30 Best Parenting Books For Raising Children

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So, you’ve signed up for at least 18 years of diapers, carpooling, homework, teen angst, and a whole lot of tantrums (from you and the kids). Now you’ve got to figure out how to survive it.

Even the best parenting books in the world won’t clean up toddler spillages, nor will they put your kids through college, but they can help you mold your little humans into kind, intelligent, driven bigger humans.  

30 Best Parenting Books For Raising Children

Parenting books can give new and experienced parents helpful insights into childhood development, discipline strategies, and advice on how to prepare your child for life in the real world.

RELATED: 10 Tips For Raising Perfect, Unspoiled, Angel Kids

These parenting books were written and recommended by experts who specialize in parenting and childhood development. Dr J. Renae Norton, an Ohio-based clinical psychologist; Dr Kathleen Friend, a children’s physician; and Michelle Chaisson, a family and marriage counselor in Florida, offered expert selections that have helped them in their work with youths and parents.

Best Parenting Books For New Parents

Becoming a new parent goes one of two ways. Either you’re the first in your inner circle to have a baby and you’re left up the creek without a paddle, or you’re not and you can barely hear your baby crying over all the advice, warnings, and suggestions from your friends and family.

Either way, it helps to do your own research and listen to the experts so you can find a parenting style that suits your newly expanded family.

1. The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind by Daniel J Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson

There’s no how-to manual for parenting, but this book comes pretty close. Daniel J. Siegel, neuropsychiatrist, and parenting expert, Tina Payne Bryson, walk us through early childhood brain development, and make important links between childhood tantrums and how your kids will deal with stress as adults.

The 12 actionable steps will help both parents and children to find more calmness and happiness in their family.

(Purchase on Amazon)

2. Like a Mother: A Feminist Journey Through the Science and Culture of Pregnancy by Angela Garbes

Parents or not, this is a book all women should read in their lifetime! Angela Garbes, a Seattle-based journalist and mama, turned her focus to science-based parenting research after her pregnancy and found that so much factual, important information is omitted from conventional wisdom.

This book takes us through pregnancy and post-partum, and offers a full-frontal look at what’s really happening during these life-altering months, and why women deserve access to better care, support, and information.

(Purchase on Amazon)

3. Cribsheet: A Data-Driven Guide to Better, More Relaxed Parenting, from Birth to Preschool by Emily Oster

This one is for economists out there. With so much conflicting parenting advice out there, new parents might find themselves pushed and pulled between different concepts all the time.

Oster, a Professor of Economics at Brown University, crunched numbers and compared studies to provide statistically successful parenting advice and methods. Basing her data analysis primarily on the first 3 years of childhood, she addresses and debunks assumptions surrounding breastfeeding, circumcision, sleep, and more.

(Purchase on Amazon)

4. Taking Care of Your Child: A Parent's Illustrated Guide to Complete Medical Care by Robert Pantell

Sure, parenting theories and suggested methods are useful in your child’s developmental health, but sometimes the only parenting advice you need is no-nonsense medical facts.

This book coaches parents to recognize the difference between minor injuries to emergency situations and tells us what to do in each. Covering topics from allergies to childhood depression, it’s the kind of book you’ll carry around with you until your child is old enough to speak to the doctor themselves.

Its accessible index allows you to look up a symptom and get all the information you need before you have time to panic. 

(Purchase on Amazon)

Best Parenting Books For Newborns

The first few months of a child’s life can be a complete blur of diapers changes and nighttime feeds, and without useful information, it can be hard to keep up. But this is an important time to lay the groundwork for successful parenting.

Here are the best parenting books for babies to guide you through their infancy. 

5. What to Expect the First Year by Heidi Murkoff

The What to Expect series is the ultimate handbook for parents and has played an important role in raising children since 1984. This revised third addition takes us from birth to your newborn’s first birthday month by month.

Parents raising babies don’t have time to read long, text-heavy books, so this one is filled with helpful images and quick flick-through segments that cover sleep safety, feeding, green parenting, sleep training, attachment parenting, and more. 

