10 Go-To Parenting Books for National Reading Month

Middle-aged man reads back cover of book while holding stack of books in one arm

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Posted in: Infants & Toddlers, Parenting Concerns, Pre-School, Teenagers, You & Your Family

Topics: Child + Adolescent Development

March is National Reading Month and a good time to reflect on the books that have made an impact on my work as a child psychologist.  I’ve compiled a list of my “go to” books that I frequently recommend to parents on some of the more common problems I’ve observed in kids.  Full disclosure: A few of the books I’m suggesting, I’ve written myself.

No need to buy any of these books.  They would all be available in your public library.

1. Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, 4th Edition, Marc Weissbluth, MD

Topic: Sleep

When my first child was an infant, I memorized the advice in this book.  By the time my second child came along, I was a pro at establishing good sleep habits.  Dr. Weissbluth outlines the best strategies for establishing healthy sleep habits at any age using the latest research.  From naps to different sleep needs for different temperaments, everything you’ve ever needed to know is in this book.

2. Coping with a Picky Eater, William G. Wilkoff, MD

Topic: Eating

This is another book that I nearly memorized when I was the parent of a picky eater.  Dr. Wilkoff, a pediatrician with more than 20 years of experience in counseling parents who struggle to keep their child on an appropriate nutritional plan, teaches concerned caregivers how to keep their family on track.  It covers everything from getting a child to try new things, to strategies on how to avoid slipping back into old habits when the stress of everyday life catches you off guard.  Dr. Wilkoff recommends, among other strategies, that setting reasonable guidelines when children are young can lay the ground work for preventing future conflicts around meal times.

3. Screen Smart Parenting, Jodi Gold, MD

Topic: Screen Time

It’s hard to imagine a more timely topic than how to negotiate screen time.  Dr. Gold melds scientific data with everyday practical advice to help parents establish smart limits around the use of technology in their family.  Dr. Gold brings her clinical training and parenting experience to answers questions such as:  How do I talk to my child about safe online practices? How can I set a proper example with my use of technology? How much screen time is too much? A soon-to-be classic for parents of kids of all ages.

4. Raising a Secure Child, Kent Hoffman, Glen Cooper and Bert Powell

Topic: Self-confidence

Raising a secure and confident child is every parent’s goal.  These authors explain how that process happens by exploring topics such as: ensuring a child’s safety while still fostering his or her ability to independently explore, how a parent’s upbringing can affect parenting styles, and how a child’s behavior can provide insight into his or her emotional world.  By utilizing real life stories and providing ways to put recommendations into practice, these authors give direction to how to raise a secure child.

5. Straight Talk about Psychiatric Medications for Kids, Timothy Wilens, MD and Paul Hammerness, MD

Topic: Psychiatric Medication

I’ve recommended this book at least 1,000 times because it the best book at explaining a topic that is anxiety provoking for many parents – psychiatric medications.  Drs. Wilens and Hammerness provide parents with a comprehensive overview of how certain medications affect the brain, the dangers and benefits of those medications, and alternative treatments to explore.  Broken up by psychiatric conditions, the authors explore the common medicines for various psychiatric diagnoses and their respective role in treating psychiatric disorders.

6. Smart but Scattered, Peg Dawson, EdD and Richard Guare, PhD

Topic: Executive Function Skills

This book explores the frustrations of being a parent of a disorganized child who struggles in school and everyday tasks.  Drs. Dawson and Guare explore the latest research in interventions for children who struggle with executive function skills and explain how you can help your child succeed.  They will help you identify your child’s strengths and weaknesses and how to use that knowledge to help them be the most successful they can be.  The authors also provide tips and strategies for how the children can cope with the frustration that goes along with being “smart but scattered.”

7. Smart but Scattered Teens, Peg Dawson, EdD,  Richard Guare, PhD, and Colin Guare

Topic: Organization Skills

In a continuation of their “Smart but Scattered” series, Drs. Dawson and Guare and freelance writer Colin Guare explore the difficulties of being the parent of a smart teen who struggles with organization and following through.  Learn specific strategies to help your teen excel academically stay organized and control his impulses to name a few, all while strengthening your bond with him.

8. How to Find Mental Health Care for Your Child, Ellen B. Braaten, PhD

Topic: Learning Issues

Published by the American Psychological Association, this book explains the psychological and learning issues that are common in children and the types of treatments available to treat these issues.

9. Bright Kids Who Can’t Keep Up, Ellen B. Braaten, PhD and Brian Willoughby, PhD

Topic: Slow Processing Speed

Often labeled as “unmotivated” or “lazy,” kids with slow processing speed struggle with an area of executive functioning that can affect many aspects of their lives.  This book explains what “processing speed” is, how to get needed support at school, how to cope at home, and how to promote your child’s well-being.  Processing speed is something that interests me both as a clinician and a researcher, and I wrote this book as a way of bringing the psychological research about this common problem into the home.

10. Straight Talk About Psychological Testing for Kids, Ellen B. Braaten, PhD and Gretchen Felopulos, PhD

Topic: Evaluations

Early in my career as a psychologist, I was frustrated that there wasn’t a book to help parents understand why their children might need to be tested and what to expect when they were.  My colleague and I wrote this book as a way of providing parents with information they would need to know before during and after an evaluation.  We explain the role that testing plays in diagnosing and devising treatment plans for children with learning disabilities, ADHD, autism spectrum, and anxiety (just to name a few).  The information that is provided will hopefully help parents ensure their child gets a thorough, accurate evaluation and receives appropriate services.

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Patrick McGuinness

Patrick McGuinness

Patrick grew up in Fairfield, CT and received his B.A. in psychology from The College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA. He has experience in Genetic Neuropharmacology research and currently serves as Psychometrician at the Learning and Emotion Ass...

To read full bio click here.

Ellen Braaten, PhD

Ellen Braaten, PhD

Ellen Braaten, PhD, is executive director of the Learning and Emotional Assessment Program (LEAP) at  Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), an associate professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School, and former co-director for the MGH Clay Cente...

To read full bio click here.