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The Must-Read List of the Best Parenting Books

Some parenting guides are simply too helpful to be overlooked. We’re reviewing the best parenting books to add to your library or gift to expectant parents.

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Congratulations! You’ve successfully produced another human and you’ve reached the stage where you’re curious about how you should raise your freshly made baby. Fortunately, there are plenty of books you can read that will guide you along the parenting path that awaits you.

Unfortunately, new parents and their more seasoned brethren don’t always have time to read what are widely considered to be the best parenting books available. While parents may be short on free time, certain parenting books are simply too good and helpful to be overlooked.

Adventures From Scratch: Family Edition

Adventures From Scratch by Let’s Roam is a collection of adventure books. These books include adventures for couples or families that are meant to bring people closer together and deepen the bonds they share. Every challenge is an immersive experience that will allow participants to work together, have fun, and make lasting memories.

Although the book doesn’t offer parenting advice, Adventures From Scratch: Family Edition is similar to a guide for having fun with your family members. The book includes more than 50 adventures you and your family can do at home or on the fly.

While no two adventures are the same, some of them have the same theme. When you scratch off your chosen challenge, you’ll embark upon a fun- and laugh-filled journey to a new level of family fun and good times.

If the weekend’s coming up and you’re not sure what you and the family could do for some shared fun, why not have an adventure—from scratch? Adventures From Scratch: Family Edition is packed with over 50 creative activities. Let the kiddos have fun scratching off challenges so you can enjoy new experiences and bond while conquering challenges together!

What to Expect From the Best Parenting Books

In case you can’t carve out time to read a baby book about raising kids, you should know that the best books often cover some key points. Those points typically touch upon the following:

  • Rules and boundaries are essential: Kids need structure and routine to feel safe and loved. It’s worth noting that parents need the same things to keep a firm grip on their sanity. Although it’s not a parenting book per se, Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend is a hands-down, must-read for anyone who struggles with setting boundaries and enforcing them.
  • Allow time for kids to freely play, learn, and discover: Yes, kids need structure, but they also need the freedom to play, learn, and discover with near reckless abandon. Let them do so without inhibiting their natural curiosity. Avoid overscheduling your kids to the point that they don’t have free time to “investigate” the things that catch their attention.
  • Practice mindfulness in every exchange with your children: Raising children involves a countless number of moments you’ll share with your kids. It’s vital to practice mindfulness in as many of those moments as you can. Mindfulness is a state of mind in which you’re fully present and attentive to and engaged with what’s before you, which is how you should be when you interact with your kids.
  • Prioritize communication with your kids: Communicating with your kids will change as your children grow, but it’s crucial for you to maintain an open line of two-way communication throughout your kids’ lives.
  • Value effort over ability: Some kids are born natural athletes while others excel at art. Whenever your children try something new, it’s important to praise their effort without judging their ability. Kids are aware of how good or bad they are at something, and the fact that they’re willing to put themselves out there despite their lack of talent or experience is praiseworthy regardless of how they ultimately perform on the field or piano bench.
  • Being imperfect is A-okay: No matter how hard you try, you’ll never be perfect and neither will your children. And you know what? There’s nothing wrong with that! Perfectionism is a construct that is impossible to achieve because the whole notion behind it is relative. Embrace your children’s imperfections as well as your own.

The Best Parenting Books

If brief takeaways aren’t enough for you, we suggest you pick up a few books that can help you be a better parent. While there isn’t a shortage of parenting books, you should know that they’re not all created equally. Picking the books that are best for you requires serious contemplation about various factors, such as your parental situation, your child’s age, and the specific things you want to learn about.

The Gardner and the Carpenter

Written by philosopher and developmental psychologist Alison Gopnik, The Gardner and the Carpenter dismisses the concept of 21st-century parenting that’s evolved in recent decades. Gopnik makes the claim that parents should refrain from trying to shape their kids into certain types of people.

Rather than obsess and control their kids, Gopnik suggests parents should let their kids be the messy, inquisitive, and unpredictable children they were born to be. Gopnik claims that parents are responsible for creating a safe, loving environment in which their kids can learn and innovate without being molded into a given personality type.

