To Read or Not to Read (Parenting Books)…


January 23, 2012 by Melissa

I’m a big reader-I devour books on most any topic, so when I became a parent, I realized there’s a ton of “expert” guides to raising kids. It’s ridiculous actually. Pro and con opinion books on everything from sleeping to eating, from playing to discipline. These parenting guides can be so good but so often are actually quite bad-making one feel bad for not doing things how they say they should be done. And who are these “experts” anyway?

How was I supposed to wade through these highly polluted waters? Well, first I asked friends of mine who had similar parenting philosophies and styles for their recommendations. Then I asked my pediatrician.  Then I read reviews of some books on Amazon. I now have my own list of recommended titles when others ask me for a starting point and once you have a few to start with, those authors’ bibliographies and back of book blurbs lead you to others. With that said I still approach any parenting book with a cynical eye-the authors don’t know my family, I do, so I need to take in what I feel could work with my kids and not worry about the rest. Here’s my favorite list:

Anything by Dr. Sears-he’s got a lovely non-judgmental style that covers all topics. While some of his philosophies can be a little out there, he’s aware that each family is its own and not everything works for every family or for every child.

NurtureShock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman will upend your ideas of modern parenting and education-will blow you away.

Happiest Baby on the Block and Happiest Toddler on the Block by Harvey Karp-the soothing methods in the baby book saved us in the early weeks of Lucy’s life so this man has my undying affection.

Playful Parenting by Lawrence Cohen-a bit out there some of the time but it’s good to remember how important play is to kids and how important it is for you to play with your kids

Bad Mom by Ayelet Waldman-this author once wrote a magazine piece about how she loves her husband more than her kids and was vilified by media and moms everywhere.  I love that she had the guts to speak her mind and not apologize for it.  She has four great kids and this book is all about how we don’t do each other any favors by judging instead of having honest conversations.

Finally, The Mother’s Guide to the Meaning of Life by Amy Krouse Rosenthal-a very thoughtful, funny, humble look at motherhood from one of my favorite authors (both adult and childrens’ books).  This is a great gift for any new mom.  Even has a chapter with this quote from Bette Davis as a lead-in: “If you have never been hated by your child, you have never been a parent.”

What do you recommend?

One thought on “To Read or Not to Read (Parenting Books)…

  1. Gina says:

    Thanks Melissa – I have some of these books collecting dust that need to get read (Playful Parenting) and others that I also love. I think “Happiest Baby on the Block” should just be handed to you when you leave the hospital with your newborn. And I haven’t read or heard of some of the others you recommended so I’ll have some more reading to do.

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