Before I started on my parenting journey over 10 years ago, I was not at all prepared for what was about to come. I think my mom dug out an old book on pregnancy for my better half, but from memory, that was about the extent of my research!
Best Parenting Books
Hindsight is twenty-twenty of course, and my approach to parenting has pivoted somewhat. I’m still no psychologist, but we now have a bunch of the best parenting books scattered around the house – great to pick up and flick through from time to time, especially when you are facing a particular situation you’ve not come across before.
I compiled this list of Best Parenting Books 2023 to help you on this journey we call life – I hope it’s of some use to help you navigate along the way!
What Criteria Make a Good Parenting Book?
A good parenting book should offer practical advice and real-life experiences for parents to be able to help children but in their own style. It should include tips and strategies for raising children in different stages of child development and addressing specific challenges that parents commonly face when their children grow.
The best parenting books should also present information in a clear and concise manner that is easy to follow and understand. It’s important for a parenting book to have a well-researched and evidence-based approach to offer readers a sense of credibility.
A good parenting book should empower and inspire parents to make positive changes in the way they parent and enhance their relationship with their children but in their own parenting style.
How Many Parenting Books are Included in This List?
This list includes various different types of top parenting books, covering topics from newborn care dealing with parenting issues. In total, there are 9 parenting books in this list that provide a range of expert advice and practical tips to help parents navigate the ups and downs of raising happy and healthy children.
- Best Of The Best – The Whole-Brain Child Authors: Daniel J. J. Siegel, Tina Payne Bryson
- Best For Dads – The Explosive Child Author: Ross W. Greene
- Best For Pregnant Mothers – Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom Is Wrong Author: Emily Oster
- Best For Newborn Babies – What To Expect The First Year Author: Heidy Murkoff
- Best For Toddlers – The Montessori Toddler Author: Simone Davies
- Best For School Aged Children – How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk Authors: Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish
- Best For Gentle Parenting – Raising Good Humans Author: Hunter Clarke-Fields
- Best For Children With Autism – The Reason I Jump: Author: Naoki Higashida
- Best For Children With ADHD – Smart But Scattered Authors: Peg Dawson and Richard Guare
Best Parenting Books – My Overall Favorite
The Whole-Brain Child Authors: Daniel J. J. Siegel, Tina Payne Bryson
I do not claim to be a clinical psychologist by any means, but it seems like parenting experts Siegel and Bryson have masterfully intertwined the complexities of neuroscience with practical, everyday parenting strategies. Their use of simple, relatable anecdotes really helped my understanding of the more intricate scientific concepts.
The book’s 12 strategies, which are based on fostering a healthy balance between the two hemispheres of the child’s brain, were not only insightful but also incredibly applicable. I particularly appreciated the author’s exploration of how to handle a child’s emotions, especially in times of distress. It’s written from a point of mutual respect and positive guidance – fostering empathetic communication, and teaching children about their own brain’s reactions was genuinely enlightening.
Siegel and Bryson’s emphasis on the importance of nurturing the different parts of the brain, not just managing their behavior, was a refreshing perspective. It encouraged me to focus more on understanding the root causes of my child’s actions rather than simply reacting to the behavior itself.
One of the standout elements of the book was the integration of the Whole-Brain Child Workbook within the text. It’s a helpful, practical component that was hugely beneficial in helping me apply the strategies in real-life scenarios with my own children.
To sum up, “The Whole-Brain Child” is a great read for every parent. First published in 2011, it has really stood the test of time – a book I would highly recommend to all parents, educators, or anyone who regularly interacts with children. While it may not provide a magic solution to all parenting woes, it certainly offers a deeper understanding and a more compassionate approach to nurturing a child’s developing mind.
Best For Dads
If you are a single-parent father or just looking for some tips for dads my best book for fathers is as follows.
The Explosive Child Author: Ross W. Greene
I found this book to be a profoundly enlightening and practical guide to help parents as well as educators dealing with children who often have a tantrum or act out.