The author drives her point home by acknowledging the differences between parents and their children. She continues by pointing out the varied differences that do and should exist between siblings raised in the same household. Instead of parents pre-determining the kind of people their kids ultimately become, Gopnik maintains that children should determine their own fate through their childhood experiences.

Act Natural

Neither new parents nor non-parents will be disappointed with Act Natural thanks to the biting wit of author Jennifer Traig. Written after the birth of her two children, Act Natural is a wild, in-depth examination of the history of parenting in the Western world.

From giving birth to breastfeeding, potty training, general childcare, and more, Traig’s book covers the full history of Western parenting. Ultimately, Traig asks the tough questions, such as whether modern parenting techniques have truly evolved from earlier practices.

The Happiest Toddler on the Block

Scripted by revered pediatrician and child development expert Dr. Harvey Karp, The Happiest Toddler on the Block is a quick read for expecting parents who want to get ready for their children’s “terrible twos” and the years that follow. This book is a valuable resource for busy parents who want to reduce the number of their children’s tantrums while simultaneously increasing their kids’ patience, self-confidence, and level of cooperation.

For even more insights from the good doctor, you should pick up a copy of The Happiest Baby on the Block at the same time you get The Happiest Toddler on the Block. We encourage you to order both books from Amazon. Remember to navigate to before you place your order so a portion of what you pay goes to your chosen charity.

The Whole-Brain Child

Available as a physical book, an e-book, and an audiobook, The Whole-Brian Child was written by bestselling author and neuropsychiatrist Daniel J. Siegel and parenting expert Tina Payne Bryson. This book explains how children’s brains work and how they change as kids age, grow, and mature.

The Whole-Brian Child provides 12 age-appropriate strategies parents can use in their day-to-day lives as they deal with struggles and celebrate achievements. If you want your kids to enjoy balanced, connected lives filled with meaning, The Whole-Brian Child is a must-buy book you’ll cherish.

Are you interested in more actionable parenting advice? Make sure you add No-Drama Discipline and The Yes Brain to your online shopping cart when you visit the bookstore. Both are written by Siegel and Payne Bryson, and the latter tome has an available workbook that will reinforce the book’s valuable teachings.

Positive Discipline

For a quarter of a century, Positive Discipline by Jane Nelsen has been an invaluable resource for parents with kids of all ages. A notable psychologist and educator, Nelsen is also a mother of seven, which means she has firsthand knowledge of the daily challenges parents face.

In her book, Jane Nelsen explains that positive discipline is all about mutual respect, not punishing your kids. Positive Discipline teaches parents how to be firm and kind so their kids can learn how to be cooperative and self-disciplined without being forced to surrender their dignity.

As you read Nelsen’s book, you’ll discover how to:

  • Bridge gaps in communication
  • Defuse seemingly inevitable power struggles
  • Teach children how to think rather than what to think
  • Rise to the challenges of teenage misbehavior that’s common when kids attend middle and high school
  • And much more!


Throughout their first year of parenting, new parents are often bombarded with advice from doctors, friends, family members, and even strangers. In her book Cribsheet, Emily Oster takes a data-driven approach to some of the most common tidbits of parental conventional wisdom regarding sleep and potty training, breastfeeding, language acquisition, and a host of other topics.

Here are samples of the additional subjects Oster tackles in her book:

  • If and how parents should rejoin the workforce
  • How to approach disciplining a toddler
  • How to go about maintaining a relationship while simultaneously raising children

Oh Crap! I Have a Toddler

In recent years, many parents have attempted to make their kids overachievers by introducing them to subject matter they might not be able to process, such as math or a second language. While educating young children from an early age is important, they shouldn’t be taught complex subjects at the expense of learning basic things, such as how to dress themselves or use the grown-up potty.

As you read the hysterical, genuinely raw, Oh Crap! I Have a Toddler, you’ll see that author and social worker Jamie Glowacki offers real-life, useful insights into parenting young children. Glowacki’s book will help parents refrain from over-scheduling their kids’ activities or engaging in what’s called “helicopter parenting.” After you read this book, you’ll be able to practice good parenting and let your kids grow and learn at their own healthy pace.

