Advocate, Educator, Speaker
This has to be my most requested blog post of all time and for good reason. I have curated a collection below of about a dozen books that together cover all of the vital aspects of gentle parenting (also known as attachment, respectful, peaceful, positive, parenting). As an educator with training and certificates in infant/adolescence this booklist has been looked at in-depth and for the reason of helping you – my readers. I sincerely believe that if every parent read through the bodywork of work represented here, we could heal the world. So let’s do just that.
Browse the stack or jump straight to your favorite.
Disclosure: When I recommend a product that I believe will add value for you, it may contain an affiliate link. When you click the link to make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
1. Montessori from the start
Montessori from the start is not a how-to book of parenting strategies but a philosophical guide for walking the parenting journey with mindfulness. If you’re trying to figure out what Montessori is or how to navigate it this is a book for you. I can put down the book feeling confident and secure in our lifestyle and parenting methods. I highly recommend this book for parents tending to the invitation from our children to grow into our own enlightenment.
2. Screamfree Parenting
This book gives life to all of the things I’ve spent my life trying to grow into and share with others. Screamfree Parenting displays how I want to live in the kind of world where as parents especially Brown parents we can dissolve from previous trauma, and abuse – especially yelling and screaming. We want to change generational curses where our children advocates for themselves and the best way for me to create that reality is through my communication, especially with my children. The approach centers around identifying and communicating your feelings, needs, and requests and within such simplicity lies world-changing brilliance.
4. Mamas Don’t let your Babies Grow up to be a-holes
Well let’s be honest being a parent makes you wonder about humans and why many people we encounter are simple a-holes. Well this is the book for parents struggling with changing past traumas (so, all of us). She describes the ways in which we get “hooked” by old narratives and teaches how to move through that reactive system by facing our thoughts and feelings, detaching from them, connecting with our values, and taking action in alignment with those values. This work expands the space between stimulus (trigger) and response, where we get to choose how we show up.
5. Parenting Outside the Lines
Parenting outside the lines serves to break down and unpack a whole lotta parenting baggage we bring to the table (false assumptions, beliefs, and expectations around the mainstream parenting paradigm). Spoiler alert: rewards and punishments do not work. But since this is such a foundational component to mainstream parenting that is so difficult to escape, it’s invariably worthwhile understanding why—less of a how-to and more of a how and why not to.
6. When you Wonder, you’re Learning
When you wonder, you’re learning imparts a vital understanding how you can work together with your child to create a healthy, loving environment. If you’ve ever wanted to know how to be more involved with your children, – how to change your history and give your child something different then what you are use too. The first process to learning is wondering where to begin and this is a great beginning.
7. How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way
How to Raise an Amazing child the Montessori Way is unique on this list in that it was written by the president of the Montessori Foundation. The author advocates for unstructured lifestyle where many things are child-led. Meaning environments for optimal body, brain, and social development. But it goes beyond the obvious, even for us gentle parents. There is an epidemic of children who are lacking in basic human skills and these are the very skills that flourish with unstructured time (proprioception and sensory integration, to name just a couple). Boiled down to one sentence I would say open the door and set your children free, and that may not be novel to you, but the depth to which that experience (or lack thereof) reaches into the seemingly unrelated challenges within your child is profound.
8. Busy Toddler’s Guide to Actual Parenting
Busy Toddler’s Guide to Actual Parenting I read this book while searching for other books in the store and it gave life to all of the intuitive wisdom that had been screaming deep within me against all of the loud, controlling mainstream parenting advice of disconnection. The book details different methods of parenting that may help when you are on your own – holding your head in your hands. They are a set of practices rooted in a a natural, evolutionary approach that sets up both baby and mother to thrive. This book will soften you and shift you into a harmonious alignment with your baby, forming a secure connection that can last a lifetime.
9. Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids
Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids is written for the parent that wants to redo the life they were use too. If you’re like myself living in a Haitian household yelling was normal – it was never aggressive but speaking loudly is common. Every child is different and as parents are the nature-intended magnetic pole of orientation for children and it is within the context of a multigenerational attachment village that children are evolutionarily designed to mature. They advocate for the centering of hierarchical attachment (prioritizing the relationship between parent and child) in contrast to the modern norm of peer-orientation, which kids have fallen into in the face of the attachment void created by parent-child separation (physically and/or psychologically), which results in a myriad of negative consequences (because peers are not equipped to satiate attachment hunger).