Greene has this cool way of looking at things – he’s all about understanding kids instead of blaming them. His motto is “Kids do well if they can,” which kind of flips everything on its head. Instead of getting mad at the kid, he suggests we try to figure out why they’re acting out in the first place. That idea alone was a big eye-opener for me.
What’s really neat about this book is that Greene focuses on helping kids develop the skills they’re lacking, instead of just trying to manage their behavior. It’s all about empathy, patience, and understanding, instead of punishing mistakes.
If you’re a parent or an educator dealing with kids who often lose their cool, this book could really help you out. I’d definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a more understanding and effective approach to dealing with kids.
Best For Pregnant Mothers
Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom Is Wrong Author: Emily Oster
Ok, so I am a man and can’t carry children but I recently finished reading “Expecting Better” by Emily Oster.
Oster, who’s an economist by trade, dives into all the dos and don’ts we hear about pregnancy and actually breaks down the data to see what’s legit and what’s maybe just old wives’ tales.
What I really loved about this book is Oster’s no-nonsense, practical approach. She’s not about telling you what to do or not to do. Instead, she gives you all the facts, explains the risks and benefits, and helps parents understand what’s right for you and your family. It’s all about empowering you to make informed choices, which I think is super cool.
All in all, “Expecting Better” is a fantastic read for anyone who’s tired of the “because I said so” approach to pregnancy advice. If you’re all about making your own informed decisions, this book is definitely worth checking out.
Best For Newborn Babies
What To Expect The First Year Author: Heidy Murkoff
I can confidently say that it serves as an indispensable guide for many parents navigating the challenges and joys of their child’s first year of life.
The book covers a comprehensive range of topics, from feeding and sleeping schedules to developmental milestones and health concerns. Murkoff’s writing style is accessible and informative, offering practical advice and reassurance to parents who may feel overwhelmed by the myriad of questions that arise during their baby’s first year.
One of the standout features of the book is its month-by-month format, which allows parents to follow along with their child’s growth and development. The inclusion of detailed information on what to expect at each stage, as well as potential issues and how to address them, helps parents feel more confident and prepared.
Despite these minor shortcomings, “What to Expect the First Year” remains a must-read for new parents. Its comprehensive coverage of the first year of a child’s life, paired with Murkoff’s clear writing and practical guidance, make it an essential addition to any new parent’s library.
Best For Toddlers
The Montessori Toddler Author: Simone Davies
As a parent whose kids attend a Steiner education, I am familiar with the Montessori style of education, and this book is a game changer for anyone with a tiny human in the terrible twos (or threes or fours).
Davies is a Montessori teacher, and she’s all about helping parents see the world from their toddler’s point of view and prepare them for preschool. The whole idea is that if we understand why they’re acting the way they are, we can respond in a way that respects their natural development and curiosity. And that is where the magic happens – If you’ve ever had your toddler have a meltdown in a grocery store once you read this book you will begin to understand why.
The book’s packed with practical tips and ideas for creating a Montessori-friendly home, which is basically an environment where your little explorer can safely learn and grow. Davies gives you the lowdown on everything from setting up play spaces to dealing with potty training the Montessori way.
One thing that really stood out for me was her advice on how to encourage independence. It’s not about pushing your kid to do things on their own, but about creating opportunities for them to try. That was a real lightbulb moment for me.
Best For School-Aged Kids
How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk
Authors: Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish
“How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk” by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish, is like hitting the jackpot for anyone struggling with communication hurdles with their kids – a must read book.
Faber and Mazlish have this down-to-earth style that makes you feel like you’re chatting with a couple of wise friends. They’re all about improving your children’s behavior without nagging, pleading, or losing your cool. And who wouldn’t want that, right?
The cool thing is they’re not just giving you a bunch of do’s and don’ts. They dig into the reasons why kids react the way they do and teach you how to respond in a way that respects the kid’s feelings. They really nail the idea of empathy being a game-changer.
