There are hundreds of books on parenting.
How do you know which ones are actually worth the cost and the time it takes to read them?
Gone are the days when you could just pick up Dr. Spock’s book and think, “Well, this should cover everything.” (It never did.)
And now the competition for the money and attention of new parents is stiffer than ever.
One way to narrow the field is to read articles like this one on the top parenting books available — particularly those that address specific parenting stages and situations.
Parenting help comes with a wide variety of approaches and philosophies, so it helps both to know your own philosophy of child-rearing and to be open-minded when it comes to new and different ideas.
None of us has parenting all figured out, after all.
But there are some parenting truths that apply to everyone.
Table of Contents
25 of the Best Parenting Books
Enjoy this carefully curated list of 25 of the best books on parenting. We’ve broken it down into five categories to make it easier to choose the right book for your situation.
Parenting Books for Toddlers
There are plenty of good parenting books written for the parents of toddlers, but the following seven continue to attract and help parents with children under the age of five.
1. Parenting from the Inside Out: How a Deeper Self-Understanding Can Help You Raise Children Who Thrive (10th Anniversary Edition) by Daniel J. Siegel, MD and Mary Hartzell
Written by a well-respected child psychiatrist and an early childhood expert, this book combines cutting-edge research and hands-on experience to help parents reach a deeper understanding of themselves and of their children.
2. No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame by Janet Lansbury
With her twenty years of experience helping parents and toddlers, Dr. Lansbury offers practical and effective advice for parents whose toddlers are testing the limits of their patience and love.
3. The Montessori Toddler: A Parent’s Guide to Raising a Curious and Responsible Human Being by Simone Davies and Hiyoko Imai
The author uses her knowledge of the Montessori method to turn the “terrible 2’s” into a time of calm, creative exploration and learning for your curious toddler.
4. The Happiest Toddler on the Block: How to Eliminate Tantrums and Raise a Patient, Respectful, and Cooperative One- to Four-Year-Old by Harvey Karp, MD
In this book, Dr. Karp helps parents to see their toddlers not only as pint-size people but as pint-size cavemen.
He also reveals the key to communicating effectively with them to facilitate growth and create lasting emotional bonds.
5. 1-2-3 Magic: 3-Step Discipline for Calm, Effective and Happy Parenting (…for Children 2-12) by Thomas Phelan
Using his signature counting method, Dr. Phelan helps parents deal with meltdowns and tantrums, whining, talking back, sulking, sibling rivalry, and other parenting challenges.
6. Brain Rules for Baby (Updated and Expanded): How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child from Zero to Five by John Medina
Dr. Medina shares the latest science on brain development in infants and toddlers and reveals how you, as a parent, can put this knowledge to work for your child’s benefit.
7. The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind by Daniel J. Siegel, MD and Tina Payne Bryson, PhD.
As the title suggests, Drs. Siegel and Bryson provide a revolutionary approach to childrearing with their 12 key strategies for optimal brain development.
Parenting Books for Moms
These books were written either by moms or for moms, offering a woman’s perspective on parenting and child development.
8. How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish
The Boston Globe praised this book — written by two experts on parent-child communication — as the ultimate “parenting bible,” providing time-tested and innovative solutions for common parenting challenges.
9. Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting by Laura Markham
Based on the science of child brain development and the author’s own clinical experience with parents, the simple and effective approach in this book helps you connect emotionally with your kids to create a deep and lasting bond of trust and mutual respect.
10. The Danish Way of Parenting: What the Happiest People in the World Know About Raising Confident, Capable Kids by Jessica Joelle Alexander and Iben Sandahl
What is it with Danish parents, and how do so many of them manage to raise happy, confident children? T
he popular concept of hygge is a clue, and this book reveals all.
11. Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids by Kim John Payne and Lisa M. Ross
Instead of raising your kids in an atmosphere of too much stuff, too much busyness, and too little time for family, let the authors of this book help you transform your family life by scaling back on toys, media, and clutter and making time for calm and connection.
12. The Conscious Parent by Dr. Shefali Tsabary (with a preface by The Dalai Lama)
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This book focuses on mutual kinship and spiritual partnership between parent and child (rather than discipline or dominance) to reveal a conscious approach to parenting that facilitates mutual growth and transformation.
Parenting Books for Dads
These books were written either by dads or specifically for dads, with a guy’s perspective on parenting and its many challenges.
13. Parenting with Love and Logic: Teaching Children Responsibility by Foster Cline and Jim Fay
Drs. Cline and Fay teach parents how to establish their authority in a loving way and to teach children responsibility and strength of character, without threats, nagging, or power struggles.
14. The Five Love Languages of Children: The Secret to Loving Children Effectively by Gary Chapman
Written by a dad for both mothers and fathers, this book is related to Dr. Chapman’s bestselling book, The Five Love Languages and specifically addresses those of your children — how to keep their love tanks full and strengthen the bonds between you.
15. No Drama Discipline: The Whole Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind by Daniel J. Siegel, MD and Tina Payne Bryson, PhD
Using what the authors know of child brain development, this book helps parents identify their own parenting philosophy and connect with their children on a deep level to build strong and mutually trusting relationships.
16. Be Prepared: A Practical Handbook for New Dads by Gary Greenberg and Jeannie Hayden
The authors of this book provide no-nonsense, in-the-trenches tips for new dads, teaching them all they need to know about fatherhood and building strong and loving connections with their kids.
17. The New Father: A Dad’s Guide to the First Year by Armin A. Brott
From the author of The Expectant Father, this book covers all aspects of fatherhood during the first year, giving new dads a month-by-month guide to their child’s development and helping them understand their importance and impact as fathers.
Blended families present their own unique challenges. The following books were written to help new step-parents thrive and build trusting relationships with their spouse’s children.
18. The Single Girl’s Guide to Marrying a Man, His Kids, and His Ex-Wife: Becoming a Stepmother with Humor and Grace by Sally Bjornsen
Funny and empathetic advice for the novice stepmother — whether your husband’s ex is a saint, a psycho, or something in between.
19. Step Parenting: 50 One-Minute DOs and DON’Ts for Stepdads and Stepmoms by Randall Hicks
This book provides insightful and actionable advice — for stepmoms, stepdads, and existing parents — on how to navigate the challenges that come with blended families.
20. The Smart Stepfamily: Seven Steps to a Healthy Family by Ron L. Deal
This book reveals seven steps to a healthy, blended family, drawing from the experience of veteran stepparents and looking at the challenges from all angles.
21. Stepmonster: A New Look at Why Real Stepmothers Think, Feel, and Act the Way They Do by Wednesday Martin
Fully half of all women in the United States will live with or marry a man with children, making this book a valuable resource.
The author offers fascinating stories and insights from her own experience and that of the stepparents she’s interviewed.
The authors of the following books have learned what it takes to help children (and their parents) through the trauma of divorce and separation.
22. The Co-Parenting Handbook: Raising Well-Adjusted and Resilient Kids from Little Ones to Young Adults through Divorce or Separation by Karen Bonnell and Kristin Little
Get this book if you’re dealing with the pain and disorientation that come with divorce (or separation) and want to know effective strategies for helping your kids (and you) thrive in spite of the upheaval.
23. Mindful Co-Parenting: A Child-Friendly Path Through Divorce by Jeremy S. Gaies, Psy.D. and James Morris
This book will help you choose the most child-friendly divorce proceedings and to navigate co-parenting once the divorce is final, as well as other challenges that come up — in order to protect and even strengthen the bonds between you and your kids.
24. Co-Parenting with a Toxic Ex: What to Do When an Ex-Spouse Tries to Turn the Kids Against You by Amy J.L. Baker and Paul R. Fine
Divorce is difficult enough when your ex-spouse is cooperating with you. When he or she is poisoning the minds of your kids and others against you, learn from those who’ve been where you are now.
25. Putting Children First: Proven Parenting Strategies for Helping Children Thrive Through Divorce by JoAnne Pedro-Carroll
The author is internationally renowned as an authority on children and divorce. In this book, she shares research-based strategies for helping children cope and thrive before, during and after a divorce.
Did you find the best parenting book for you?
Now that you know some of the best parenting books available, which ones have the strongest pull for you? What specific concerns do you have that you hope a book will address?
Maybe you have experience and insights to share in a parenting book of your own.
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In any case, the more you learn from other parents who’ve been through the same things or who’ve experienced challenges you’ve yet to face, the better prepared you’ll be to rise to the occasion and build strong, trusting relationships with your kids.
And the better prepared your children will be to do the same if they become parents.
May your passion for learning and your love as a parent influence everything you do today.