My favorite parenting books

19 June 2018

I feel like it’s trendy right now for people to say that they don’t read or like parenting books… but I unashamedly love them! I think if you don’t like them, you might not be reading the right ones :) Just because I finish a book doesn’t mean I agree with everything in it, but I find it valuable to have my parenting ideas challenged, encouraged, and refined through exposure to other perspectives.

If you’re looking for the good kind of parenting book, I have a few suggestions! In alphabetical order…

favorite parenting books

All Joy and No Fun | You guys are probably sick of hearing about this book, ha! I think the author and I have a similar desire to confront conventional wisdom and some of the “sacred cows” of parenting, and to examine them in a way that empowers parents to chart their own course. The author is also great writer, and the way she weaves together family narratives and hard data will keep you engaged!

Bringing Up Bebe | I will admit that before I read this book I did not have high hopes – it seemed like a kind of “pop parenting” book that might not jive with my style or offer any interesting insight. Boy, was I wrong. Beyond offering a fascinating glimpse into another culture and being (again) very well-written, there were tons of actionable ideas I plucked from Pamela and tucked into my own parenting toolkit.

The Fringe Hours | This book isn’t for just parents — it’s for anyone who struggles with finding time for herself — but I think it’s earned a spot on this list for obvious reasons. Jessica and I are kindred spirits: we both think people should stop saying they’re busy, we like calendars with lots of white space, and we don’t feel guilty about doing things we love. If you like EFM but struggle with these things, you will probably like her book. I wrote about it here, too.

How To Celebrate Everything | For me, one of the most magical parts of being a parent is creating magic for my children. (The secret here — and the beauty — is that kids are so ready to see the magic in everything!) This is by far the best book I’ve read on creating traditions and cultivating a rich family life in the most doable, joyful, real-person way. One of my favorite gifts for new parents!

Last Child in the Woods | This book took awhile for me to get through, but I loved the reminder of how vital our children’s connection to nature is. This is something I already believe in passionately, but I welcomed the reminder to dig in and make this happen despite all the factors that conspire against it! If you dream of your kids growing up in nature but have concerns about how to make that happen, this book is for you.

Last Child in the Woods

The Lifegiving Home | Judging by the sheer number of quotes I saved from this book in my “good words” folder, it’s a slam-dunk inclusion on this list. With four grown children, Sally has actually created the home so many of us desire – one filled with love, joy, meaning, and purpose, that launches children who are confident, kind, full of integrity, and in love with God.

Nurture Shock | This book was fascinating!! In addition to having eyeopening research, I loved the specific and actionable suggestions for all sorts of topics, from encouraging early vocabulary to fostering sibling relationships, cultivating executive function in preschoolers, and arguing with a teen :) This reminded me of Freakonomics or one of Malcolm Gladwell’s books.

The Opposite of Spoiled | I don’t expect John and I will find it difficult to talk about personal finance and generosity with our kids (it is, after all, one of our favorite topics!), but, being extremely practical and action-oriented, this book gave me some new tools for our kit. I took it out of the library, but imagine I’d like to re-read it when our kids are different ages!

Parenting with Love and Logic | If I had to pick one book that most closely aligned with my overall parenting and “discipline” philosophy, it would probably be this one. I love the author’s focus on teaching children responsibility through logical consequences, resulting in kids who are confident and motivated and parents who maintain healthy control, simply. I have recommended this one to SO many people since I’ve read it.

Simplicity Parenting | I found that I already agreed with and intrinsically knew the premise of this book — “the power of less” to raise calmer, happier, and more secure kids — but it was still a worthwhile read. I skimmed a lot of this book (it’s a little repetitive), but was happy for the reminder and encouragement! If you find yourself fighting the temptation to do and be more, more, more as a parent, this could be a great read for you!

The Tech-Wise Family | This easy-to-read but impactful book had me exclaiming “yes!” and reading passages to John all the way through! (In fact, since it’s short and digestible, it’s a great one to encourage your husband to read if you want to start a more open parenting dialogue!) Even as someone who already identifies as fairly anti-technology in terms of parenting, this book expanded my horizons and gave me so many great points to consider.

To Kill a Mockingbird | Yes, my favorite book of all time is partly my favorite because of all the parenting wisdom it imparts! If I had to choose one fictional character to model my parenting after, it would be Atticus. I find a new nugget every time I re-read it.

favorite parenting books

Whew! I think there’s something there for everyone, so happy reading, friends! :) You know I’m never done, so here are a few of the ones next on my list: Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World, French Kids Eat Everything, Screamfree Parenting, Babes in the Woods, How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk, The Lifegiving Parent, and Hands-Free Mama.

