Top Parenting Book Reviews

Read parenting books reviews of our top picks. These descriptions combine our thoughts with those of Amazon reviewers as well as other parenting experts:


Your One-Year-Old: The Fun-Loving, Fussy 12-To 24-Month-Old, Your Two-Year-Old: Terrible or TenderYour Three-Year-Old: Friend or Enemy,  etc. through Your Ten- to Fourteen-Year-Old
by Louise Bates Ames, Frances Ilg and Carol Chase Haber

Your One Year Old by Ames, Ilg and BakerThis series of books are classics in the field of child development published by the internationally renowned Gesell Institute. Each book gives a crystal clear and specific image of what a child is like at each age and stage of development, so much so that it can feel to parents that the authors actually had a bird’s-eye view into their living rooms!

The authors discuss all the important questions and concerns that parents have. For each age group, they describe behavior and general characteristics, examine what new things the child can now do, address stresses and fears, and give details about what the child is thinking and feeling. With an appreciation of the delights that each age brings as well as acknowledgment of the challenges of each age, the authors use stories from real life to illustrate practical techniques that parents can use to manage difficult behavior that is developmentally driven.

Reading these books is enlightening for all parents who want to understand their children better in order to do the best job they can in raising them and in encouraging their development. After reading any in this series, parents will feel less alone and reassured that their children’s challenging behaviors are normal, even if difficult to deal with. Readers will be guided through the fascinating and sometimes trying experiences of parenthood and will accumulate many tips to make their parenting journey less stressful and more gratifying.

<return to top of page

Yes, Your Teen is Crazy!: Loving Your Kid Without Losing Your Mind
by Michael Bradley

Yes Your Teen is Crazy by Michael BradleyMichael Bradley offers a powerful, frank, down-to-earth description of life with teens. He goes straight to the heart-and-soul of adolescent development and needs, offering a sensible approach which is full of wisdom and wit. Often funny, sometimes heart-wrenching, Dr. Bradley “tells it like it is.”

Through the lens of recent research on teen brain development, Dr. Bradley gives parents the skills, information and confidence to make wise decisions that will help their children manage the turmoil of adolescent life. Parents will learn how they can keep their relationship with their teen on track through the ups and downs of the exhausting, sometimes terrifying, and exhilarating ride of adolescence.

Bradley helps parents to understand and deal with the big issues facing teens in today’s society (sex, drugs, peer influences, use of technology), as well as typical adolescent development and behavior. Speaking with respect for both teens and their parents, Bradley appreciates the wonderful aspects of this stage of life as well as the challenges: he paints a vivid picture of teen creativity, passion, courage and experimentation on the one hand and of teen confusion, poor judgment and rebellion on the other.

Offering clear guidelines for parents puzzled by adolescent inconsistencies, Bradley speaks with compassion toward parents as he acknowledges their need to grieve the loss of their former sweet compliant child. He also holds up a mirror for parents to realize how their behavior affects who their teen is and how he behaves.

This book is insightful, entertaining, and at times poignant as it takes us on a tour of the world of the teen and his parents. It is an invaluable guide for parents whose children are in the throes of adolescence.

<return to top of page

Raising Resilient Children: Fostering Strength, Hope, and Optimism in Your Child
by Robert Brooks and Sam Goldstein

Raising Resilient ChildrenAs a parent, you may have noticed that some children are able to face set-backs with courage and optimism, while other children seem to be defeated by the challenges they face. Although at first glance, there is no rhyme or reason to explain these opposite reactions, Brooks and Goldstein make sense of it all. Their must-read book tells parents the importance of teaching their children how to bounce back from the big and little adversities in life, by offering a thought-provoking approach to raising children who can cope, survive, and thrive in today’s fast-paced, hard-driving society. The book focuses not on children’s problems but on how to foster their inner sense of fortitude, empathy, and grit to deal successfully with the obstacles and demands they encounter – in a word, resilience.

