5 Parenting Books Actually Worth Reading

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Are Parenting Books Worth Reading?

It’s no secret that I love reading parenting books or books specifically on intentional and positive parenting. When I first became a mom, I felt really insecure about my knowledge about children. I had this thought that if I read all the parenting books, maybe I would then be on my way to being a better mom.

Oh, naivete is such a sweet blessing!

Of course, we all know that parents are made through trial and error, the late nights, scrapped knees, and sibling squabbles. We become parents through our mistakes and it is definitely on the job training.

So Why Recommend Parenting Books?

There are a few parenting books I have read that have been absolutely life-changing to the way I approach mothering my children. These books may not be so life-changing for you, but I think they are definitely worth checking out, whether that’s at your local library, on your Kindle, or buying a copy.

Each of these books introduced me to new ways of thinking about parenting that seemed revolutionary at the time. Now, these books are the foundation of my parenting strategy. I even re-read these books often for new inspiration and to remind myself of the parent I strive to be.

My 5 Favorite Parenting Books Worth Reading

Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne

Simplicity Parenting has been one of the biggest game changers for me! I found that typical parenting books give a lot of specific strategy that isn’t actually realistic in real life. Sure, that example of how you communicate with your kid sounds really great in a book, but doesn’t actually work in real life. You with me on this?

What I love about Simplicity Parenting is that it is not formulaic. Instead, Kim John Payne offers a gentle approach to simplifying your whole home (but especially the kids’ spaces), cutting back on busy schedules, creating thoughtful rituals and rhythms, and protecting childhood so that your kids can enjoy being kids for much longer.

If you’ve ever felt like you’re drowning in kid clutter, if any of your children ever seem anxious or overwhelmed, if you’re searching for a thoughtful and gentle approach to creating an intentional family home—this book is it.

Heaven on Earth: a Handbook for Parents of Young Children by Sharifa Oppenheimer

Heaven on Earth: a Handbook for Parents of Young Children is one of those books that you want to leave on your nightstand and reference often; it’s that good. I began by checking it out from the library and was beyond upset when they decommissioned it from their collection. I finally bought it to add to my own collection and even now it’s with us in the travel trailer (and let’s just say, very few books made it in here!)

What I LOVE about it is the thoughtful and beautiful way Sharifa Oppenheimer communicates about childhood. She shares about the development of the young child and then offers intentional strategies for gently supporting their growth. As a Waldorf teacher, she definitely focuses on a simple childhood filled with plenty of outdoor play, imaginative games, and comforting rituals and rhythms within the home.

Whenever I need a boost to my parenting morale, I read Heaven on Earth. It’s such an encouraging, affirming read that I always walk away from it feeling inspired to parent better.


Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishment to Love and Reason by Alfie Kohn

Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishment to Love and Reason is one of those books that completely blew my mind and fundamentally changed the way I parented. As you can guess from the title, this book is radical in its approach. Alfie Kohn offers compelling research as to why we shouldn’t use behaviorism (rewards and punishment) to raise our kids.

This book inspired my husband, Kirk, and I to completely uplevel our parenting approach. We had a child that was not responding to any of the “normal” discipline strategies that all of the typical parenting books recommend. She literally broke the mold, and we needed a lifeline. Enter this book and it’s revolutionary parenting ideas. We gave them a try and you know what? It actually worked.

We haven’t looked back.

I will warn you though. This book will challenge you in ways that you may not expect. There are no scripted guides of what to say to your children, no detailed recommendations of discipline. What it does offer is a complete head and heart change to the receptive parent, ultimately leading to a transformed home.

Unconditional Parenting is definitely a keeper.


Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting by Dr. Laura Markham

Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids is one of those books that is like shining a big mirror on your parenting approach. To be totally honest, I used to be a yeller. Not like Old Yeller, the dog, but someone who resorted to yelling at her kids as an attempt to control their behavior. Let’s just say it worked maybe 0.5% of the time.

It was the only approach I knew though, until I read this book. So much of Dr. Laura Markham’s strategies work because they are built on connecting with your kids before disciplining. She is also big on owning your own emotional baggage and dealing with your problems so that they don’t negatively impact your kiddos.

If you find that you’re needed a few more tools in your parenting toolkit, this is a fantastic place to start. She also has another book called Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings and is so worth a read if you struggle with sibling drama.



Montessori from the Start: the Child at Home, from Birth to Three by Paula Polk Lillard and Lynn Lillard Jessen

Montessori from the Start is a book I stumbled upon with my oldest was just a few weeks ago. I was trying to figure out how to create the peaceful home environment I envisioned raising my kids in and someone recommended this book. It’s a bit unique in that the authors connect infant and child development to their environment.

They also make specific recommendations for how to create a Montessori inspired bedroom for the child and how to incorporate the educational philosophy into the early years. If you’re not familiar with using Montessori at home, this blog post is a great place to start. In general, Montessori is big on encouraging the independence of the child, valuing their contributions, and (similar to Waldorf) protecting childhood.

Montessori from the Start is definitely a specific approach to parenting and home that may not appeal to everyone. What I loved about it though was that its guidelines fit well into the home I was already creating. It was comforting to know that the methods I was naturally drawn to were part of a whole educational approach!

You will love this book if you crave simplicity, value independence in your children, and aren’t afraid of unconventional approaches to raising little ones.

The Best Parenting Manual Though….

Books can be a wonderful resource, but don’t be afraid to listen to your gut. After all, you know your kids better than anyone else!

I hope you enjoyed this short guide to my 5 favorite parenting books. Any I forgot that you would recommend to others? Share in the comments below!