When I was pregnant with Ella, I remember multiple people commenting saying, “I can’t wait to see what parenting books you are reading and recommend.”
And I laughed to myself because I wasn’t reading parenting books.
I was reading a dang lot of young adult novels.
In fact, I believe the only parenting book I read during the entire nine months was Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child.
That tells you basically everything you need to know about what I was most worried about in becoming a parent. Parenting books about breastfeeding, labor and delivery, or discipline? Meh.
Getting enough sleep? I will read that book.
(Also Ralphie recommend it to me, and my life motto is to do whatever Ralphie tells me to do when it comes to parenting).
But now almost a decade since that first positive pregnancy test, I’ve read more than a few parenting books and I’ve found some favorites that I wanted to share.
I’m also currently reading How to Be A Happier Parent (the book in this photo) and it’s excellent so far!
Here are eleven parenting books I’ve already finished and loved.
My Favorite Parenting Books
The Collapse of Parenting: How We Hurt Our Kids When We Treat Them Like Grown-Ups by Leonard Sax
This parenting book was SO helpful to me. The basic premise is that our current culture is one of disrespect and a lack of authority by parents. Without that parental authority, children don’t care much for what their parents think and they care WAY more about what their peers think about them, and children grow up without gaining the skills to deal with life’s challenges. After the general setup, the book focuses on three main things that parents can do to raise healthy, happy, and self-reliant children. I LOVED this book and need to go back and read it again. (Full review here).
French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billon
When you have young children, food is EVERYTHING. Between snacks, healthy eating, developing a sophisticated pallet (or, you know, more than chicken fingers and popcorn), and not making dinner time a constant power struggle, it seems like nothing except sleep causes more parental angst. I read this book early on in my parenting journey and it’s made a huge difference in our family happiness. If you’re struggling with picky eaters or mealtime power struggles, I HIGHLY recommend this book (Full review here).
Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman
This was one of the first parenting books I read (mostly because I can’t stand to miss the boat on anything popular) and it made a profound impact on my parenting. Plus it was just a delightful read. (Along these same lines, Say Bonjour to the Lady is a hilarious quick book about the differences between American and French parenting, all shown in illustrations). (Full review here).
The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age by Catherine Steiner-Adair
I read this back in 2014 and started making changes almost immediately (five years later, I probably better read it again). It’s fascinating and inspiring. Fair warning that there is quite a lot of graphic language in the chapters about teens and sex and bullying online.
More Than Happy: The Wisdom of Amish Parenting by Serena B. Miller
I loved this interesting look at a different parenting culture (so much so that I included it on my Summer Reading Guide a few years ago). It’s in the same vein as Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and Bringing Up Bebe, but unsurprisingly this is by far the gentlest of the three.
The Secrets of Happy Families: Improve Your Mornings, Rethink Family Dinner, Fight Smarter, Go Out and Play, and Much More by Bruce Feiler
I have regretted for almost seven years that I never wrote a full review of this book – it’s just SO good and packed with helpful chapters written in a really interesting way. If you need a parenting book to inspire you and give you actionable ways to improve your family life in specific areas, this is the book to read.
Free Range Kids: Giving Our Children the Freedom We Had Without Going Nuts With Worry by Lenore Skenazy
Lenore Skenazy shot onto the national news when she wrote about letting her 9 year old ride the NYC subway alone. This book came out of that with advice for how to give your child freedom and autonomy without also losing your mind with fear, especially in a world where the media coverage of every bad thing going on makes it seem like sending your child to the playground alone is pretty much on par with letting them play with explosives in the backyard.
Lighting Their Fires: Raising Extraordinary Children in a Mixed-up, Muddled-up, Shook-up World by Rafe Esquith
I am a huge Rafe Esquith fan and I feel like I need to re-read his books every few years to help me stay focused on helping my children get the best education they can. His books about schooling, education, and encouraging children to love learning and get a rich education are just SO good. (Full review here)
NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman
I read this book before I had children and I still think about it ALL the time. From bedtimes to praise, this book is fascinating and so helpful, with lots of research. (Full review here)
Ignore It!: How Selectively Looking the Other Way Can Decrease Behavioral Problems and Increase Parenting Satisfaction by Catherine Pearlman
This might be the single most useful parenting book I’ve ever read. It’s SO hard not to pay attention to all the bad things your children do and easy to not notice or acknowledge the GOOD things they do, but since most childhood behavior is attention-seeking, the more you pay attention to bad behavior, the more you’re accidentally encouraging it. This book is so helpful and changed our home virtually overnight. (Full review here).
The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed by Jessica Lahey
It took me forever to open this parenting book, but once I started, I couldn’t stop talking about this. Seriously a great parenting book with lots of great discussion of helping your child develop a growth mindset and how to stop over-parenting.
What are your favorite parenting books? I’d love more recommendations!
If you liked this post about parenting books, you might also like these posts:
- The Read-Aloud Family: Making Meaningful and Lasting Connections with Your Kids by Sarah Mackenzie
- How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids by Jancee Dunn
- 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam