Punished by Rewards by Alfie Kohn

This is a powerful book about the downsides of rewards.  I read it as an undergraduate and it got me to re-think how I was using stickers in my work with children.  I went to multiple workshops put on by Alfie Kohn and I was always impressed.  My biggest take away is that motivation and drive need to come from within the child rather than from external forces.  This book is really a game-changer.  I highly recommend it to all parents and teachers.

Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman

Just because someone has a high IQ doesn’t mean he/she will be successful and happy.  A doctor with a horrible bedside manner may be brilliant, but he won’t keep many patients if he’s really rude to them.  Being kind and empathetic toward others, having good social skills, and being able to know how you’re feeling and calm yourself down are important life skills that should be taught to children from a young age.

How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids by Jancee Dunn

This book deals with the taboo subject of the rage that many new mothers feel toward their mates.  If the author is working as much as her husband, why is she changing more diapers and doing all of the household chores?  Having a child for the first time inevitably changes a couple’s dynamics.  In this book Dunn mixes research with a vulnerable and honest first-person account to explain what is happening and why.  She also gives actionable ways to get through this time without hating your husband.  A good pick-up for new parents.

The Baby Book:  Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby from Birth to Age Two by Dr. William and Martha Sears

Some of the many topics in this book are attachment, birth, bathing, breastfeeding, babywearing, and sleeping.  Especially with your first child, this is a good book to have on your bookshelf; when you have a quick question just go to the glossary and the find the page.  This is good to get during pregnancy so you have it right after birth.

The Pregnancy Book:  Month-by-Month, Everything You Need to Know From America's Baby Experts by Dr. William and Martha Sears

I can’t speak to the newer edition; this refers to the older one.  I liked that this pregnancy book explains what is happening inside your body in a positive way, without creating a lot of stress and anxiety, the way some other books like What to Expect When You’re Expecting may tend to do.

The Breastfeeding Book:  Everything You Need to Know About Nursing Your Child from Birth Through Weaning by Martha and William Sears

This is a great book to have on your bookshelf before your baby is born if you plan to breastfeed.  Breastfeeding seems natural and easy, but most women will encounter difficulties at some point.  Having this book and a lactation consultant can help you be able to continue breastfeeding until you want to stop.  Take what you want from it and leave the rest.  I found specific tips on how to breastfeed and stay calm, as well as different positions to try to be especially helpful.

Infants, Toddlers, and Caregivers by Janet Gonzalez-Mena and Dianne Widmeyer Eyer

If you are looking for a short, lightly academic book on how to care for infants and toddlers, this is what I would recommend.  There are lots of different editions that vary in price, but even a very old one will be helpful.  It is based on the respectful approach of Magda Gerber.

A Secure Base:  Parent Child Attachment and Healthy Human Development by John Bowlby

This classic book has Bowlby defining attachment, discussing secure and insecure attachment, as well as the possible causes and effects on developing children.  Bowlby talks about the idea of a secure base from which to explore.  He explains the four types of attachment and their long-term effects.

The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley

A gentle and kind, yet effective approach to help infants and parents sleep and be well-adjusted.  This book has good ideas to help infants sleep without crying.  Naps, feedings, sleep patterns, and co-sleeping are discussed.

Good Nights:  The Happy Parents’ Guide to the Family Bed (and a Peaceful Night’s Sleep!) by Dr. Jay Gordon and Maria Goodavage

This book talks about bedsharing including criticisms, SIDS risk and safety issues, thumb sucking, sex, will the child ever leave, and benefits of the practice.  There is plenty of information for you to decide if this is something that you might want to try with your child.

Down Came the Rain:  My Journey Through Postpartum Depression by Brooke Shields

The author details her personal experience with postpartum depression.  She discusses her struggles getting pregnant, individual and societal expectations placed on her as a new mother, what this depression felt like, and how she was able to find joy in being a mother with therapy, medication, and time.  This is a very candid and honest account that many women can relate to, and that can help others understand the experience of postpartum depression.

The No-Cry Discipline Solution:  Gentle Ways to Encourage Good Behavior Without Whining, Tantrums & Tears by Elizabeth Pantley

This book has advice for raising children between the ages of 2 and 8.  There is warm, yet practical advice on how to deal with tantrums, sleep problems, talking back, aggression like hitting and kicking, fights between siblings, swearing, taking too long, whining, and misbehavior in public.  Real situations with great, specific ways of handling them are given.  I recommend this book for parents of young children.

Discipline that Works:  Promoting Self-Discipline in Children by Dr. Thomas Gordon

In this book Gordon discusses how punishment is harmful to children and encourages self-destructive and aggressive behaviors.  What strategies can parents and teachers use instead?  Dr. Gordon discusses ways to help children become self-reliant, make healthy decisions, and control themselves.  Topics covered include problem-solving, conflict resolution, active listening, and the use of I-messages.  An important book to help adults communicate effectively with children as they grow.

The Hurried Child:  Growing Up Too Fast Too Soon by David Elkind

This book points out the effects of rushing children through childhood and the stress children feel with enormous expectations to achieve and excel in many activities.  In the newer version there is information on the Internet, the media, classroom culture, and school violence.  Elkind explains where this hurrying takes place and why, and offers advice on how to protect the freedom and joy of childhood.

Real Boys: Rescuing Our Sons from the Myths of Boyhood by Dr. William Pollack

In this book Pollack looks at why so many boys are sad, lonely, and confused even when they seem to be confident, tough, and cheerful.  When parents and teachers really understand what boys are going through, they can help them become more self-confident and emotionally aware, to better deal with life issues.