Throughout the book, the authors focus on the mindset parents need to foster this quality in their children and how each of these guideposts leads to an “I can do this/I can overcome this” attitude in children:

  • Being empathic
  • Communicating effectively
  • Changing negative perspectives
  • Loving children in ways that help them to feel special
  • Accepting children for how they are and helping them set realistic expectations
  • Identifying and reinforcing “islands of competency”
  • Helping children recognize that mistakes are opportunities to learn
  • Developing responsibility, compassion and a social conscience by providing opportunities for children to contribute
  • Teaching children to solve problems and make decisions
  • Disciplining in a way that promotes self-discipline and self-worth

In a warm, straight-forward, and easily understood way, the authors draw a clear picture of the path for parents to follow in order to foster psychological strength, hope and optimism in their children. Using specific examples, they describe a caring method to help their children grow into healthy, happy, loving, and mature adults.

<return to top of page

How Much Is Enough?: Everything You Need to Know to Steer Clear of Overindulgence and Raise Likeable, Responsible and Respectful Children
by Jean Illsley Clarke

How Much is Enough? By Jean Illsley ClarkeMost parents have the same goal—to do the best possible for their child. But despite your good intentions, the abundance so often heaped on your children today often becomes more than they need or can handle, and the line is crossed into overindulgence, which has become a national concern.

In How Much is Enough?, parenting expert Jean Illsley Clarke offers an in-depth look at how damaging overindulgence is to children, affecting their ability to learn many of the important life skills they need to thrive as adults. In warm and empathetic language, the author describes the three different ways children are overindulged (giving too much to them materially, doing for children what they can and should do for themselves, and not holding children accountable for their behaviors.)

You will learn to recognize how your own parenting approach may be preventing your children from becoming responsible, self-sufficient adults who feel gratitude for what they have. The many realistic examples, smart advice and effective strategies will provide you with a vision of how you can adjust your parenting style to promote your children’s success in life. Clarke addresses:

  • The many reasons why parents might overindulge their children
  • How to teach your child what the concept of “enough” means
  • Tips on establishing firm rules
  • How to instill responsibility and independence in your kids

This book is a must-read for all parents who are trying to nurture and care for their children while not over-doing it through overindulgence.

<return to top of page

Kids Are Worth It!: Giving Your Child The Gift of Inner Discipline
by Barbara Coloroso

Kids Are Worth It by Barbara ColorosoIf you ever question whether you are too strict with your children or too lenient, this bestselling book offers guidance about how to find a healthy balance between these two extremes on the discipline continuum. By painting colorful and detailed pictures of the jellyfish parent (too lenient), the brick wall parent (too strict) and the backbone parent (in the healthy middle area), Coloroso makes it easy for you to identify your own discipline style.

With warmth, humor and optimism, she encourages readers to examine the effects within their family of how limits are set for children. Her approach comes alive through dozens of examples — from sibling rivalry to teenage rebellion and from common misbehaviors to substance abuse and antisocial behavior. She also explains how to parent strong-willed children, provides effective alternatives to time-outs, bribes, and threats, and instructs how to help kids resolve disputes and address serious injustices such as bullying.

Kids are Worth It offers a practical blueprint for making adjustments that will allow your children to develop their own self-discipline by owning up to their mistakes, thinking through solutions, and correcting their misdeeds – all while leaving their dignity intact. Coloroso helps you help your children grow into responsible, resilient, resourceful adults — not because you tell them to, but because they want to.

<return to top of page

Without Spanking or Spoiling: A Practical Approach to Toddler and Preschool Guidance
by Elizabeth Crary

Without Spanking or Spoiling by Elizabeth CraryParents often feel trapped into choosing between two extremes when dealing with their young children’s unacceptable behavior – spanking or spoiling. In this classic book, you will learn skills that avoid either of these while you guide your children to behave in ways that will decrease tension and frustration in your home. You will also teach your children skills that they can use throughout their lives to cope with difficulties they will encounter.

This book combines invaluable information about handling toddlers and preschoolers with a workbook format (including exercises and summary sheets) so that parents can reflect on how they could use the suggestions in their own homes. With an understanding of temperament, child development and parents’ own personal values, Crary offers over 150 tips to deal with the most common misbehaviors posed by young children. Her suggestions provide parents with ways to set limits that are firm and fair and offer alternatives to spanking.

Crary addresses many ways to avoid problems in the first place and how to use a problem solving approach if difficulties do arise. Using examples from everyday life, she gives many specific and clear methods to increase behavior you want to see more of and decrease behavior that you would like to eliminate in your children. With these added skills in your parenting “tool belt,” you will find pleasure and pride in how you handle the typical challenges of raising young children.