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

Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish are the genius minds responsible for How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk. Widely viewed as one of the best parenting books of all time, this classic book offers insights, suggestions, and proven methods that solve parenting problems and enable parents and children to establish lasting, loving relationships.

Some of the topics this book touches upon include:

  • Coping with a child’s negative emotions
  • Expressing your feelings without being hateful or hurtful
  • Getting your child to cooperate willingly
  • Setting firm boundaries without jeopardizing the goodwill that exists between you and your kids
  • Implementing alternatives to punishments that encourage self-discipline
  • The difference between beneficial and unhelpful praise
  • Peaceful ways to resolve familial conflicts

Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids

This book by Dr. Laura Markham is based on the doctor’s clinical work with parents and the latest studies about the brain’s development. While you might expect the book to be a technical exploration of good parenting, it’s not. Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids is a reader-friendly book that will help you establish and maintain an emotional connection with your children. Once you establish that connection, you won’t need to bribe, beg, or punish your kids to get them to behave.

Markham’s guide teaches parents to understand their own emotions and keep them in check. Those insights prepare parents to raise kids with healthy boundaries, empathy, and understandable messaging that combine to allow children to develop self-discipline. The book offers step-by-step examples that make its teachings digestible and practical.

All Joy and No Fun

A lot of parenting books discuss the effects parents have on their kids. With her book All Joy and No Fun, Jennifer Senior flips things around to examine the effects children have on their parents.

An award-winning journalist, Senior carefully discusses the various ways kids reshape the lives of their parents in various contexts, such as their habits, hobbies, romantic relationships, and friendships. Based on various sources of information, Senior claims that changes over the past half-century have drastically changed the roles of modern moms and dads.

Senior also gives real-life insight into the lives of parents raising offspring who range from young kids all the way up to high school teenagers. The author’s adept storytelling will keep you on the edge of your seat as you “watch” these parents navigate the parenting path with some difficult decision-making during tough times and a few heart-warming celebrations of parental joy on brighter days.

1-2-3 Magic

Parents of strong-willed children and little ones prone to throwing tantrums should put “buy 1-2-3 Magic” at the top of their immediate to-do list. Written by Dr. Thomas Phelan, 1-2-3 Magic offers effective solutions that will put an end to parent-child negotiations, backtalk, meltdowns, and other unpleasant behaviors.

The author spells out his signature counting method so parents have what they need to quickly and calmly put an end to undesirable behavior in children ranging from toddlers to middle schoolers. Dr. Phelan also provides actionable tips for parents who want to establish positive daily routines for their kids.

Millions of parents located all over the world have relied on the doctor’s proven methods to raise their kids better and more effectively. When you put the author’s methods into practice, you’ll start to enjoy being a parent again and your family dynamics will quickly improve.

Reading Magic

Well-known for children’s books like Wombat Divine and Time for Bed, Mem Fox is also a literacy educationalist in addition to being an ever-popular author. While Fox penned books such as Boo to a Goose for a younger audience, she wrote Reading Magic for parents.

In Reading Magic, Fox discusses the emotional and intellectual impact reading out loud to children can have on young listeners. Writing with passion and a fair amount of hilarity, Fox instructs parents about when they should read aloud to their children, why they should do it, and where they should read out loud. Fox even explains how you should read so that a given session has the most desirable effect on your kids.

Baby-Led Weaning

Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett challenge the notion that children need to be spoon-fed during the weaning process. The duo makes the case that children can move straight to solid food at their own pace as they’re weaned, and the pair claims that self-feeding is the healthiest way for kids to develop.

Rapley and Murkett write that most babies are ready to join their family at the dinner table at around six months old. The authors recommend letting kids discover solid food for themselves as you continue to wean them off breast milk or formula.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I invest in parenting books?

The best parenting books aren’t just for new parents. They offer valuable information on effective communication, values (and how they can change), boundaries, and self-care.

Is it acceptable to gift a parenting book to an expectant parent?

It’s not just acceptable to give an expectant parent a helpful book—it’s encouraged! Gifting your favorite parenting books allow you to offer advice without needing to make it too personal!

What are parenting books that address handling tantrums?

The best parenting books to help you address behavioral issues include Positive Discipline, The Happiest Toddler on the Block, 1-2-3 Magic, and How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk.

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