Best Parenting Books from The Cuddly Owl Community

A few days ago I ran an instagram poll and asked a few questions about books. You all had some FANTASTIC advice on books you liked, books you didn't like, and you had a LONG list of books you wanted to read. A few of you reached out and asked if you could get the list of recommendations people sent me, and I thought this would be the start of a list to help make sure what little time you have to read is spent reading the books that you have the best chance of identifying with!

I will update these list as more recommendations come in, so please feel free to message me on social media @thecuddlyowl or email me at if you have anything you'd like to add to the list or strong feelings about books already on here! I'm also working on putting together some VERY short book reviews (1-2 sentences) of each books below that I have read, so stay tuned for an update!

The lists are in order by number of people that sent the book in. Not the most scientific of rankings, but it's a start! I did list the to-read books in alphabetical order because the list is so long. It seems many of us have some intense parenting reading to-read lists!

Woman holding book and coffee mug

Best Parenting Books for School-Aged Kids

  • Playing to Win by Michael Lewis
  • Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck

Best Parenting Books for Pregnancy and Young Kids

  • Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom is Wrong - and What You Really Need to Know by Emily Oster
  • What to Expect When You're Expecting by Heidi Murkoff, Arlene Eisenberg, and Sandee Hathaway
  • Cribsheet: A Data-Driven Guide to Better, More Relaxed Parenting, from Birth to Preschool by Emily Oster
  • What's Going On in There? How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life by Lise Eliot
  • What to Expect The First Year by Heidi Murkoff, Sharon Mazel, Arlene Eisenberg, Sandee Hathaway, & Mark D. Widome
  • The First-Time Parent's Guide to Potty Training: How to Ditch Diapers Fast (and for Good!) by Jazmine McCoy

Best Parenting Books for Those That Want How-To's, Ideas and To-Do Lists

  • The Montessori Toddler: A Parent's Guide to Raising a Curious and Responsible Human Being by Simone Davies
  • Thrivers: The Surprising Reasons Why Some Kids Struggle and Others Shine by Michele Borba
  • What to Expect The First Year by Heidi Murkoff, Sharon Mazel, Arlene Eisenberg, Sandee Hathaway, & Mark D. Widome
  • The First-Time Parent's Guide to Potty Training: How to Ditch Diapers Fast (and for Good!) by Jazmine McCoy

Best Books for Challenging Parenting Assumptions

  • Playful Parenting by Lawrence J. Cohen
  • NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson & Ashley Merryman
  • Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck

Best Books for Sports Parents

  • Playing to Win by Michael Lewis

Books Some of us Didn't Like

Yes, this list does include some books that are also in the "best of" lists. That's because books, like parenting, are controversial!

  • Thrivers: The Surprising Reasons Why Some Kids Struggle and Others Shine. Reason: Some  think it relies heavily on generational stereotypes. Everyone liked her suggested reading for kids listed throughout the book.
  • The Sh!t No One Tells You: A Guide to Surviving Your Baby's First Year. Reason: Some didn't like the vaccine chapter, others didn't think it was funny. A quote from a Cuddly Owl follower on instagram "I was hoping for a humorous "guide" to parenthood. I'll keep searching for truly funny parenting books."
  • Playful Parenting. Reason: Everyone that read this book (myself included) liked the premise, however every person that's read it pointed out that it got repetitive and you just wanted a list of ideas by the end and that list never materialized. 

Books You Want to Read

  • Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents by Lindsay C. Gibson
  • Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brene Brown
  • Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity by Andrew Solomon
  • How to Stop Losing Your Sh*t With Your Kids: A Practical Guide to Becoming a Calmer, Happier Parent by Carla Naumburg
  • Hunt, Gather, Parent: What Ancient Cultures Can Teach Us About the Lost Art of Raising Happy, Helpful Little Humans by Michaeleen Doucleff
  • Mercury's Child by Warwick Dyer
  • No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame by Janet Lansbury
  • Parenting with Love and Logic by Foster W. Cline & Jim Fay
  • Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings: How to Stop the Fighting and Raise Friends for Life by Laura Markham
  • Rage Against the Minivan: Learning to Parent Without Perfection by Kristen Howerton
  • Raising Good Humans: A Mindful Guide to Breaking the Cycle of Reactive Parenting and Raising Kind, Confident Kids by Hunter Clarke-Fields
  • Raising Worry Free Girls: Helping Your Daughter Feel Braver, Stronger, and Smarter in an Anxious World by Sissy Goff
  • Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guide for Parents Whose Child is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, and Energetic by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka
  • Rest, Play, Grow: Making Sense of Preschoolers (Or Anyone Who Acts LIke One) by Deborah MacNamara
  • Siblings Without Rivalry: How to Help Your Children Live Together So You Can Live Too by Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish
  • Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids by Kim John Payne & Lisa M. Ross
  • The Blessings of a Skinned Knee: Using Jewish Teachings to Raise Self-Reliant Children by Wendy Mogel
  • The Body Keeps Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk
  • The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read by Philippa Perry
  • The Connected Parent: Real-Life Strategies for Building Trust and Attachment by Karyn Purvis & Lisa Qualls
  • The Conscious Parent: Transforming Ourselves, Empowering Our Children by Shefali Tsabary
  • The Drama of the Gifted Child: The Search for the True Self by Alice Miller
  • The Explosive Child: A New Approach to Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children by Ross W. Greene
  • The Family Firm: A Data-Driven Guide to Better Decision Making in the Early School Years by Emily Oster
  • The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed by Jessica Lahey
  • The Gifts of Imperfect Parenting: Raising Children with Courage, Compassion, and Connection by Brene Brown
  • The Highly Sensitive Child: Helping Our Children Thrive When the World Overwhelms Them by Elaine N. Aron
  • The Out of Sync Child by Carol Stock Kranowitz
  • The Whole Brain Child by Daniel J. Siegel
  • The Yes Brain: How to Cultivate Courage, Curiosity, and Resilience in Your Child by Daniel J. Siegel & Tina Payne Bryson
  • To Light Their Way: A Collection of Prayers and Liturgies for Parents by Kayla Craig
  • Toxic Parents: Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life by Susan Forward, Craig Buck, Nguyen Thi Thanh Hang
  • Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason by Alfie Kohn

Young child reading during sunset

Photos by Alexandra Fuller and Aaron Burden