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10 Best Books for Thinking Parents


I geek out about books that help me understand my kids' brains and how I can facilitate learning, growth, and creativity. Since I read so many books, I thought you might like to know my very favorite books for parents. Are they parenting books? Maybe. I'd say they are books for thinking parents about kids. Read liberally. Ponder. Apply as needed.

(Conversely, I detest books that promote formulaic ways of parenting - my children aren't robots; they're individuals. Formulas aren't for me.)


1. Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs by Ellen Galinsky 

Here's a book that requires a highlighter and notepad - it's really exceptional. The seven essential skills, according to Galinsky, are 1. Focus and Self Control, 2. Perspective Taking, 3. Communicating, 4. Making Connections, 5. Critical Thinking, 6. Taking On Challenges, 7. Self-Directed, Engaged Learning. A must-read!

2. NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman
This book will change everything you think! The authors take the latest science and apply it to parenting in areas like motivation, praise, sibling relationships, sleep, and more. 

3. Smart Parenting for Smart Kids: Nurturing Your Child’s True Potential by Eileen Kennedy Moore, PhD Mark S Lowenthal, PsyD

This book is exceptionally helpful! It talks about tempering perfectionism and tells us parents to resist giving pointers to our kids (aka. shut up and listen, in my words.) I loved the chapters on temperament, sensitivity, cooperation, joy, and . . . heck, it's all good.

Read an exerpt on Goodreads

4. Playful Learning: Develop Your Child’s Sense of Joy and Wonder by Mariah Bruehl

Bruehl is a former teacher who makes play and learning accessible to parents at home with kids. I loved this book and highlighted at least half.

5. Einstein Never Used Flashcards: How Our Children Really Learn – and Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less by Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Ph.D. & Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, Ph.D.
Parents, before you put your child into preschool, READ THIS BOOK. The research overwhelmingly shows the difference in how play is essential for child development in math, reading, verbal communication, science, self-awareness and social skills. NOT academics. It's very compelling.

6. Brain Rules for Baby: How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child from Zero to Five by John Medina
The science of a child's growing brain is explained in layman's terms by the hilarious Medina. Check out his online videos, too - they're great.

7. No Regrets Parenting: Turning Long Days and Short Years into Cherished Moments with Your Kids by Harley Robart, M.D.
A quick read with gifts of wisdom for busy parents about being present in the life of our children. 

8. Different Learners: Identifying, Preventing, and Treating Your Child’s Learning Problems by Jane M. Healy, Ph.D.
An eye-opening book that synthesizes the latest brain research and helps us understand what learning issues are genetically based and which are triggered, or both. Not only that, this book explains how to nurture a child's brain versus trigger learning problems.  

9. Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids by Kim John Payne and Lisa M. Ross
I got a lot out of this book about reducing the amount of clutter, even reducing sensory overload. I loved how this book helped me with routine and ritual. It's fantastic! 

10. Fun On the Run by Cynthia L. Copeland
I keep this book with me - it's got lots of creative ideas for things to do anywhere - waiting at the doctor's office, restaurants, car rides, it's an essential.

2 Bonus Outside Play Books: 

Go Out and Play: Favorite Outdoor Games From Kaboom!

Fifteen Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House by Rebecca Cohen

More book recommendations on "Books for Your Nightstand"  and "More Books for Your Nightstand" on Imagination Soup


I'm wondering what books you've read on this list?

Also, what books are your favorites that aren't on this list?