(Purchase on Amazon)

6. The Wonder Weeks: A Stress-Free Guide to Your Baby's Behavior by Xaviera Plas-Plooij, Frans X. Plooij PhD and Hetty van de Rijt, PhD

If a book could see into a baby’s brain, this would be that book.

It recognizes and explains your infant's every move in the first year of life so you can stop stressing about the little things. It even has a corresponding app to help track your baby’s wonder weeks after finishing the book. 

(Purchase on Amazon)

7. The Fifth Trimester: The Working Mom's Guide to Style, Sanity, and Success After Baby by Lauren Smith Brody

Lauren Smith Brody is a writer, producer and speaker who previously held a role as executive editor for Glamour Magazine, making her the ultimate working mom. For new parents, the transition back into professional life after having a baby can be a tough one, but Smith Brody will teach you how to do it like a boss.

The book teaches parents how to control both their professional and personal lives with guidance on asking for more flexible time and more money. But my favorite tips have to be Smith Brody’s advice on getting the most out of your hectic schedule, with 60-second beauty routines and self-care sessions during your work commute.

(Purchase on Amazon)

RELATED: 5 Ways Parents Can Re-Bond With Their Kids At Any Age

Best Parenting Books For Toddlers

The toddler years are less about surviving sleepless nights and more about having productive days with your child. You’ve learned how to run on 2 hours of sleep by now so it’s time to channel what’s left of your energy into your kids’ early brain development.  

8. The Out-of-Sync Child by Carol Kranowitz and Lucy Jane Miller

As your child grows and you start to learn more about their development, it helps to have a parenting book about developmental issues in your arsenal. Family and marriage therapist, Michelle Chaisson, recommends this one.

Out-of-Sync Child offers comprehensive, clear information for parents and professionals — and a drug-free treatment approach for children. This revised edition includes new sections on vision and hearing, picky eaters, and coexisting disorders such as autism and ADHD, among other topics,” she says.

The book is part of an expansive and educational series about Sensory Development Disorder, and helped Chaisson’s own family to access support and resources they needed.

“Being the parent of a child on the spectrum, this book was one of my first revelations understanding my son and advocating for his special needs with his medical and mental health team,” Chaisson adds.

(Purchase on Amazon)

9. Oh Crap! Potty Training: Everything Modern Parents Need to Know to Do It Once and Do It Right by Jamie Glowacki 

Jamie Glowacki is a parenting advice blogger, social worker, and mother who knows how to get the job done when it comes to potty training.

Her no-nonsense approach answers all the questions parents have around how and when to potty train. It’s witty, to-the-point, and makes something fun out of a crappy situation! 

(Purchase on Amazon)

10. Transforming the Intense Child Workbook by Howard Glasser

If you’ve been researching different parenting styles since you found out you were going to become a parent, you may have heard of the Nurtured Heart Approach. 

Dr. Kathleen Friend M.D, a physician, mother and children’s book author, is an advocate for this method, which teaches parents to celebrate their children’s unique qualities and use encouragement to combat behavioral challenges.

Dr. Friend recommends this book as “a clear articulation of the Nurtured Heart Approach — a way of relating to children that fosters strong positive relationships between the parent or teacher and builds emotional wealth in children.” Throughout her career as a physician, Dr. Friend says she learned, “Building this emotional wealth is protective against many mental health issues of childhood.”

(Purchase on Amazon)

Best Parenting Books For Preschoolers

As your children begin to find their own voices and personalities, it can be hugely beneficial to fill their little minds with the mental supports needed to make intelligent, emotionally strong children.

In these years, happiness should be your main goal for your children, and instilling them with confidence will help them achieve just that. 

11. The Greatness Chair by Dr. Kathleen Friend

In The Greatness Chair series, Dr. Kathleen Friend transforms the concept of a children’s book into an educational experience for both adults and kids. In doing so, parenting becomes a collaborative effort between both adult and child.

Speaking to us about her series, Dr. Friend said, “Based on the Nurtured Heart Approach, this book shows children and parents how easy it is to find the greatness qualities in everyday actions of children that are usually seen as problems. It's enjoyable for children and is parent education in disguise for the grown-ups.”

