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Updated June 2021
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Pros
Cons
Best of the Best
The Conscious Parent: Transforming Ourselves, Empowering our Children Shefali Tsabary, PhD
The Conscious Parent: Transforming Ourselves, Empowering our Children
Shefali Tsabary, PhD
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Psychology & Spiritual Approach
Bottom Line

For the mindful or wannabe-mindful parent, this is the most highly rated and recommended conscious parenting book.

Pros

Less about how to fix your kids or a “quick fix,” and more about a paradigm shift that radically changes readers’ perspective on how to parent. Focuses on parents facing own reactions and issues as the way to change the behavior of children. This has proved to be life-changing for some. Preface by the Dalai Lama and recommended by Oprah.

Cons

Wordy and may be off putting to readers who aren’t spiritually inclined.

Best Bang for the Buck
Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting Dr. Laura Markham
Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting
Dr. Laura Markham
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Science-based & Practical
Bottom Line

Highly rated as the “best” parenting book that absolutely transforms parents’ relationships with their difficult children.

Pros

Reviewers experience dramatic changes in their children’s misbehavior and tantrums after applying this book’s gentle and loving techniques. Based on studies and is science-based, and not just the author’s opinion. After applying this book's principles, reviewers report a peaceful, calm household virtually free of yelling.

Cons

Some of the author’s strategies failed for parents of very strong-willed children.

Parent Effectiveness Training: The Proven Program for Raising Responsible Children Dr. Thomas Gordon
Parent Effectiveness Training: The Proven Program for Raising Responsible Children
Dr. Thomas Gordon
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Proven Parenting Program
Bottom Line

A progressive parenting book that provides communication skills that actually work on children.

Pros

Get the “parent effectiveness training” (PET) course in a book with these strategies that work for kids of all ages. Learn a way to listen to your kids that’s radical and a “life saver” for parents of teenage kids. Strategies built on an underlying relationship of love and mutual respect. Great practice for general communication skills, applicable to everyone.

Cons

This book can sometimes feel a bit like an advertisement for a PET course.

The Parent’s Tao Te Ching: Ancient Advice for Modern Parents William Martin
The Parent’s Tao Te Ching: Ancient Advice for Modern Parents
William Martin
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Practical Philosophy
Bottom Line

A highly-rated reinterpretation of the ancient Tao Te Ching as applied to parenting for daily doses of calm and wisdom.

Pros

Loved by parents to keep themselves grounded during the tumult of child rearing. Good advice for parents who tend to “over parent.” Topics broken down into short, digestible excerpts, ideal for busy parents. Can be flipped through to random lessons to read and re-read. Gentle but deep. Some readers are emotionally moved by the writing and wisdom.

Cons

More inspirational than substantial – doesn't give any examples or specific guidance.

Parent Hacks: 134 Genius Shortcuts for Life with Kids Asma Dornfest
Parent Hacks: 134 Genius Shortcuts for Life with Kids
Asma Dornfest
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Funny Yet Useful
Bottom Line

An illustrated and often hilarious “real world” pro-tips that will save you time, money, and sanity.

Pros

A great gift for first-time parents that provides sensible, practical tips to make parenting easier. Easy to read with pictures, which is ideal for sleepy or harried parents. Clever and useful “hacks” cover pregnancy, newborns, and young children. Liked for its non-judgmental, guilt-free tone.

Cons

A little too cutesy for some reviewers who easily find these tips on the internet.

HOW WE TESTED

We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Buying guide for best parenting books

Being a parent can be thrilling, fulfilling, and sometimes frustrating. Some days, you might feel all three emotions within the same five minutes. You’re not alone. The right parenting book can provide profound insight and guidance when you need it most.

Parenting books explore parenting from various angles, from the old school to the new. They cover different philosophies and methods when it comes to communication, discipline, and even mindfulness. These books are written by psychologists, educators, and fellow parents.

More than anything, parenting books should be empowering and supportive. And just like parenting, it comes down to a matter of preference which book is right for you. It’s an understatement to say no two parenting books are like, especially in terms of format. Generally speaking, these books include a foreword followed by detailed chapters. Some contain exercises and Q & A sections. We assembled this buying guide on parenting books to help you land on the right one.

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Parenting books are often revised and re-released with new information. Confirm you have the latest edition, so you don’t miss out on any new chapters or sections.

How to choose a parenting book

By your needs

What do you actually need from a parenting book? Some parents need support for personal issues. Others are looking for ways to improve their relationship with their children. It’s fair to say that these books are often chosen because they provide a method of coping with parenting challenges. A book provides an opportunity for private reflection and connection through text, which many find comforting and encouraging.

By critical issues

It can be helpful, and even relieving, to read a parenting book that helps you realize you’re not alone in dealing with certain issues. These books typically explain how to parent during a specific phase or episode in a child’s life.

By age

Some books address parenting based on the child’s age. A book might cover the difficulties of parenting a toddler (think tantrums) or a teenager (think puberty), for example. The book may offer unique solutions for the age group.