10. Jo Frost’s toddler rules
Our favourite Supernanny Jojo created a book for us parents with older kids Jo Frost’s toddler rules. She shares evidence based, proactive and collaborative framework for parenting explosive children. You start by checking off lagging skills and listing unsolved problems and then you sit down with your child and move through 3 steps: empathy (“I’ve noticed that . . . “), define the problem (“my concern is . . .”), and invitation (“I wonder if there’s a way . . .”). The process helps you to prioritize challenges (you work on one at a time) and get realistic and mutually satisfactory solutions from your child. This approach feels good ethically and relationally and it works, whether it’s in your living room or a juvenile detention facility.
11. The Overly Honest Teacher
The Overly Honest Teacher had me giving a standing ovation with a dramatic slow clap. It was describing a lot of the work I was doing with families and validating the powerfully positive effects I was seeing. Today so many parents are not aware of who their children are and having another perspective can help see that clearly. All parents want their children to be able to vocalize how they are feeling—to own their emotions, their opinions, their fears, and their views of the world. To achieve this, parents need to be models, showing their kids the importance of honest dialogue and effective listening. But parents don’t always feel prepared. This book is about how it’s the teachers who are often caught in the middle. In an effort to stop pointing out each other’s flaws—and instead letting kids know they are supported
12. Gentle Discipline
Gentle Discipline is for every parent who has ever felt like their child is a square peg and society’s expectations for them are a round hole. Discipline is an essential part of raising happy and successful kids, but as more and more parents are discovering, conventional approaches often don’t work, and can even lead to more frustration, resentment, power struggles, and shame.
13. How to Raise an Adult
How to Raise an Adult had been recommended to me several times over the years by people who know me and my work well, so after having it on my amazon list way too long, I finally dove in, and it exceeded my expectations.
In How to Raise an Adult, Julie Lythcott-Haims draws on research, on conversations with admissions officers, educators, and employers, and on her own insights as a mother and as a student dean to highlight the ways in which overparenting harms children, their stressed-out parents, and society at large. While empathizing with the parental hopes and, especially, fears that lead to overhelping, Lythcott-Haims offers practical alternative strategies that underline the importance of allowing children to make their own mistakes and develop the resilience, resourcefulness, and inner determination necessary for success.
Relevant to parents of toddlers as well as of twentysomethings-and of special value to parents of teens-this book is a rallying cry for those who wish to ensure that the next generation can take charge of their own lives with competence and confidence.
14. Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child
In Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child uses honest vulnerability, sharp intellect, and cultural awareness to show us all how to shift the cultural tide within us away from the oppression of children (and the oppression of our own authentic selves). This book is a truly refreshing and inspiring lens for the gentle parenting and unschooling journey. Every parent knows the importance of equipping children with the intellectual skills they need to succeed in school and life. But children also need to master their emotions. Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child is a guide to teaching children to understand and regulate their emotional world. And as acclaimed psychologist and researcher John Gottman shows, once they master this important life skill, emotionally intelligent children will enjoy increased self-confidence, greater physical health, better performance in school, and healthier social relationships.
15. Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings
Popular parenting expert Dr. Laura Markham, author of Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings invites mindfulness into the parenting conversation, which is a significant and integral component of gentle parenting that is often overlooked. She shares personal examples from her own journey and practical methods from experts in the field to make mindfulness accessible to all of us. Has garnered a large and loyal readership around the world, thanks to her simple, insightful approach that values the emotional bond between parent and child. As any parent of more than one child knows, though, it’s challenging for even the most engaged parent to maintain harmony and a strong connection when competition, tempers, and irritation run high.
15. A Year of Forest School
A Year of Forest School invites mindfulness into the parenting conversation, which is a significant and integral component of gentle parenting that is often overlooked. Following on from the bestselling Play the Forest School Way, here is a brilliant selection of brand-new games, crafts and activities to get kids developing new skills and exploring the natural world all year round. Structured around the four seasons of the year, each chapter is packed full of step-by-step Forest School games and activities that harmonize with the weather and what’s happening in nature at that time of year, with a nod to seasonal festivals such as Easter and Christmas.
15. The Montessori Baby
The Montessori Baby Drawing on principles developed by the educator Dr Maria Montessori, The Montessori Baby shows how to raise your baby from birth to age one with love, respect, insight, and a surprising sense of calm. Cowritten by Simone Davies, author of the bestselling The Montessori Toddler, and Junnifa Uzodike, it’s a book filled with hundreds of practical ideas for understanding what is actually happening with your baby, and how you can mindfully assist in their learning and development. Including how to:
Feel free to comment below with your favorites!