Best Parenting Books 2023 – Forbes Vetted

Best Parenting Books 2023 – Forbes Vetted

Many of us step into the job of parent with little to no training. Couple this with the fact that once you become a parent, you have even less free time to devote to learning new things. Of course, this is where the best parenting books can help. Download some to your Kindle, as an audio book for the car or keep one in your bag to pull out when you’re waiting on the pediatrician. One of our favorites is The Whole-Brain Child, a book that aims to help you understand how your child’s brain works, but we’ve also included books for toddler parents, teen parents and those raising neurodiverse kids, too.

The best parenting books can help with every age and stage, from navigating life with a newborn to figuring out how to talk to a teenager. “High-quality, evidence-based parenting books can help parents have developmentally appropriate expectations and can help them feel armed with what to expect and how to respond based on a combination of what feels right to them and what is aligned with their child’s development,” explains Dr. Aliza W. Pressman, a developmental psychologist, cofounder of the Mount Sinai Parenting Center and host of the Raising Good Humans podcast.

Once you’ve chosen a parenting book to read, remember that there’s not just one right way to parent, just like no two individuals, children included, are alike. “Whether you are looking for science, support or wisdom, there are many approaches and no science says there is one right way,” says Pressman. So use parenting books as a tool, but try not to let them stress you out. After perusing this list of the best parenting books, you might want to snuggle up in the glider, reading chairs or a bean bag chair for solo reading or story time with the kids and one of the best baby books.


The Whole-Brain Child

After reading this book, I felt like I had a better understanding of how my kids’ brains work, which helped me be a better parent. Although it’s very evidence-based, it’s written in an approachable way that makes it easy to apply to your life. For example, you’ll learn not just why kids have tantrums, but how you can effectively respond during a tantrum. The authors also provide a dozen strategies to help parents relate to their kids in developmentally appropriate ways. 


Although this series was first published in 1983, it was authored by the late psychologist Louise Bates Ames, a pioneer in child development and cofounder of the Gesell Institute of Child Development. It does a nice job of laying out some of the fundamentals of children’s behavior and development, serving as a guidebook for parents. There are 10 books in the series, each dedicated to a child’s age—your 2-Year-Old, your 3-Year-Old and so on up to the final book, which is dedicated to 10 to 14-year-olds and their development. For each age, the book covers common issues kids face, and it provides ways to connect with your kids.


Founded on the principle that we are all good inside, this book teaches parents how to connect with their kids. You’ll learn how to navigate tricky yet common situations while Dr. Becky, as she’s known, assumes the voice of a supportive friend, a friend that has years of experience as a clinical psychologist. The author has a popular podcast, an Instagram following of more than a million and her book shot to the No. 1 position of New York Times bestsellers list when it was released in September 2022. Her approach offers parents suggestions and even the actual language to use when talking kids through their daily challenges and frustrations, everything from getting their shoes on in the morning to bedtime routines.


Parenting a child with explosive behaviors can be really frustrating, and it’s hard to watch your child struggle and not know how to help them. This book helps parents understand the difficulties their child is going through, whether they’re prone to swearing, kicking, biting or something else. You’ll learn how to use collaborative problem solving to work with your child and to understand them better.


The Happiest Baby On The Block

This was one of the first parenting books I read, and one of the biggest takeaways was the concept of the “fourth trimester.” It helped me understand that for the first three months of their lives, babies would prefer to still be in the womb. This is why those three months can be full of crying, fussiness and a desire to be held all the time. “I would have been lost without The Happiest Baby On The Block with my first child,” adds Rose Gordon Sala, the Forbes Vetted baby and kids editor. In addition to educating parents on the fourth trimester, the book also teaches strategies for calming even the fussiest of newborns. 


What To Expect The First Year

Is my baby’s poop supposed to look like that? How much spit-up is too much? Why does my baby’s skin look like a teenager in the throes of puberty? Rather than googling all of these questions that come up during the first year, you can turn to this book that has stood the test of time (but that has also been updated to reflect best practices). What to Expect the First Year serves as a comprehensive guide to all things baby. Again, it’s a classic for a reason. Sala says it was particularly useful to her when worried about baby’s milestones and gaining a baseline for schedules. “It was nice to have a solid source to turn to in the middle of the night instead of peppering my pediatrician with off-hour questions, too,” she says.


Oh Crap! Potty Training

Potty training can be one of the most difficult parts of being a toddler parent. With some help from this book, the process might go a little smoother. Glowacki’s wisdom helped me potty train my firstborn around 2 years old, and the methods in this book have worked for many other parents as well. It’s recommended over and over again in many parenting groups. The book is sprinkled with humor, and it provides a straightforward six-step approach to potty train your toddler.


The Montessori Toddler

I referenced this book often when my firstborn was a toddler, because I wanted to foster independence in her. It provides many straightforward and easily applicable tips to make your home a place where toddlers can thrive. It also sets out to help parents understand why toddlers behave the way they do and how we can lean into where they are developmentally rather than fight it.


How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk

Getting kids to open up and talk to you can be a large feat, and as they get older and more independent, it becomes increasingly important (and simultaneously hard to do). This book offers tips on how to make your kids feel seen and heard as well as how to set firm and loving boundaries. If your kids aren’t quite school age yet, you might also be interested in How To Talk So Little Kids Will Listen.


Siblings Without Rivalry

If you have more than one kid, you’ve probably already experienced sibling rivalry as personalities clash and kids compete for your attention. This book walks you through how to help your kids through conflict as well as how to be fair, even if things aren’t always equal. It’s a great tool to reference if you’re trying to raise kids to have strong bonds with each other well into adulthood.