(Purchase on Amazon)

12. Sarah in the Greatness Chair by Dr. Kathleen Friend

When you and your little one have learned all you can from the first installment of Dr. Friend’s series, the second installment will expand even further on the practice of celebrating uniqueness.

Having spent most of her career as a physician focusing on what was wrong with children, Dr. Friend learned firsthand the value of reminding kids of the parts of themselves that should be celebrated.

“This book is the follow up to The Greatness Chair and builds a technique for calling out greatness in children, which is based on Sarah’s name. The main character is a girl of color, which is an important contribution to anti-racist literature,” comments Dr. Friend.

(Purchase on Amazon)

13. How Maji Gets Mongo Off the Couch! by J. Renae Norton

The Maji and Mongo series is another set of expert-authored children and parenting books.

Dr. J. Renae Norton is a clinical psychologist in private practice who has had a successful career as a therapist for some of the toughest eating disorder cases.

Speaking with us, Dr. Norton spoke of how important it is to build healthy relationships with food from a young age, particularly in today’s climate, as COVID-19 continues to threaten our mental and physical health. (For more information on this, check out Dr. Norton’s recent article on the relationship between COVID-19 and disordered eating).

This book highlights, for parents and children, the importance of physical activity and clean eating. 

(Purchase on Amazon)

14. LET'S EAT!: Maji Teaches Mongo What It Means to Eat Clean! by J. Renae Norton

Dr. Norton’s second picture book builds on some of the lessons of the first while expanding further on how and why clean eating is important.

Dr. Norton tells us, “In this book series, children are introduced to lifestyle issues such as the importance of physical activity and the deliciousness of foods that had a mom or came out of the ground. The reader also learns the value of diversity and the need for living green. The messages in each book, though serious and potentially life-changing, are presented in a way that is sure to engage every child using a rhyming format and adorable illustrations.”

But it’s not just children who can learn from the ideas in the books. As Dr. Norton adds, “Each book also includes an addendum, covering tips for parents that will help them reinforce the concepts.”

(Purchase on Amazon)

RELATED: The One Parenting Lesson I Wish I Had Learned Earlier

Best Parenting Books For Teenagers

Surviving teen hormones, growth spurts, and the rebellious years can cause you to throw everything you thought you knew about parenting out the window. These parenting books for parents of teenagers will help you launch your soon-to-be adults into successful lives of their own. 

15. How To Raise An Adult by Julie Lythcott-Haims 

As you prep your kids (and yourself) to fly the nest, you need to take a look at this manifesto to foster self-sufficiency in your not-so-little ones.

Julie Lythcott-Haims is a former dean of freshmen at Stanford University, and has seen first-hand the harmful side of overparenting and helicopter tendencies. In this book, she offers practical strategies that breed resilience, resourcefulness, empowerment, and determination in preteens and young adults. 

(Purchase on Amazon)

16. The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist's Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults by Frances E. Jensen, MD

As an internationally renowned neurologist and mother of two young adult males, Jensen knows a thing or two about how the teenage mind works.

In this book, she presents her knowledge of brain wiring and functioning in an accessible and entertaining way. Using this information, she dispels many of the myths and untruths that leave teenagers feeling so misunderstood by adults.

Mutual understanding and respect are at the core of good parenting, and this book will help you get to this place with your teens. 

(Purchase on Amazon)

17. This Is a Book for Parents of Gay Kids: A Question & Answer Guide to Everyday Life by Dannielle Owens-Reid

This super-accessible book is written in a Q&A format, making it easy for parents to refer back to as they embrace their child’s coming out journey. It empowers parents and children by teaching appropriate language, and offering emotional guidance and practical support.

Covering topics like coming out to extended friends and family, and how to positively support an LGBTQ child, is an excellent launch pad for a parent whose child has recently come out.