Many books also explain how to transition or adapt parenting methods to your child’s age. This is especially important for parents establishing new boundaries during pivotal moments, such as when children begin using social media or when it’s time to talk about safe sex.

Popular themes of parenting books

Communication-driven parenting

No matter which parenting book you choose, communication is prioritized. There are also communication-driven books which address challenges like digital over-engagement, talking through trauma, and handling outbursts.

International parenting

In this type of book, you can explore how parents raise their children in different countries, picking up new approaches to discipline and understanding familial roles. A multicultural perspective also introduces you to social norms from around the world.

Parenting through mindfulness

If you’re interested in exploring how to parent children toward peaceful coexistence, consider books with mindfulness themes. They introduce ways to forge deep connections with your child through reflection, positive reinforcement, and earnest conversation.

Health-conscious parenting

Health-conscious parenting books typically focus on wellness and often include dietary approaches. These books show you how to reinforce positive relationships with food at home so kids can adopt healthy eating habits, which in turn help develop their physical and mental well-being.

Parenting through illness

There are also health-conscious parenting books that focus on parenting children with chronic illnesses. These books teach you how to accept that certain things are beyond your control or scope of understanding. They offer advice on how parents can cope while remaining strong, especially in hospital settings.

Special needs parenting

Books for parents of children with special needs often revolve around understanding a child’s behavioral and developmental issues. They provide insight on parenting methods that are more appropriate for a special needs child with an emphasis on effective communication.

Parenting through trauma

These books offer specialized approaches to parenting children who have experienced emotionally charged events, like the witnessing of a crime or the sudden loss of a parent. They can help you cope with the challenging role of a supporter, and they sometimes offer exercises in self-expression or stoicism.

Parenting book prices

Parenting books range in price from $1 to $35, so there’s definitely a text for every budget.

Inexpensive: Parenting books up to $10 include a variety of independently published e-books as well as new paperbacks and classic parenting texts.

Mid-range: For $10 to $20, you’ll find new releases from major publishing houses, namely from well-known experts in the parenting and psychology fields.

Expensive: Books priced between $20 to $35 include hardcover editions as well as some child development textbooks.

Tips

  • Pick a book from a new perspective. Visit parenting from a brand new perspective, namely one at the opposite end of the spectrum. You’ll learn why you don’t like a specific parenting method, which helps you better understand the ones you prefer.
  • Read different books for different kids. It’s common to read parenting books for each of your kids. With differences in age, personality, and communication skills, it’s valuable to explore multiple perspectives.
  • Discuss in family therapy. If you and your kids are in family therapy, speak with the therapist or psychologist about the book you’re reading. They may be able to offer valuable insight or clarification on the methods or modalities.
  • Consider keeping your reading private. Sometimes when you discuss parenting books with others, they offer unsolicited advice, which can cause drama. When you choose to discuss your book or the challenges you’re facing as a parent, make sure it’s with someone who knows your boundaries and respects your feelings.
  • There’s no miracle cure. While there are gems of parenting advice, there’s no miracle cure to be found in parenting books.

Other products we considered

If you’re a fan of hygge, you may want to pick up The Danish Way of Parenting. A wholesome and uplifting read, it explores how Danish parents raise happy children by instilling confidence in them. The book is practical and accessible and includes six essential principles to guide you. It’s a light, engaging read parents with children of all ages can enjoy.   

Modern problems require modern solutions, so consider picking up The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age. This insightful read promotes the importance of interpersonal connections in a world of social media. It educates parents on screen-free engagement with children and why it’s crucial to their social skill development. Long story short, it’ll help you learn to communicate with your kids in the middle of a digital revolution.

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If you and your partner intend to read the same parenting book, invest in two copies so you can read it at the same time.

FAQ

Q. Who’s writing parenting books, anyway?
A.
Psychologists and academics are often thought to be the main writers of parenting books, but they’re just the tip of the iceberg. Fellow parents, educators, medical doctors, philosophers, and spiritual leaders have also authored parenting books. There are even celebrities who have penned parenting books, such as Jessica Alba and Mayim Bialik.
 

Q. Will a parent with the baby on the way be insulted if I give them a parenting book?
A.
Err on the side of caution here. If you have to ask, you may want to find a more appropriate gift. Some people take parenting books in stride and welcome them as they would any other gift. Others may be offended or insulted. A possible exception is comedic anecdotal parenting books, in which the focus is on levity.
 

Q. I disagree with many suggestions from a parenting book I’m reading. Did I miss something?
A.
Not at all. It simply means it’s not the book for you. One good thing to come of this scenario: you realize your true feelings about some of the advice. Even if you don’t enjoy or agree with a parenting book, it still affords you an analytical or reflective experience. And sometimes, finding out what you don’t want to do as a parent is the most valuable take-away.
 

Q. Someone recommended a parenting book, but it’s decades old. Won’t it be too outdated for parenting in the 21st century?
A.
It depends on the book. Some classics, like What to Expect the First Year by Heidi Murkoff, remain popular. Some have dated or inappropriate advice that you might find worth a read anyway, as you may find yourself pondering or analyzing the evolution of parenting.

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