Best (Non-Clinical) Parenting Books

by | Life, Parenting

One of the first books I ever fell in love with as a child was Roald Dahl’s Matilda. While is true that parenthood doesn’t come with a manual, this book read like a “How-To” guide for not screwing up your kids. I realize that the book itself was likely not meant to be a parenting book, but for an 8 year old with a clear sense of right and wrong, I knew that Matilda’s parents were “doing it wrong”. Below is a list of books for anyone who has ever wondered if they’re “doing it right”. (Spoiler alert: you’re doing amazing!)

If you’re wondering if you are normal…

Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year by Anne Lamott

I came across this book while doing overnight work with a newborn. As this was at a time before laptops, tablets and smartphones, my client graciously allowed me full access to her bookshelves.  Operating Instructions drew me in from the first chapter. Even as a 24 year old with no children of my own, I couldn’t put it down. Lamott’s story of becoming a single mother (by choice) is funny, honest and relatable, and will help you to remember that you are not the only one wondering if you’re doing this whole “motherhood” thing correctly.

If you’re wondering if your child is normal…

Honest Toddler: A Child’s Guide to Parenting by Bunmi Laditan

Bunmi Laditan’s Honest Toddler is a hilarious look at parenting with a surprising benefit. Written from the point of view of the “honest toddler”, this is a How-To guide for babies who are tired of quinoa muffins and bedtimes. As humorous as it is, Laditan’s book can also be used as reasurrence for all the toddler parents out there who find themselves googling “Is it normal for my toddler to lick doorknobs?” at 3 am on a Tuesday.

If you’re wondering why your kid only eats nuggets…

Bring Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting  by Pamela Druckerman

A book that sparked a national debate on parenting, Bringing Up Bebe examines why French preschoolers seemingly eat, sleep, and behave better than their American counterparts. Druckerman spent 3 years collecting research as an American journalist living with her baby in Paris. There is no lack of “food for thought” here, and the author offers many tips for American parents who long for the time to relax with their (hot) latte while their children play independently and don’t demand snacks every 45 seconds.  

If you’re wondering if you’re going to screw up your kid…

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir  by Jenny Lawson

Warning: Do not read this book next to a sleeping baby. Jenny Lawson’s work has been described as “hilariously inappropriate”- a fact I discovered while reading it aloud to my 7 month old before naptime (because that was the only way I was ever going to read a book other than Where’s Baby’s Belly Button?). Even though I was fairly sure the content was going right over my son’s head, I still felt the need to cover his ears a few times. If you can make it past the cringe-worthy parts, this book is definitely worth the reminder that there’s nothing wrong with being your own person- even if that person is a hot mess most days.

I hope you enjoy these books as much as I have. Happy parenting! And remember, you’re doing great!

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I’m a nurse, holistic work-life wellness coach, wife & mama of two young children.

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