06 Sep 15 Books That Elevated Our Parenting
“There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world.
Love of books is the best of all.”
– Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
What was the most profound book you ever read?
How has it changed your life?
We are incredibly lucky to live in a time when we can learn just about anything we want, simply by opening a book (or for that matter, a browser).
We have limitless information at our fingertips. And sometimes it can be hard to find the real gems in the midst of so many choices.
The truth is, every book ever written has the potential to change our lives for the better.
We just need to find the ones that speak to our souls.
This month, as we commit to expanding our potential as extraordinary parents, the Lifebook Team would like to share a list of books that have changed our lives and families in truly significant ways.
This list serves as a beautiful guide from conception to pregnancy, birthing and beyond (and is presented in the order we recommend reading).
These are books that have elevated our parenting, and permanently transformed our relationships with the little people we love most.
We hope you enjoy.
(And please do share your favorite parenting books with us in the comments!)
1. Taking Charge of Your Fertility: The Definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control, Pregnancy Achievement, and Reproductive Health
Celebrating 10 years of helping hundreds of thousands of women achieve pregnancy, avoid pregnancy naturally, and gain better control of their health and lives.
For any woman unhappy with her current method of birth control; demoralized by her quest to have a baby; or experiencing confusing symptoms in her cycle, this book provides answers to all these questions, plus amazing insights into a woman’s body. Weschler thoroughly explains the empowering Fertility Awareness Method, which only requires a couple minutes a day.
2. Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth
What you need to know to have the best birth experience for you. Drawing upon her thirty-plus years of experience, Ina May Gaskin, the nation’s leading midwife, shares the benefits and joys of natural childbirth by showing women how to trust in the ancient wisdom of their bodies for a healthy and fulfilling birthing experience. Based on the female-centered Midwifery Model of Care, Ina May’s Guide to Natural Childbirth gives expectant mothers comprehensive information on everything from the all-important mind-body connection to how to give birth without technological intervention.
3. Magical Beginnings, Enchanted Lives: A Holistic Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth
Magical Beginnings, Enchanted Lives is rich in practical information, including strategies to help enliven the body intelligence of unborn babies by nourishing each of their five senses, as well as through Ayurvedically balanced nutrition and eating with awareness. Specific yoga poses and meditation techniques reduce the mother’s stress and improve the infant’s emotional environment, as do tips for conscious communication with a partner. Exercises prepare parents for the experience of childbirth itself, followed by natural approaches to dealing with the first weeks of parenting, from healing herbs to enhancing your milk supply to coping with postpartum depression.
Inspiring, expansive, and remarkably informative, this unique book from acclaimed experts in mind-body medicine will profoundly enhance the experience of pregnancy and birth for both parents and baby.
4. Spiritual Midwifery
Over 540,000 copies sold – the original Spiritual Midwifery, published in 1976, introduced an entire generation of young women to the possibility of home birth and breast feeding. It also breathed new life into the all-but-vanished field of midwifery. This classic book on home birth is now in its fourth edition, with updated information on the safety of natural childbirth, new birthing stories, and the most recent statistics on births managed by The Farm Midwives. Ina May also provides new information about potentially dangerous techniques routinely used in hospitals during and after birth, as well as the latest findings about VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean). Improved instructions for handling breech births are also given. Included are stories of working with Amish women, showing a different culture with a similar appreciation for natural childbirth.
5. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding
Dedicated to supporting nursing and expectant mothers, the internationally respected La Leche League has set the standard for educating and empowering mothers in this natural art for generations.
Now their classic bestselling guide has been retooled, refocused, and updated for today’s mothers and lifestyles. Working mothers, stay-at-home moms, single moms, and mothers of multiples will all benefit from the book’s range of nursing advice, stories, and information—from preparing for breastfeeding during pregnancy to feeding cues, from nursing positions to expressing and storing breast milk.
6. Beyond the Sling: A Real-Life Guide to Raising Confident, Loving Children the Attachment Parenting Way
A real-world guide to Attachment Parenting from the Big Bang Theory actress, neuroscientist, and mother Mayim Bialik—a book hailed by Dr. William Sears as “delightful” and by Ricki Lake as “a fantastic guide to birth and parenting that is packed with invaluable wisdom.”
