Must Read Parenting Books In 2024

Anyone who knows me knows that I love taking an evidence-based approach to just about anything–parenting being one of them. I have a stack of books on my bedside table, many of which fit into the genre of ‘Parenting Books.’ I read them for guidance both as a mom and as a therapist supporting parents.

Ironically, I don’t believe that parenting books are really necessary. We don’t raise our kids based on what we read. We raise them based on gut instinct.

And reading too many parenting books can get in the way of gut instinct.

Plus, there’s an awful lot of noise out there – ever noticed how the parenting advice industry explodes every so often with a new buzz word (remember when grit was what every parent needed to teach their child?).

It can be easy to jump from approach to approach and lose sight of what’s real.

Case in point: Remember when sleep training was the big thing? Personally, I remember feeling confused–first I’d hear how harmful it was to let a baby ‘cry it out’ and next I’d hear how essential sleep training was. The truth was somewhere in the middle but there was an ideological war going on in the parenting world that impacted how I felt about my ability to parent.

How do we separate fad from worthy information?

How do we know if a book is worth our precious time and attention?

This question led me to reflect about which parenting books I truly recommend for parents. Particularly parents raising tweens and teens. And so, here’s my list (not in any particular order or ranking) of five parenting books worth reading in 2024:

1. Decoding Boys

Published in 2020 and written by Cara Natterson, a board certified pediatrician who has written several other parenting books, Decoding Boys helps parents of adolescent boys understand the physiological, emotional, and social needs of boys as they experience puberty. While there are lots of books out there about girls and puberty this is not the case for boys and puberty. A key chapter is Chapter 6, where Natterson addresses the impact of pornography on adolescent male development.

2. My Grandmother’s Hands

This is not a parenting book. This is a book that all humans should read. Published in 2017, My Grandmother’s Hands examines the damage caused by racism in America using a body centered perspective. Therapist and Author, Resmaa Menakem, tells the story of how racism impacts black, brown, and white Americans on a physiological level.

I read pages from it out loud to my eight year old, simply because I needed to share the story Menakem was telling–how his grandmother’s hands were large and calloused from picking cotton from the age of four, how her body told the story of racism in America.

My Grandmother’s Hands is a call to action for white Americans. In it, Menakem highlights how racism harms us all. I highly recommend reading this book and sharing with your kids.

3. Anything written by Dan Siegel

I discovered Dan Siegel before having children–I found a used copy of Parenting From the Inside Out (2004) in a book store and couldn’t put it down. Siegel is a clinical psychologist who has a knack for explaining complicated concepts from neuroscience in a way that is easy to understand, digest, and apply. For example, his hand model of the brain, which shows how stress causes us to become overwhelmed, leading to meltdowns and freak outs, is a useful tool for any parent to remember when our children are in the throes of a tantrum (at any age). I highly recommend any book written by Dan Siegel, no matter the age of your children.

4. Fat Talk: Parenting In the Age of Diet Culture

Published in 2003, Fat Talk offers a new way of looking at health and body size, one that does not include fat-phobia. In it, author Virginia Sole-Smith challenges the misinformation and assumptions that lead to body shaming and outright discrimination towards fat people in American culture. Sole-Smith uses research to demonstrate how the emphasis on ending childhood obesity has resulted in more disordered eating and social emotional problems for American children than living in a larger sized body ever did. Any parent who wishes to raise healthy, happy kids needs to read this book.

5. Not a book but a Podcast!

Let’s face it–reading books is not always possible–life is very, very busy sometimes. For this reason, I leave you with a recommendation for a podcast: Raising Good Humans. Hosted by Dr. Aliza Pressman, a developmental psychologist and author, Raising Good Humans covers a variety of parenting topics including two of my favorites: Episode 40–Vaping and Gummies (What Every Parent Should Know) and Episode 29–How to Raise Anti Racist Kids. Each episode includes a guest author or expert who Dr. Pressman interviews. You’ll come away feeling supported, encouraged, and equipped to practice self compassion and care, the building blocks of parenting.

Look Me Up

In addition to these recommendations, check out these articles from my blog, all focused on parenting and teen mental health:

If you need more support parenting your tween or teen, I would be honored to help.

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