Editor’s Pick

The transition from girl to woman isn’t always easy, and it doesn’t always go smoothly. This book aims to help parents understand and connect with their teenage daughters. It answers questions that often come up for parents of teens, which is reminiscent of the baby books you probably referenced in the newborn days, but it does so with real-life examples from the teens and families who have met with author Lisa Damour, a psychologist who specializes in teen girls and their development. “When my tween suddenly started pulling away, this book helped me to understand it was normal,” Sala adds. “I also appreciated getting glimpses into these teens’ modern lives, so I could better understand and appreciate the world my daughter was entering.”


Fourteen Talks by Age Fourteen

I don’t have teenagers (yet), but I hear that one of the most difficult parts of parenting teenagers is getting them to talk to you. This book teaches parents how to broach sensitive subjects such as sexuality and hygiene. It also provides valuable information about when, where and how to talk to your tweens and teens, an age group that is often less than eager to sit down with parents for any type of chat.


Raising Good Humans

We all want to raise good humans, but in the hustle and bustle of daily life, it’s hard. It’s tempting to yell at your kids when you’re running late or to react unkindly when they trigger your own strong emotions. In this book, you’ll learn how to control your own responses so you can be more kind and patient with your kids. This, in turn, shows them how to be kind and patient so they can become good humans.


Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids

If you’re trying to break the cycle of yelling, threatening and bribing, this book is for you. Like many gentle parenting methods, it first teaches parents how to understand and be in control of their own emotions. Once you can do this, it becomes much easier to parent your children compassionately. The book provides examples of how to approach common situations and provides language to use that is effective for kids.


Educational expert and founder of EBL Coaching, Dr. Emily Levy, who also has a masters degree in special education and a doctorate degree in education, recommends this book for parents of children with autism. “It includes cutting edge research, diagnosis information and important interventions for individuals with autism,” she says. From finding an accurate diagnosis to coping strategies to treatments, this book will meet you where you’re at whether your child has not yet been diagnosed with autism or they have had a diagnosis for years.


Commonly hailed as one of the most important books for parents of children with autism to read, The Reason I Jump is written by a 13-year-old boy with autism. In the memoir, you’ll be able to learn more about how an autistic brain works by seeing the world through the author’s eyes. If you’ve been struggling to understand your child, this book might give you the insight you’ve been lacking.


Rather than trying to fix what many people see as problems and negative symptoms that can accompany autism, this book aims to see autism in a new light. It will help you build upon your child’s strengths and understand why they behave the way they do. This book might let parents see and accept their child for who they are while simultaneously teaching new ways to support them and improve their quality of life. 


Educator Levy calls this book an absolute must. It features cutting-edge research and provides you with tools to support your child with a dyslexia diagnosis, which can often come as a surprise to parents. You’ll find information on how raise your child’s self-esteem, the latest programs designed to strengthen their reading skills and choose schools that are tailored to their needs.


As a former high school English teacher, I’ve taken part in many Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings, and even as a teacher, the lingo and the protocols were often foreign and confusing to me. I could only imagine how it must feel for parents to navigate the special education system for their children. This book will help you advocate for your child by teaching you about how the special education system works.


Helping Your Child With Language-Based Learning Disabilities

From auditory processing disorder to dysgraphia, this book will teach you about strategies you can use to help your child with a language-based learning disability thrive. “Parents learn how to collaborate with teachers, guide their child through homework and improve their overall relationship with their child who has specialized learning needs,” says Levy. It’s rooted in an evidence-based theory that a strong attachment with your child can help their learning. 


According to Levy, this is a “fantastic book for explaining to parents what executive functioning skills are (skills that relate to planning, organization and time management) and strategies for helping their child develop these skills, which are crucial for success in school.” Like many other books on this list, it will help you realize your child’s strengths as you make small changes to guide them toward improving their organizational and executive functioning skills, from completing homework to just remembering it exists.


This book is full of case studies: real stories of the millions of people who have attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), including children and adults. Recommended by Levy, Driven To Distraction explains ADHD characteristics—the good and the bad—and provides you with tools to help your child face challenges brought on by it. It also gives you a glimpse at different ways ADHD can manifest in children, from daydreaming to constant motion.


How We Chose The Best Parenting Books

As a parenting writer with two degrees in education, I’ve read many of the books on this list and have interviewed many of the authors over the years. Most of the books I haven’t read are in my queue. I also spoke to parents of kids of all ages, including our parenting editor, a mom to three children ages 4-10, about their favorite parenting books and consulted lists of bestselling parenting books. I spoke to three experts as well: Dr. Aliza W. Pressman, cofounder the Mount Sinai Parenting Center and psychologist; educational expert Dr. Emily Levy; and author Dr. Lisa Damour.

When selecting books, I considered the authors’ credentials, particularly if they possessed a child development background. I also selected a variety of books that approach parenting from different angles and actively attempted to put together a list that represent different approaches and address different needs and ages or stages of childhood.

This article is frequently reviewed for accuracy and was most recently updated in April 2023.


What Books Should I Read For Parenting?

The best parenting books are the ones that align with your values and provide useful advice. “No book can offer advice that will work for everyone, and parents know their kids best. The most helpful way to approach a parenting book is to take from it what feels useful and to feel free to leave the rest,” says Damour.

“The strongest parenting books tend to be written by individuals with expert training in child development, such as psychologists or pediatricians,” Damour adds.

Similarly, Pressman advises parents to find voices that connect with their values and that provide information that can help ease the worries of parenting. A good parenting book is a perfect mix of your values as a parent and the issues you’re currently facing with your children.

What Are The Four Types Of Parenting Styles?

The four main parenting styles are authoritarian, authoritative, permissive and uninvolved. Additionally, there are many informally named parenting styles, including gentle parenting, positive parenting, helicopter parenting, lawnmower parenting and tiger parenting.

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