To Mayim, Attachment Parenting’s natural, child-led approach not only felt right emotionally, it made sense intellectually and instinctually. She found that when she followed her intuition and relaxed into her role as a mother instead of following some rigid parenting script, both she and her children thrived. Taking into account her experience as a mother (and her scientific background), Mayim presents the major tenets of Attachment Parenting.
7. Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting
The bestselling author of Wherever You Go, There You Are (more than 1,000,000 total copies in print) and Full Catastrophe Living joins forces with his wife, Myla, in this groundbreaking revised edition of the classic book about mindfulness in parenting children of all ages. Updated with new material–including an all new introduction and expanded practices in the epilogue–Everyday Blessings remains one of the few books on parenting that embraces the emotional, intuitive, and deeply personal experience of being a parent, applying the groundbreaking “mind/body connection” expertise from global mindfulness leader, Jon Kabat-Zinn and his wife, Myla Kabat-Zinn.
With the growing interest in mindfulness as a way of living, and with increasing scientific evidence of its value for optimal health and well-being, including a new field in psychology devoted to mindful parenting, and with mindfulness being increasingly integrated into K-12 education, there has never been a better time for cultivating greater mindfulness in parenting and in family life.
8. Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids
Today’s busier, faster society is waging an undeclared war on childhood. With too much stuff, too many choices, and too little time, children can become anxious, have trouble with friends and school, or even be diagnosed with behavioral problems. Now internationally renowned family consultant Kim John Payne helps parents reclaim for their children the space and freedom that all kids need for their attention to deepen and their individuality to flourish. Simplicity Parenting offers inspiration, ideas, and a blueprint for change:
- Streamline your home environment. Reduce the amount of toys, books, and clutter—as well as the lights, sounds, and general sensory overload.
- Establish rhythms and rituals. Discover ways to ease daily tensions, create battle-free mealtimes and bedtimes, and tell if your child is overwhelmed.
- Schedule a break in the schedule. Establish intervals of calm and connection in your child’s daily torrent of constant doing.
- Scale back on media and parental involvement. Manage your children’s “screen time” to limit the endless deluge of information and stimulation.
9. Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature Deficit Disorder
“I like to play indoors better ’cause that’s where all the electrical outlets are,” reports a fourth-grader. Never before in history have children been so plugged in-and so out of touch with the natural world. In this groundbreaking new work, child advocacy expert Richard Louv directly links the lack of nature in the lives of today’s wired generation-he calls it nature deficit-to some of the most disturbing childhood trends, such as rises in obesity, Attention Deficit Disorder (Add), and depression.
Some startling facts: By the 1990s the radius around the home where children were allowed to roam on their own had shrunk to a ninth of what it had been in 1970. Today, average eight-year olds are better able to identify cartoon characters than native species, such as beetles and oak trees, in their own community. The rate at which doctors prescribe antidepressants to children has doubled in the last five years, and recent studies show that too much computer use spells trouble for the developing mind.
Nature-deficit disorder is not a medical condition; it is a description of the human costs of alienation from nature. This alienation damages children and shapes adults, families, and communities. There are solutions, though, and they’re right in our own backyards. Last child in the Woods is the first book to bring together cutting-edge research showing that direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development-physical, emotional, and spiritual. What’s more, nature is a potent therapy for depression, obesity, and ADD. Environment-based education dramatically improves standardized test scores and grade point averages and develops skills in problem solving, critical thinking, and decision making. Even creativity is stimulated by childhood experiences in nature.
10. Parenting with Love and Logic: Teaching Children Responsibility
This parenting book shows you how to raise self-confident, motivated children who are ready for the real world. Learn how to parent effectively while teaching your children responsibility and growing their character.
Establish healthy control through easy-to-implement steps without anger, threats, nagging, or power struggles.
11. Raising Boys: Why Boys Are Different–and How to Help Them Become Happy and Well-Balanced Men
From award-winning psychologist Steve Biddulph comes an expanded and updated edition of RAISING BOYS, his international best seller published in 14 countries. His complete guide for parents, educators, and relatives includes chapters on testosterone, sports, and how boys’ and girls’ brains differ. With gentle humor and proven wisdom, RAISING BOYS focuses on boys’ unique developmental needs to help them be happy and healthy at every stage of life.
12. Raising Girls: Helping Your Daughter to Grow Up Wise, Warm and Strong
Steve Biddulph’s Raising Girls is both a guidebook and a call-to-arms for parents. The five key stages of girlhood are laid out so that you know exactly what matters at which age, and how to build strength and connectedness into your daughter from infancy onwards.
Raising Girls is both fierce and tender in its mission to help girls more at every age. It’s a book for parents who love their daughters deeply, whether they are newborns, teenagers, young women – or anywhere in between. Feeling secure, becoming an explorer, getting along with others, finding her soul, and becoming a woman – at last, there is a clear map of girls’ minds that accepts no limitations, narrow roles or selling-out of your daughter’s potential or uniqueness. All the hazards are signposted – bullying, eating disorders, body image and depression, social media harms and helps – as are concrete and simple measures for both mums and dads to help prevent their daughters from becoming victims.
Parenthood is restored to an exciting journey, not one worry after another, as it’s so often portrayed. Steve talks to the world’s leading voices on girls’ needs and makes their ideas clear and simple, adding his own humour and experience through stories that you will never forget. Even the illustrations, by Kimio Kubo, provide unique and moving glimpses into the inner lives of girls. Raising Girls is powerful, practical and positive. Your heart, head and hands will be strengthened by its message.
13. Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life
Our children spend their days being passively instructed, and made to sit still and take tests—often against their will. We call this imprisonment schooling, yet wonder why kids become bored and misbehave. Even outside of school children today seldom play and explore without adult supervision, and are afforded few opportunities to control their own lives. The result: anxious, unfocused children who see schooling—and life—as a series of hoops to struggle through.
In Free to Learn, developmental psychologist Peter Gray argues that our children, if free to pursue their own interests through play, will not only learn all they need to know, but will do so with energy and passion. Children come into this world burning to learn, equipped with the curiosity, playfulness, and sociability to direct their own education. Yet we have squelched such instincts in a school model originally developed to indoctrinate, not to promote intellectual growth.
A brave, counterintuitive proposal for freeing our children from the shackles of the curiosity-killing institution we call school, Free to Learn suggests that it’s time to stop asking what’s wrong with our children, and start asking what’s wrong with the system. It shows how we can act—both as parents and as members of society—to improve children’s lives and promote their happiness and learning.
14. Free-Range Kids: How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry)
FREE RANGE KIDS has become a national movement, sparked by the incredible response to Lenore Skenazy’s piece about allowing her 9-year-old ride the subway alone in NYC. Parent groups argued about it, bloggers, blogged, spouses became uncivil with each other, and the media jumped all over it. A lot of parents today, Skenazy says, see no difference between letting their kids walk to school and letting them walk through a firing range. Any risk is seen as too much risk. But if you try to prevent every possible danger or difficult in your child’s everyday life, that child never gets a chance to grow up. We parents have to realize that the greatest risk of all just might be trying to raise a child who never encounters choice or independence.
15. How to Talk so Kids Will Listen, and Listen So Kids Will Talk
The ultimate “parenting bible” (The Boston Globe) with a new foreword—and available as an ebook for the first time—a timeless, beloved book on how to effectively communicate with your child from the #1 New York Times bestselling authors.
Internationally acclaimed experts on communication between parents and children, Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish “are doing for parenting today what Dr. Spock did for our generation” (Parent Magazine). Now, this bestselling classic includes fresh insights and suggestions as well as the author’s time-tested methods to solve common problems and build foundations for lasting relationships, including innovative ways to:
- Cope with your child’s negative feelings, such as frustration, anger, and disappointment
- Express your strong feelings without being hurtful
- Engage your child’s willing cooperation
- Set firm limits and maintain goodwill
- Use alternatives to punishment that promote self-discipline
- Understand the difference between helpful and unhelpful praise
- Resolve family conflicts peacefully
Enthusiastically praised by parents and professionals around the world, the down-to-earth, respectful approach of Faber and Mazlish makes relationships with children of all ages less stressful and more rewarding.