The book is chock-full of practical tips and examples. My personal favorite is the bit about how to give criticism without crushing your kid’s spirit. They also talk about alternatives to punishment, which I found super useful.
There are these fun cartoons scattered throughout the book that help illustrate the points, which I thought was a nice touch. It’s like a cheat sheet for remembering the techniques when you’re in the heat of the moment.
All in all, “How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk” is a must-read for any parent or anyone who deals with kids regularly. It’s packed with insights and tools to help you have more effective and respectful conversations with your little ones. Definitely a thumbs up from me!
Best For Gentle Parenting
You may not have heard the term Gentle Parenting, but to give you a brief overview, it’s an approach that emphasizes empathy, respect, and understanding in raising children.
It focuses on building a strong, nurturing relationship with children, using positive discipline techniques, nurturing the parent-child bond, promoting emotional regulation, and encouraging effective communication. The goal is to raise confident, empathetic children through compassionate guidance rather than punishment.
Raising Good Humans Author: Hunter Clarke-Fields
Clarke-Fields takes a real-deal look at the ups and downs of parenting, and she’s got this way of making you feel like you’re not alone in the struggle. She’s all about breaking the cycle of reactive parenting, which is basically when you react in the heat of the moment instead of responding in a thoughtful, mindful way.
One thing I loved about this book is how Clarke-Fields dives deep into the whole mindfulness thing. She’s not just talking about sitting in a quiet room meditating, but about using mindfulness in the middle of a toddler meltdown or a teen attitude fest. And let me tell you, it’s game-changing stuff.
In a nutshell, “Raising Good Humans” is a must-read for anyone looking to parent in a more mindful, less reactive way. It’s not about being a perfect parent, but about raising kids who are kind, confident, and yeah, pretty darn good. If that sounds like your jam, give this book a go. Two thumbs up from me!
Best Parenting Books For Parents Of Children With ADHD
I took inspiration from this list of Best ADHD Books, but if your child is diagnosed with ADHD, check out these suggestions:
“Smart but Scattered” by Peg Dawson and Richard Guare, is a real gem for anyone dealing with kids who are bright, but struggle with getting it together.
The real eye-opener for me was the way they explain how these skills are tied to brain development. They’ve got this really friendly, approachable way of breaking down the science so it’s easy to understand.
The book’s full of strategies and tools to help kids boost these skills, and what I love is that it’s all super practical. Instead of just theory, they give you real, actionable tips you can use with your kids straight away. There are even a bunch of questionnaires to help you figure out where your kid’s strengths and weaknesses are.
If you’ve got a kid who’s smart as a whip but just can’t seem to stay organized or focused, you’ll find “Smart but Scattered” a real lifesaver. It’s like a user’s manual for helping kids reach their full potential. Even if your kids don’t struggle with these issues, there’s a ton of advice in here that could help any parent. All in all, a solid read. Highly recommend.
Best Children With Autism
If your child has a brain development condition, be it autism or similar, then you will need to consider some practical strategies to help connect and communicate with your child.
The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism – Author: Naoki Higashida
The way Higashida writes is so raw and honest, it’s like he’s sitting right next to you, having a heart-to-heart. He answers a bunch of questions people often have about autism, like why he jumps (hence the title), why he repeats things, and why it’s tough for him to make eye contact.
What really hit me was how Higashida describes his experiences and feelings. He paints these vivid pictures that make you feel like you’re experiencing things right alongside him. It’s powerful stuff that makes you see autism in a whole new light.
In a nutshell, “The Reason I Jump” is like a bridge between the world of autism and the rest of us. It’s a must-read for anyone looking to understand more about what it’s like to live with autism. Hats off to Higashida for sharing his story in such a beautiful and brave way. Highly recommend giving this one a read.
About the author:
Matt Hapgood is a father, surfer, and entrepreneur. He has worn many hats in his career, from being a removal guy in Vancouver to teaching elementary kids in the UK, as well as a parking valet in the French Alps. He’s the founder and main contributor to MattHapgood.com and is currently living in the Algarve, Portugal.