(Purchase on Amazon)

18. Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race by Beverly Daniel Tatum

Though this isn’t specifically a parenting book, it's a useful tool for parents who want to cultivate anti-racist behaviors in their children. It’s one that parents can read and pass down to their teens and other family members, so everyone can be educated on the psychology of race and racism together.

Understanding the dynamics of race and partaking in anti-racist conversations at home is more urgent than ever due to the acrimonious state of race discussion today.

(Purchase on Amazon)

Best Parenting Books For Raising Boys

Boys and girls experience the world differently and, as your children grow older, these differences become increasingly apparent.

Try as you might to breed equality in your family, sometimes raising boys and girls differently is necessary to tackle the different experiences they have as they become socialized in the world. These books for parents of boys will help build confident and caring young men. 

19. What a Son Needs from His Mom by Cheri Fuller

This book celebrates the importance of female intuition and maternal support in the lives of young men. It is a blueprint for mothers to help foster love, respect and healthy masculinity in boys.

Different parts of the book deal with different game stages, hurdles and triumphs, and coaches mothers on when to control and when to let go. 

(Purchase on Amazon)

20. Raising Boys to Be Good Men: A Parent's Guide to Bringing up Happy Sons in a World Filled with Toxic Masculinity by Aaron Gouveia

Gouveia is an award-winning journalist whose parenting advice has been featured in TIME Magazine, who you might know from his viral tweet showing him and his son painting their nails together.

This book is for parents who want to retire the use of the word “girly” as an insult, or those who reject the excuse of “boys will be boys.” The lessons from this book empower boys to feel confident, happy and healthy, away from the restrictive paradigms of toxic masculinity. 

(Purchase on Amazon)

21. Boys & Sex: Young Men on Love, Hookups, Porn, and Consent and Navigating the New Masculinity by Peggy Orenstein 

“By surfacing young men’s experience in all its complexity, Orenstein is able to unravel the hidden truths, hard lessons, and important realities of young male sexuality in today’s world. The result is a provocative and paradigm-shifting work that offers a much-needed vision of how boys can truly move forward as better men,” comments Chaisson.

She describes this book as a must-read for parents of teen boys in the modern age, adding, “In a cyber world, pre-teen and teenage boys have access to millions of people. Learning appropriate means of self-expression is key during this critical stage. With the right education and support from parents, these boys will grow into successful young men.”

(Purchase on Amazon)

Best Parenting Books For Raising Girls

Instilling your daughters with confidence and empowerment is essential as you raise them in a world that will continuously try to tear them down. These books help parents of girls grow into capable, assertive young women.

22. Girls & Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape by Peggy Orenstein

If we’re recommending Orenstein’s Boys & Sex, it's only fair that we talk about the NYT best-seller that started it all. Here, Orenstein speaks to the generation gap that separates parents and their girls by exploring how women learn about and experience sex in the modern world.

Speaking with over seventy young women and a wide range of psychologists, academics, and experts, Orenstein shines a light on hidden truths and hard lessons that girls should know about as they enter womanhood. It’s filled with the kind of content parents don’t want to think about, but definitely should if they want to foster self-love and confidence in their young women. 

(Purchase on Amazon)

23. No More Mean Girls: The Secret to Raising Strong, Confident, and Compassionate Girls by Katie Hurley

Katie Hurley is a child and adolescent psychotherapist, parenting educator, public speaker, and founder of the “Girls Can!” empowerment group. This book confronts many of the challenges parents face while raising young women in the modern world.

Thanks to consumer culture and digital media, girls are often subject to negative stereotypes and harmful comparisons that pit women against each other. This book offers actionable steps to help parents empower young girls to be kind, confident leaders who work together and build each other up

(Purchase on Amazon)

24. The Curse of the Good Girl: Raising Authentic Girls with Courage and Confidence by Rachel Simmons

For too long, being a “good girl” has meant being meek, selfless and not advocating for yourself. In this book, Simmons exposes how this curtails the power and potential of young women, and surrenders them to patriarchal inequality.

This inequality makes women vulnerable in adolescence and adulthood, leaving them ill-equipped to stand up for themselves. The book advocates for female empowerment to begin in parenthood so girls can be the confident, courageous women they were born to be. 

