Mom’s Bookshelf, Vol 8: Parenting Edition

When I became a new parent I thought that all the answers were to be found in parenting books. After all, I’d just spent more than 20 years of my life in school, earning an advanced degree so it seemed obvious that I should turn to books for knowledge.
Useful parenting books. You will actually want to read these. Great information and helpful.

But now, after a full day of parenting, the last thing I usually want to do is pick up a book that taunts me with all sorts of ideas of how I could have done everything better. If only I hadn’t raised my voice… if only I’d spent more time outside… if only I’d fixed a more nutritious meal… if only I’d not yelled so much, if only I’d spent hours playing musical games…


And yet…

I’m not immune to the parenting book phenomenon. I’ve read my fair share. Here are some I actually recommend. They won’t talk down to you, they won’t make you feel guilty. But, they will help. (Note: book titles and covers are affiliate links.)

The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind. I absolutely LOVE this book. It really gets you thinking about how you cannot expect a child to act like a mini grown up and presents strategies to help your child learn, not how to force him to behave. One thing I really love is that each chapter included a comic strip to read to your child about how he can help himself. Wonderful addition to any parenting library. For extra assistance, there is The Whole-Brain Child Workbook: Practical Exercises, Worksheets and Activities to Nurture Developing Minds.

No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind. This is a bit of a companion book to the above book and includes real life strategies to help you and your children have a more peaceful life. For those of us who don’t like time outs (they don’t work anyway!) and want to have a healthy relationship based on mutual trust, this book is a must.

The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children. Can we all agree that pushing a frustrated child to just “see how their behavior is wrong” does. not. work. at. all.!!!! Even if you don’t have an extremely explosive or regularly angry child, the collaborative strategies in this book will be incredibly useful for any parent. Greene has a terrific website with videos and worksheets to help you.

Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason. Cohn works extensively in the educational arena (his is a big proponent of the no homework philosophy). In this book he challenges parents to stop thinking about disciple in terms of punishments and rewards (sticker charts, anyone?) and instead think critically about what they want their relationship with their children to be like, and how they want their children to view that relationship. Even if you don’t agree with Cohn’s ideas on discipline, you will still get a lot from his philosophy and research.

Playful Parenting. Reading Unconditional Parenting can be a frustrating experience for parents who like a side of solutions along with a main course of theory. Fortunately, Cohen offers practical tips and suggestions to struggling parents who are looking for alternatives to time outs and counting to three.

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk. My friends, let me tell you: the advice in this book works. And I especially appreciated that the authors did not talk down to me.

The Essential Stay-at-Home Mom Manual: How to Have a Wondrous Life Amidst Kids and Chaos. Using real life stories and perspective, Hyland-Tassava offers friendly, non-judgmental advice and outlines easy-to-implement baby steps to keep SAHMs from sinking under the stress of it all. I actually think this book is good for working moms, too. You can read my full review here.

The Happiest Baby on the Block. This book is no joke for sleep deprived parents. I’m not saying I was a well-rested parent when my children were infants (I’m still not), but Karp’s method of calming your baby is a viable alternative to those to wish to avoid “cry it out”.

Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys. Essential reading for parents of boys.

Your Seven-Year-Old. Almost every day I think, “I wonder if other kids act as crazy as mine do? Everyone else seems so normal!” This series of books (one for each year) has been essential in reassuring me that my fears are irrational!

The Male Brain/ The Female Brain. These were not written as parenting books, are! I recommend The Male Brain to all my boy mom friends because it made me feel so much calmer about some boy behaviors (also, ladies it will help you figure out why your husband “didn’t hear you” even though you told him something 12 times. Ahem.). Also, there are some key changes in the male brain around puberty that you need to know about. Let’s just say when my son stops wanting to hug me all the time, I’ll be okay with that. You’ll have to read the book to find out why. I don’t want to spoil the surprise. For those of you with daughters, I think you’ll be equally enlightened by The Female Brain, especially when you find out little tidbits like how, for the female brain, talking is a more potent drug than cocaine. Can you tell I like to talk about these books? What can I say, I’m addicted.

And so which parenting books do you recommend?

Let me help you find books for your kids and keep them (almost) effortlessly entertained. Receive a printable bookplate when you sign up for our Weekly-ish Newsletter.


  1. says

    Just requested a copy of “Raising Cain”.

    The parenting book of the year for me is “Parenting a Child Who Has Intense Emotions”. Because I have three.

    I can totally believe that talking is more potent than cocaine for the female brain. When I need to wake up and make myself clean the house I call my sisters for motivation – and they do the same!

  2. says

    Thanks for sharing this list. The Happiest Baby on the Block saved my sanity when mine were babies, not sure what I would have done without it. Lately my oldest has been such a challenge (wild and rambunctious three year old boy I can handle, snotty seven year old girl with an attitude, I cannot) and I've been thinking its about time to find some parenting books, and lo and behold you write this list.

  3. Megan D. Neal says

    Unconditional Parenting was quite eye-opening for me; I haven't read the other one of his yet.
    Like you I tend to avoid parenting books since I already feel guilty enough.
    I really enjoyed reading Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne.

  4. says

    YES to The Happiest Baby on the Block. I also love the Love and Logic books, The Parenting Breakthrough, and Bringing Up Geeks (I have a bit of a parenting book obsession myself!).

  5. Sarah says

    This is a great list! I would suggest also Pink Brain/Blue Brain about the neurological development of the brain in utero and beyond as a way to get beyond gender binaries. It very much helped me reflect on how gendered our expectations of children are and the importance of getting outside of these boxes. The author argues/presents data that there are more differences among girls or boys than between the two groups.

Feed My Comment Addiction

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *