Book Roundup: Popular Parenting Books from the PAMP General Forum

Photo by Rosanna Jackson

Parenting is tough—so tough that many of us (myself included) look to parenting books for guidance. The evidence? Two hot discussion threads seeking suggestions for parenting books on the PAMP General Forums. These threads generated numerous recommendations. Below are details on 11 of the most popular books according to your fellow members.

Books for Parents of Babies and Toddlers

Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp, M.D.

Harvey Karp is an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of California-Los Angeles School of Medicine. In his book, Happiest Baby on the Block, he engages both modern science and ancient wisdom to support the premise that newborns are not quite ready for the world when they are born. He introduces five simple steps (the 5 S’s) to soothe crying babies (even colicky ones) and trigger the calming reflex.


Disease-Proof Your Child: Feeding Your Kids Right by Joel Fuhrman, M.D.

Joel Fuhrman is one of the leading experts on nutrition and natural healing. In Disease-Proof Your Child, he uses scientific evidence to show how the recent epidemic of adult cancers, autoimmune diseases and diabetes is connected to our diets during the first quarter of our lives. He maintains that healthy eating habits impact resistance to infections and reduce chronic conditions such as allergies and asthma. The book also contains easy, kid-friendly recipes to get started building healthy eating habits.


New First Three Years of Life by Burton L. White

Burton L. White offers a practical month-by-month guide to mental, physical, social and emotional development for the first three years of life. He gives advice on a variety of topics including creating a stimulating environment for babies, age-appropriate discipline, sleep problems, toys, social development and even toilet training.


Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth, M.D.

Perhaps the most popular of all the parenting books summarized here, with over 1,500 reviews on and a rating of four out of five stars, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child details how to solve and prevent sleep problems. Author Marc Weissbluth is a leading pediatric sleep researcher and professor of clinical pediatrics at the Northwestern University School of Medicine. His step-by-step guide is based on research of children’s natural sleep cycles, and it arms parents with a solid understanding of their child’s sleep patterns and methods to induce lifelong, healthy sleep habits.


Secrets of the Baby Whisperer Series by Tracy Hogg and Melinda Blau

This series of three books focuses on the baby and toddler years. In the first two books, parents will gain an understanding of their babies’ temperaments and baby language so they can better meet their babies’ needs. They’ll also learn how to set a daily routine that works for both baby and parent and how to customize parenting strategies to work with a child’s distinct personality and developmental stage. Finally, parents will learn methods to troubleshoot everyday problems and detect when the best times are for teaching babies. The toddler book deals with communication, growth and independence, routines and rituals, discipline, and preparing for changes.

Books for Parents of Toddlers and Older Children

1-2-3 Magic by Thomas W. Phelan Ph.D.

1-2-3 Magic, in its fourth edition, offers insights into discipline for children ages 2 to 12 that will enable parents to manage difficult situations without drama. The author, Thomas W. Phelan, is a clinical psychologist and renowned expert on child discipline as well as attention deficit disorder. He shares a three-step process for helping parents manage bad behavior, insights into the types of testing and manipulations children use on parents and more. Practical applications for his strategies include homework arguments, mealtime battles and chore reluctance.


NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman

This book, originally released in September 2009, stayed on The New York Times best-seller list for three months. Based on real data, NurtureShock suggests that modern society’s strategies are ineffective because they are driven by incorrect assumptions about childhood development. Eye-opening topics include the paradoxical effect of praise, the critical nature of sleep, the reasons teenagers lie, and why racial diversity in schools is backfiring.


How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

First published 30 years ago, this popular book was republished this past February. Described as a communications toolkit, How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk offers strategies and ideas for keeping lines of communications open and making communication respectful by using logical tools such as sensitivity, empathy and humor.


Free-Range Kids, How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry) by Lenore Skenazy

Author Lenore Skenazy raised the ire of parents everywhere in 2008 when she allowed her 9-year-old son to ride the New York City subway alone. However, using facts, statistics and humorous anecdotes, syndicated columnist and NPR commentator Skenazy shows that the dangers we fear don’t warrant the overabundance of safety precautions that many parents take. She argues that the real danger is children who never have the chance to grow up, make their own choices and become independent.


Screamfree Parenting: The Revolutionary Approach to Raising Your Kids by Keeping Your Cool by Hal Edward Runkel 

Based on the idea that the only person you control is yourself, Screamfree Parenting’s main principle is that parenting is not about kids—it’s about parents. The enemy is not television or the Internet but rather a parent’s own emotional reactions to stressful situations. By staying calm and connected with our children, we act less on our worst fears and more on our principles. Author Hal Edward Runkel offers strategies for overcoming these emotions and enabling a pattern of connection and cooperation.


Setting Limits with Your Strong-Willed Child: Eliminating Conflict by Establishing Clear, Firm, and Respectful Boundarieby Robert J. MacKenzie Ed.D.

Setting Limits with Your Strong-Willed Child addresses discipline issues associated with nine temperamental traits including persistence, distractibility, sensitivity, adaptability and reactivity. Educational psychologist and marriage, family and child therapist Robert J. MacKenzie offers techniques and procedures such as using clear messaging and respectful limit setting to effectively motivate a strong-willed child and avoid daily power struggles.






Margaret Greanias ( is an aspiring author. She has two young children and lives in Los Altos.



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