(Purchase on Amazon)

RELATED: 3 Toxic Parenting Styles That Turn Kids Into Narcissists

Best Parenting Books For Discipline

Disciplining children in a way that is productive is one of the most challenging aspects of parenthood. Sometimes, the will to shout and scream can get the better of us, just like it gets the better of our kids, too.

But with these books, you'll find ways to be stern but calm so your integrity is never compromised in parenting. Follow the guidelines suggested by these experts and your kids will thank you.

25. No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind by Daniel J. Siegel

We talked about Siegel’s The Whole-Brain Child, so we have to give his discipline book a mention as well.

Siegel defines disciplining as instructing rather than punishment or reprimanding. In this book, he gives parents and kids helpful tools to redirect frustration and anger towards positive growth and learning.

The books don’t make the same mistakes as other parenting books by telling you what to do and how exactly to raise your children. Instead, it gives parents all the tools and knowledge they need to build their own custom disciplinary style. 

(Purchase on Amazon)

26. Positive Discipline: The Classic Guide to Helping Children Develop Self-Discipline, Responsibility, Cooperation, and Problem-Solving Skills by Jane Nelsen, Ed.D.

Jane Nelsen is a psychologist, educator, and mother of seven, making her a trusted and experienced voice in parenting. Could you imagine disciplining seven children of various ages?

The book prioritizes mutual-respect between children and parents which removes the need for punishment. Nelsen helps parents find ways to be firm but kind, fostering self-discipline and creative cooperation for children from toddlers to teens. 

(Purchase on Amazon)

27. How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish

This best-selling book is part of a 3-part series that covers discipline across different stages of a child’s life and has been dubbed "The Parenting Bible" by critics. The book builds positive communication strategies between parents and children that fosters a sense of understanding.

Good parenting is a collaborative effort between parent and child, and this book will teach you how to be a team with your kid instead of going head to head with them every day. 

(Purchase on Amazon)

Best Parenting Books For Dads

Sometimes, dads are left out of the loop when it comes to parenting. With so many books out there marketed towards mothers, it’s easy for dads to become alienated from the parenting process.

These books give fathers a chance to shine and prioritize the roles of dads in the raising of kids. 

28. Diaper Dude: The Ultimate Dad's Guide to Surviving the First Two Years by Chris Pegula

This book is perfect for the dad who doesn’t want a boring walkthrough of abstract parenting concepts and scientific studies. It is hilarious and anecdotal while still offering plenty of wisdom.

Entrepreneur Chris Pegula has built something of an empire on supporting men to embrace fatherhood. Whether it’s his parenting books or his brand of diaper bags marketed towards dads, he advocates for the belief that you don’t have to lose yourself to become a good dad. 

(Purchase on Amazon)

29. So You're Going to Be a Dad by Peter Downey

The title kind of reads like a pregnancy announcement to your baby daddy, so this one could be used as the ultimate gift to a father-to-be — he might need it!

This one is super-practical with tons of guides for baby-proofing the house, changing diapers, and taking care of moms-to-be. It even includes a section on what childbirth feels like, so every dad can have more respect for the women who carry their children. 

(Purchase on Amazon)

30. Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters: 10 Secrets Every Father Should Know by Meg Meeker

Raising girls can be tough for fathers, particularly for single dads or same-sex couples who may fear their daughter will miss a female role model. But fathers must not neglect the important role they play in their daughter's lives.

Chaisson often recommends this book to the families she works with calling it, “A powerful tool that explains the significant role of fathers in the development and happiness of their daughters.” 

Chaisson also told us, “Fathers are instrumental in how daughters love themselves, interact with others, and he plays a role in her self identity.”

(Purchase on Amazon)

RELATED: How Too Much Parenting Advice & Trying To Be 'Super Mom' Is Stressing You Out

Alice Kelly is a writer and storyteller with a passion for lifestyle, entertainment, and trending topics. When she’s not creating content for Your Tango, you can catch her working on creative fiction and vintage shopping.

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