<return to top of page


Liberated Parents, Liberated Children: Your Guide to a Happier Family
by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

Liberated Parents, Liberated ChildrenIn this indispensable book, the authors, internationally acclaimed parenting experts, offer warm and nurturing support to all parents who are facing the daunting job of raising children who will become respectful, confident and responsible adults. With great kindness and a deep understanding of the challenges involved, Faber and Mazlish address the most basic issues that arise in child-rearing. It is very comforting to readers as they identify with the parents in the support group Faber and Mazlish follow in the book.

With wisdom, humor, and practical advice, this book illustrates the kind of communication that builds self-esteem, inspires confidence, encourages responsibility, and makes a major contribution to the stability of today’s family. The anecdotes, stories and examples of the participants will ring true for anyone who has ever taken seriously the job of bringing up children. From how to deal with feelings, to the struggle to let children become independent, to healthy communication skills, to dealing with anger, they tell it like it is with compassion, conviction and sensitivity. They encourage parents to let go of guilt and the thought that they need to be perfect in order to raise well-adjusted children. Being practical, wise and kind, Faber and Mazlish insist on the importance of parents taking care of their own needs so that they have the energy and focus to care for their children.

<return to top of page


The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children
by Ross Greene

The Explosive Child by Ross GreeneWhat is an explosive child? A child who responds to routine problems with extreme frustration – crying, screaming, swearing, kicking, hitting, biting, spitting, destroying property, and worse. A child whose frequent, severe outbursts leave his or her parents feeling frustrated, overwhelmed, scared, worried, and desperate for help. Most of these parents have tried everything – reasoning, explaining, punishing, sticker charts, therapy, medication – but all to no avail. They can′t figure out why their child acts the way he or she does; they wonder why the strategies that work for other kids don′t work for theirs; and they don′t know what to do instead.

Dr. Ross Greene, a distinguished clinician and pioneer in the treatment of kids with social, emotional, and behavioral challenges, has worked with thousands of explosive children, and he has good news: these kids aren′t attention-seeking, manipulative, or unmotivated, and their parents aren′t passive, permissive pushovers. Rather, explosive kids are lacking some crucial skills in the domains of flexibility/adaptability, frustration tolerance, and problem solving, and they require a different approach to parenting.

Throughout this compassionate, insightful, and practical book, Dr. Greene provides a new conceptual framework for understanding these explosive children’s difficulties, based on research in the neurosciences. He explains why traditional parenting and treatment often don′t work, and he describes what to do instead of relying on rewarding and punishing. Dr. Greene promotes working with explosive children to solve the problems that precipitate explosive episodes, and teaching these kids the skills they lack. Parents will gain confidence and optimism as they find ways to handle their children’s difficulties competently and with compassion.

The perspective and skills taught in The Explosive Child are crucial for all parents to learn. This book is recommended for any parent who has ever wondered how to handle their children’s anger, no matter how mild or intense.

<return to top of page


Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles
by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka

Mary Sheedy Kurcinka Kids Parents and Power StrugglesNoted family educator Mary Sheedy Kurcinka hits upon a crucial parenting topic in her book, Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles: understanding how to discipline your children when they exhibit challenging behavior. Kurcinka offers unique approaches to solving the daily, and often draining, power struggles that often occur between parents and children. She views these conflicts as rich opportunities to teach your children essential life skills, like how to deal with strong emotions and how to problem solve. With her strategies, you’ll be able to identify the triggers that set off these struggles and get to the root of the emotions and needs of you and your children. You will also learn ways to maintain a strong connection as you teach your children how to handle their anger, frustration, or jealousy in constructive ways. Kurcinka also will help you recognize the role that temperament, both your own and your children’s, play in family life – and that continued success depends on respecting your differences.

<return to top of page

Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guide for Parents Whose Child Is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, and Energetic
by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka

Raising your Spirited Child by Mary Sheedy Kurchinka“Spirited” children possess traits which we often value in adults and which can help them to be successful later in life, but which are quite challenging to their parents while they are growing up. In this award-winning classic book, Mary Kurcinka offers a guide for raising children who are often considered “difficult” and “strong-willed.” These kids are wired to be “more” – more intense, sensitive, perceptive, persistent, and uncomfortable with change than most children.