I would love to hear a favorite parenting book of yours in the comments!!

P.S. I am working on a follow-up post to this one that shares bite-size favorite takeaways from some of these books – look for it in the next few weeks! :)

P.P.S. My pregnancy reading recommendations

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June 19, 2018 8:31 am

Love this post, and will definitely be following up on some of your recommendations.

Have you read the The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery by Ian Morgan Cron? He believes Atticus is a One and has lots to say about his wonderful parenting. On a related note, since having a child I have become even more fascinated by personality frameworks and trying to understand how I am shaping my son and what is already written in the stars.

June 19, 2018 11:13 am

This is such a great list! Lately, Dillon and I have been thinking in more of a long-term, family-oriented mindset with the culture of our home. I’m currently reading The Lifegiving Home and have also begun (and am thoroughly enjoying!) The Tech-Wise Family. I will surely be tucking this list away to refer back to! :)

Kelly Strawberry
June 19, 2018 12:36 pm

Currently reading the Last Child in the Woods. Very research heavy in the first half describing the current problem, but I’m hoping the second half is more solution-based!

I know most share your opinion and loved it, but I just can’t get on board with the Lifegiving Home. Sally’s chapters were pretty good and I definitely had some takeaway nuggets, but the fluffiness/wordiness in ever other chapter, plus the constant mention of tea and classical music, was just too much for me. I honestly think you, Em, could have taken the those same ideas and written the same book one hundred times better. :)

June 20, 2018 10:36 am

I agree with Kelly and came here to say the same thing. I have heard many people give glowing recommendations for the Life Giving Home and I just couldn’t get through it. It was a library book so I couldn’t keep coming back to it before I had to return so maybe I should buy it and take my time? Ha! I’m just wondering what I’m missing!

On another note, I feel like we have similar life/parenting philosophies so I’m excited to check out some of these recommendations I haven’t read yet!

Bethany Howe
June 19, 2018 12:43 pm

What a great list! I’m very intrigued by Last Child in the Woods. I don’t read parenting books, but I think I will check a few of these out!

June 19, 2018 10:03 pm

I want to browse your copy of How to Celebrate Everything if you are willing to loan it to me for a few days! I will gladly trade you the LifeGiving Parent when I’m done too. It’s SO good!

June 19, 2018 10:12 pm

Thank you for all these suggestions and backgrounds, lots of new-to-me options I’ve added to my Amazon book list (although sadly not many are at my local library, surprisingly!).

June 20, 2018 9:53 am

Who doesn’t love a parenting book?! they have to be lying!
I cannot wait to read some of these recommendations, thank you sweet Em for sharing x

June 20, 2018 11:50 am

Love and Logic is awesome. They have a small Love and Logic Magic version for 1-6 year olds that’s super practical and fairly short. In my opinion it’s a little more realistic and a good place to start with the Love and Logic ideas.

June 29, 2018 8:12 am

Thank you so much for this post! I bought three off of your list and dove into Love and Logic last night-loving it so far. Have you heard of If it is a book you want to keep instead of rent from the library, it’s a great place to look first-amazing prices and all have been in excellent condition from my experience.

July 3, 2018 5:01 am

[…] July Goals 1. Private faith-related goal this month–say a prayer for me as I work on a special project! 2. Make dentist appointments for all three of us and map out appointments for the rest of the year 3. Make a final decision on our porch redecoration and plan accordingly for end-of-summer sales 4. Plan fun road trip activities with Dave ahead of time so we use our upcoming 22 hours in the car well (Leave ideas for us in the comments, please! :)) 5. Celebrate one sister’s birthday and one sister’s bachelorette weekend from afar 6. Choose a yoga class at the gym and go weekly 7. Write a guest post for Spoken Bride 8. Come in under our budget for the month, especially for our Charlie and “everything else” categories (our two toughest to stick to recently) 9. Finish Brideshead Revisited and read Parenting with Love and Logic (as per Emily’s recommendation) […]

July 3, 2018 1:11 pm

Thank you for the recommendations! Now that we are exploring “terrible twos” this post is coming at the perfect time! :)

[…] a larger sense, y’all know I love my parenting books – and my favorite ones are chock full of anecdotes and findings from studies just like the […]