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The 13 Best Parenting Books That Help You Raise Smart, Successful Kids

Last updated on February 4, 2022
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For parents who are looking for guidance in raising their children, the parenting book section of Amazon or your local bookstore is typically a good place to start.

The problem: How do you know which ones are reputable, worth your time and money, and (the most important part) provide usable, tangible insight or lessons to glean?

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Well, we did a little digging to provide you a list of some of the best parenting books—some new bestsellers by our favorite current parenting experts, some older that have stood the test of time, but all will help guide you on your parenting journey. 

The Conscious Parent

This book by clinical psychologist Shefali Tsabary, Ph.D., explains and explores how parents (often unknowingly) pass on their own mental and emotional traits or hangups. This book helps parents understand their own emotional barriers so they can better encourage their kids' personal growth in the process. As the saying goes: To help others, first you must help yourself. 

Conscious Parent: Transforming Ourselves, Empowering Our Children by Shefali Tsabary, Ph.D. 

The conscious parent

The Gift of Failure

Modern parenting is perhaps most defined by overprotection and attention. Some call it snowplow parenting or helicopter parenting, but it's the idea that you can save your kid from hardship and strife if you just put in enough effort. Teacher and writer Jessica Lahey argues against this in her tome dedicated to the many benefits of not always getting it right. 

The Gift of Failure by Jessica Lahey

The Gift Of Failure

How To Raise an Adult

Another book dedicated to avoiding the trappings of over-parenting; in this book student dean Julie Lythcott-Haims leans into the research, as well as conversations with admissions officers, educators, and employers, on why parenting less actually makes you better. 

How To Raise an Adult by Julie Lythcott-Haims

How to raise an adult

The Montessori Toddler

Based on the style of Montessori, a teaching system from expert educator Maria Montessori, this helps parents raise kids in a self-paced, experiential environment. The best part is it sets up concrete, step-by-step ways to cultivate daily routines (like getting dressed or brushing teeth) with ease.

The Montessori Toddler: A Parent's Guide to Raising a Curious and Responsible Human Being by Simone Davies 

The montessori toddler

The Wonder Weeks

A classic parenting book from two psychologists based on the research that shows when babies are particularly "fussy," it means they are actually going through intense developmental stages. The book offers a guide to help understand these stages.

The Wonder Weeks by Frans X. Plooij, Ph.D., and Hetty van de Rijt-Plooi, Ph.D.

The wonder weeks

100 Things Every Black Girl Should Know

A collection of advice written for women "10 to 100," this lighthearted yet deeply impactful book can help not only your daughter—but mothers too. Read it alongside your kids, have conversations, and deepen your relationships with them.

Things Every Black Girl Should Know by Taura Stinson

things every black girl should know

Raising Good Humans

Mindfulness, we know, is a concept we take seriously around here. Mindfulness can help you stay in the moment and think through your emotions and decisions so you're better able to work with your child—rather than reacting.  

Raising Good Humans: A Mindful Guide to Breaking the Cycle of Reactive Parenting and Raising Kind, Confident Kids by Hunter Clarke-Fields, MSAE

raising good humans

Cribsheet: A Data-Driven Guide to Better, More Relaxed Parenting, From Birth to Preschool

Emily Oster, Ph.D., an economist at Brown University, guides parents through tough decisions by providing the stats and facts. Her research-backed guidance can help weigh questions like career paths, sleep training, and more. Refreshingly clarifying. 

Cribsheet: A Data-Driven Guide to Better, More Relaxed Parenting, From Birth to Preschool by Emily Oster, Ph.D.


Mother to Son: Letters to a Black Boy on Identity and Hope

In this series of letters addressed to her young son, author and writer Jasmine L. Holmes shares her experiences as a Black woman in America, offers advice, and gives relatable, honest lessons in parenting and growing up. 

Mother to Son: Letters to a Black Boy on Identity and Hope by Jasmine L. Holmes

mother to son

The Bottom Line for Baby

An easy-to-read, deeply practical guide to many first-time parents' questions (or even not first-timers), like bottle material, diaper cloth material, car seats, bath time, you name it. Each issue is further broken down into pros, cons, and the final conclusion. 

The Bottom Line for Baby by Tina Payne Bryson

the bottom line for baby

How To Raise Successful People

Esther Wojcicki is a famed high school educator in Silicon Valley known for encouraging the minds of many (who would become) highly prominent individuals. Her own daughters are CEOs and top academics. Here, she outlines her independent-minded approach to child development.

How To Raise Successful People by Esther Wojcicki

how to raise successful people

Unequal Childhoods

In order to understand parenting, it's vital to understand intersectional parenting. This book explores the ways in which economic class and race affect our upbringings. If available, we recommend the second edition, in which a decade later she revisits the families involved in the original.

Unequal Childhoods by Annette Lareau

unequal childhoods

How To Build Your Baby's Brain

A thorough deep dive into how early interactions and sensations—touch, smell, and so on—literally rewire your baby's brain. She gives you the tools to help it form and develop in its best possible way. 

How To Build Your Baby's Brain by Gail Gross, Ph.D., EdD, MEd

how to build your baby's brain
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Alexandra Engler
Alexandra Engler
mbg Beauty Director

Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she's held beauty roles at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and In her current role, she covers all the latest trends in the clean and natural beauty space, as well as lifestyle topics, such as travel. She received her journalism degree from Marquette University, graduating first in the department. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.