15 Books that Inspire my Parenting

As a fun, year-end activity (at least for a book nerd like me), I’ve pulled some of my favorite books from the shelf and reflected on how they’ve inspired my parenting – and my life. Enjoy!

15 Books that Inspire my Parenting


The Blessing Of A Skinned Knee: Using Jewish Teachings to Raise Self-Reliant Children, Wendy Mogel, Ph.D
Like us, our kids aren’t going to be good at everything, so we can’t expect perfection. It’s important for them to experience mistakes and failures while they’re young.


The Connected Child: Bring hope and healing to your adoptive family, Nancy Purvis, Ph.D.
Although this book is written specifically for adoptive parents, there are many helpful insights about why we need to emotionally connect with our kids before we can correct misbehavior.


5: Where Will You Be Five Years from Today?, Dan Zadra
In a simple workbook format with many inspirational quotes, Five guides us to focus on our goals, priorities, and mission in life.


Flourish, Martin Seligman
Flourish introduced me to Positive Psychology and the science behind what makes us thrive.

Free-Range Kids

Free-Range Kids: Giving our Children the Freedom we had without Going Nuts with Worry, Lenore Skenazy
Skenazy encourages us to see how our culture has made us unnecessarily fearful in our parenting and why our worrying is not beneficial for our kids’ growth and development.

how children succeed

How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiousity, and the Hidden Power of Character, Paul Tough
Thanks to Tough’s book, I have a list next to my kids’ desk of the character traits they need: Grit, Self-Control, Zest, Social Intelligence, Gratitude, Optimism, Curiosity. I liked this book so much that I wrote a review.

how to talk

How to Talk so Kids will Listen and Listen so Kids will Talk, Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish
Long before Carol Dweck explained the importance of growth mindset praise, Faber and Mazlish (in this classic 1980s parenting book) gave great insights on communicating with kids.


Last Child in the Woods
A compelling read about why we need to get our kids back outdoors.


The Myths of Happiness, Sonja Lyubomirsky
Much of what is commonly believed to make us happy really doesn’t. Lyubomirsky has done the research and explains why. She also shares the data behind what really does makes us happy.


Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell
“Working really hard is what successful people do.” Enough said.

raising happiness

Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents, Christine Carter, Ph.D.
So much wisdom in this book, including, “Put on your own oxygen mask first.” Don’t feel guilty for taking care of yourself, because happy parents have happy kids!

The Read-Aloud Handbook

The Read Aloud Handbook
Reading with our kids from infancy and throughout their childhood is one of the best things we can do with and for them.

teach your children well

Teach Your Children Well: Why Values and Coping Skills matter more than Grades, Trophies, or “Fat Envelopes,” Madeline Levine, PhD.
Doesn’t the subtitle alone make you want to read this book? Levine focuses on the values and character that are really important to instill in our kids and how our culture is upside down and crazy.

too much of a good thing

Too Much of a Good Thing: Raising Children of Character in an Age of Indulgence, Dan Kindlon, Ph.D.
In the mid-90s, before Levine’s best-selling Price of Privilege (also a great book) came out with a similar message, Kindlon wrote about how “American children often lack the strong character that is essential for well-being because they are not getting enough TLC-time, limits, and caring.”

whole brain child

The Whole-Brain Child: Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture your Child’s Developing Mind, Daniel Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson
There’s so much good take-away information in this book. One nugget that stood out to me is why you can’t reason with an upset child. Their brain won’t take anything in at that point.

Well, there you have it. When I started this post, I was going to select 10 books, but then I couldn’t narrow it down. I may have to do a “next 15 books” post, because I still have a considerable stack of runners-up, including a few I’m reading now. Stay tuned.

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