“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’t happen much, though.”
-J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye
Being the book geek that I am, I often turn to the bookshelves for assistance with my parenting questions or problems.
But which ones are legit?
Parenting books are flush with advice and tips. Some change your game and others you want to throw across the room. Read a page or two and if you find yourself thinking, amen, sister, that’s an author for you. If you’re nose-diving into a Town called Panic, put down the book. Even if your pediatrician or your best friend said it’s their parenting Bible, put it down.
Recently, a friend was having a problem with her two-year old son – hitting when she said no and throwing his food on the floor. She asked for my advice and after chatting for a few minutes, I recommended a couple books.
When it comes to parenting books, a stack stand out for me.
Practical Advice You Can Immediately Apply
- These are books are my parenting Bibles.
How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. It’s a package deal and this is the book to get you there! My pediatrician recommended it when Veronica was one and mine is dog eared, pen marked, and coffee stained. The authors teach you simple, down-to-earth approaches to keep communication open with your child. The funny cartoons illustrate their points and make application easier. Check out this link for another writer’s experience with How to Talk. I also rec the follow up book, Siblings Without Rivalry that helps your children live together so you can have some peace too.
Baby 411 by Denise Fields and Ari Brown, MD. All you need to know is stated in the second part of the title: Clear Answers and Smart Advice for Your Baby’s First Year. If you’re wondering, what the heck am I doing?, this book is your life saver. For a recovering hypo like myself, this was the antidote. When I was wondering about sleep, poop, ear infections, or a rash, I referenced Denise and Ari. The sections are short, straight to the point, and offer useful (calming) advice.
1, 2, 3, Magic by Thomas Phelan.
- These books are for when you can’t handle another parenting horror story or thought about sleepless nights without screaming. These books are like friends you can turn to for a good laugh or comforting words.
Great with Child: Letters to a Young Mother by Beth Ann Fennelly. This book is like your sister, your mother, and your best friend all rolled into one. The author wrote letters to a newly pregnant friend that range in tone from serious to lighthearted and sentimental to straight up funny. She writes about the pleasant surprise of discovering that motherhood “is tremendously sweet, which we all know; it’s also tremendously funny, which isn’t so well recognized.” If you’re looking for short doses of inspiration that will uplift you rather than scare the bejesus out, this is the one for you.
Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman. The French don’t get fat and they raise the perfect children, right? Mais non, but they do have a few parenting secrets the author shares, such as cadre. She writes, “In France I regularly see what amounts to a minor miracle,” she writes, “adults in the company of small children at home, having entire cups of coffee and full-length adult conversations.” You can read more about the book here and here.
Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott.
Sippy Cups Are Not for Chardonnay by Stefanie Wilder-Taylor.
Get Your Academic On
- These books are great when you want to exercise your mind a little. I like a good thinking book to help me understand my girls’ brains and how I can facilitate growth.
Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck. This book struck a cord with me and I wrote about it here. It’s stocked with for savoir-faire for parents. “If parents want to give their children a gift, the best thing they can do is to teach their children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, keep on learning,” says Carol Dweck in Mindset.
NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman.
How to Raise an Adult by Julie Lythcott-Haims.
All Joy and No Fun by Jennifer Senior.
Books That Get Your Child to La-La Land (or so you hope)
- These books are for when you are desperate to find a way to get some sleep and want a tried-and-true path to get your bundle of joy to please-for-the-love-of sleep soundly for 12 hours each night.
The Sleepeasy Solution by Jennifer Waldburger and Jill Spivack. I especially loved the sleeping baby on the front. Man, I was so jealous (yet hopeful) every time I saw that angel. This book considers both the baby and the parents’ needs. It helped me customize a sleep plan that would work for both my frayed nerves for extended crying and my oldest’s ability to keep at it.
The two Bibles on sleep are Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth, MD. and Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems by Richard Ferber. I was obsessed with sleep and like trusted cookbooks, pulled from both when it worked for me. I particularly appreciated it when Weissbluth noted that, “There is no instruction manual that applies to all families, and parenting is the hardest work there is. This is also true because once you figure out how to handle something, your children change and you have to start the learning process all over again.” Both of these methods are explained to the parenting brain in Baby 411. (See, it’s a must!)
The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems by Tracy Hogg. Here I learned about the E.A.S.Y. (eat, awake, sleep, you) method and the importance of my child’s personality.
Books are incredible, so keep on reading, but the power of being with other mothers – especially mothers at the same stage as you – is lifeblood. Books guided me, but it was my new mommy friends that got me through. Read my story here.
What about you? Which parenting books do you recommend? Please comment below, so we can expand our resources.