With a thorough description of the ten innate temperament traits that all people possess, Kurcinka helps parents to:

  • Understand their children’s and their own temperament traits
  • Re-frame their negative perceptions of their children to positive ones which acknowledge the strengths of their spirited children
  • Develop win-win strategies for handling tantrums, power struggles and all temperamentally-driven difficult behavior.

This is an important book for anyone who has struggled to find the positives in their challenging child’s behavior. Kurcinka offers a loving, optimistic approach which helps parents manage their children’s temperament and help their kids to eventually understand and manage their own temperament.

<return to top of page


The Price of Privilege
by Madeline Levine

The Price of Prvilege by Madeline Levine In recent years, numerous studies have shown that bright, charming, seemingly confident, and socially skilled teenagers from affluent, loving families are experiencing epidemic rates of depression, substance abuse, and anxiety disorders. Materialism, pressure to achieve, perfectionism, and disconnection are combining to create a perfect storm that is devastating middle and upper middle class children and their parents alike.  With empathy and candor, Madeline Levine identifies toxic cultural influences and well-intentioned, but misguided, parenting practices that are detrimental to a child’s healthy self-development. Her thoughtful, practical advice provides solutions that will enable parents to help their emotionally troubled “star” child cultivate an authentic sense of self. By addressing the best ways to connect to your children; by suggesting the parenting style that is most likely to result in raising children who are resilient and grateful; and by outlining the discipline techniques that promote responsibility, Levine guides her readers to a parenting approach that will teach children to manage their emotions and impulses, form healthy relationships, and become useful, well-adjusted, and moral people.

<return to top of page


The Blessing Of A Skinned Knee
by Wendy Mogel

The Blessing of a SKinned Knee by Wendy MogelIn a world where material abundance abounds, parents want so badly to raise self-disciplined, appreciative, and resourceful children who are not spoiled by the plentitude around them. But how to accomplish this feat? The answer has eluded mothers and fathers who overprotect, overindulge, and overschedule their children’s lives, even with the best of intentions.  In Blessings of a Skinned Knee, Dr. Mogel helps parents learn how to turn their children’s worst traits into their greatest attributes. Starting with stories of everyday parenting problems and examining them through the lens of important Jewish teachings, The Blessing of a Skinned Knee shows parents how to:

  • teach children to honor their parents and to respect others,
  • escape the danger of overvaluing children’s need for self-expression which can result in kids acting like “little attorneys,”
  • accept that their children are both ordinary and unique,
  • treasure the power of the present moment.

Mogel makes these teachings relevant for any era and any household of any faith. A unique parenting book, The Blessing of a Skinned Knee is both inspiring and effective in the day-to-day challenge of raising self-reliant, compassionate, ethical children.

<return to top of page


The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind
by Daniel Siegel

The Whole-Brain Child by Dan SiegelIn this pioneering and fascinating book, Daniel J. Siegel, neuropsychiatrist offers a revolutionary approach to child rearing with twelve key strategies that foster healthy brain development, leading to calmer, happier children. The author includes much easy-to-understand information about how a child’s brain is wired and how it matures in a way that makes it useful to put into daily practice with children.

This tender book is filled with fresh ideas based on the latest neuroscience research which indicates how malleable a child’s brain is, and how parents can use knowledge of healthy brain functioning and development to raise children who are better able to manage the ups-and-downs of life and emotions. Complete with age-appropriate strategies for dealing with day-to-day struggles and illustrations that will help you explain these concepts to your child, The Whole-Brain Child shows you how to cultivate healthy emotional and intellectual development.

By applying these discoveries to everyday parenting, you can turn any outburst, argument, or fear into a chance to integrate your child’s brain and foster vital growth. Parents spend a lot of time trying to reason with a child in the throes of great upset. Instead, strategy # 1 suggests that parents “Connect and Redirect.” It guides parents to attune to and accept their children’s emotions first (connect) so they feel heard. Only once they have calmed down can children access the higher level functioning part of the brain where reasoning resides. At that point, parents can encourage the use of logic and planning (re-direct.)

With knowledge about how the brain develops and functions and with these skills in your parenting toolbelt, you will be able to help your children manage their emotions and develop skills that will allow them to thrive and to have rewarding interpersonal relationships. You will be able to transform everyday stressful interactions into brain-shaping moments!

<return to top of page
<return to full list of Recommended Books