The organizer of one of the local parenting groups I’ve worked with before recently asked me if I could recommend a sort of “Best of” book list for a new mom who was joining their group.  It ended up being a really fun reflection for me–which books I like the most, which would be helpful for someone who is just starting their parenting journey…  (with the disclaimer that, of course, no one who has an infant has time to actually read~)  The list ranges from advice about understanding kids’ emotional lives, to childhood sexual development, to basic behavior modification, to advice about feeding and toilet training.

Do you know someone who is about to become a parent? Want a starter book list for yourself or for a loved one?  See below–and let me hear from you if you have book recs for new parents that you think should be on this list.

  • The Whole Brain Child by Dan Seigel & Tina Payne Bryson.  This is always my top parenting book recommendation.  It is so helpful (and easy to read!) for understanding your child’s inner emotional life.
  • How to Talk so Kids will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk, AND Siblings without Rivalry both by Faber & Mazlich.  These two books are classics, for a good reason!
  • Your 1 Year Old, Your 2 Year Old, etc by Louise Ames & Frances Ilg.  This is a series, each book focusing on a particular year of life, and offering great basic child development information about what to expect from kids that age.  So much of the angst parents experience can be relieved by knowing that their child’s latest worrisome or obnoxious behavior is developmentally normal.  Highly recommend these books.  (they are really short, too!)
  • Toilet Training The Brazelton Way by T Berry Brazelton & Joshua Sparrow.  Children don’t generally react well to being pushed to toilet train when they aren’t yet ready.  This book gives parents a clear, simple, child-centered guide to an area of parenting that can be really difficult.
  • The first 43 pages of “Parenting the Defiant Child” by Alan Kazdin.  (not pictured.)  This book gives a great basic overview of some behavioral myths and facts.  I don’t love the rest of the book but the first 43 pages should be handed out at hospitals in order to dispel some of the unhelpful, inaccurate ideas out there about shaping behavior.
  • From Diapers to Dating by Deborah Haffney.  Great information about childhood sexual development for parents.  Might as well get yourself educated from the beginning!
  • What’s the Big Secret by Laura Krasney Brown  This book is for kids, and it does a great book explaining bodies & reproduction.  It’s written for the youngest kids–once your child isn’t ripping pages & eating paper when they ‘read,’ they are ready for this book.
  • When I Feel Angry (or When I Feel Sad, or When I am Missing You) by Cornelia Maude Spellman.  These are also titles for kids.  The author is a therapist, and each book does a great job of explaining emotions to kids, and giving them basic support for how to manage them.  Highly recommended!
  • Child of Mine: Feeding with Love and Good Sense by Ellen Satter.  Child of Mine is the go-to book for advice on feeding kids in a nutritionally & psychologically healthy way.
  • Protecting the Gift: Keeping Children and Teenagers Safe (and Parents Sane) by Gavin DeBecker.  (not pictured.)  It’s not a pleasant read, but for any parent who has concerns/fears about child safety (from human predators, specifically) this book is the evidence-based guide for how to recognize and listen to your intuition and teach your children to do the same.  It also has the helpful “Test of 12” for measuring whether your child is ready to be left alone.

Note: the book links are affiliate links, which means that if you click & buy, I get a tiny little percentage of the purchase price, at no additional cost to you.  So, if you do, thanks!