to how we try to hide from the realities of parenting by wearing smiling masks even when we are depressed. A must-read for ANY parent – any gender, any experience level.


Almost Amish: One Woman's Quest for a Slower, Simpler, More Sustainable Life

By Nancy Sleeth,

Book cover of Almost Amish: One Woman's Quest for a Slower, Simpler, More Sustainable Life

Why this book?

Parenting with intentionality necessitates a certain degree of extremism. It takes a lot of effort to do things differently from the society around us. In Almost Amish, we gain a glimpse into Amish communities and why they do what they do. We’re not challenged to overhaul our lives and do as the Amish do, but rather to consider the heart and purpose behind their ways of life and how we can implement some of those principles to strengthen family ties and purposefully raise our kids. My main takeaway from this book was the importance of slowing down and enjoying my kids — not making them the center of my world, but rather doing life alongside them in a meaningful and fun way.


Raising a Happy, Unspoiled Child: How Parents Can Help Their Baby Develop into a Secure and Well-adjusted Child

By Dr. Burton L. White,

Book cover of Raising a Happy, Unspoiled Child: How Parents Can Help Their Baby Develop into a Secure and Well-adjusted Child

Why this book?

This book is great for parents of babies and toddlers under the age of three. Dr. White contends that if you don't have your babies under control by the time they are 14 months old, you're headed for those terrible twos. Under control means: Do they lie still for you while being diapered? Do they hit and kick? Do they take no for an answer? He believes that basic obedience should be established by this young age.

In addition to training your child to obey, he also goes through the stages of development for children up to 36 months. He goes over things like how to react to a child’s intentional cry, sleep problems, and whining. I found this to be a very practical book.


How Schools Really Matter: Why Our Assumption about Schools and Inequality Is Mostly Wrong

By Douglas B. Downey,

Book cover of How Schools Really Matter: Why Our Assumption about Schools and Inequality Is Mostly Wrong

Why this book?

I discovered this book after struggling to convince skeptics that schools are by far the most equal part of childhood, not the bastions of inequality most people believe based on misleading news articles and (great) books like Savage Inequalities by Jonathan Kozol. I didn’t seem to make much progress no matter how much data I showed people, so I found it cathartic to hear a top sociologist work through this exact problem in a different way. The book is rigorous but the author writes in a plainspoken, wry style that keeps things lightweight. I already agreed with him and he still greatly enriched my perspective.