I imagine my parents without their strands of gray hair, huddled together on a second-hand couch with a tattered copy of The Mother’s Almanac open across their laps.
They stare at the pages with wide eyes, my mother’s tiny bump elevating the chunky book, and are also on the waiting list to read What To Expect When You’re Expecting from the library.
There’s no denying that parenting has changed quite a lot from how it was in the 80s and 90s. And with those changes came new approaches to handling old challenges, like getting your kids to eat broccoli or teaching them to share. However, I think one of the biggest (and best!) changes to raising youngins is how varied the approaches are, how diverse the language is, and how normal it seems to challenge status quos.
The proof is in the pudding as they say—or in this case, the literature. Here are 10 popular books that show new and expecting parents a glimpse into modern childrearing.
1. Waiting for Birdy: A Year of Frantic Tedium, Neurotic Angst, and the Wild Magic of Growing a Family by Catherine Newman
Published in 2005, this book developed out of a successful column run on babycenter.com and tracks life with a newborn and toddler. The “hysterical must-read” for all parents has been related to chatting with a good friend about all the ups and downs of parenting life. Despite the book’s comical anecdotes, the author also discusses a difficult pregnancy and doesn’t shy away from mentioning the hard parts too. Readers who rated the books as a perfect 5-star read frequently mentioned it having made them better parents.
2. Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman
Journalist Pamela Druckerman takes readers through her journey of having and raising a baby in Paris. As she noticed the stark differences between those seemingly angelic Parisian babies and what she was used to from their American counterparts, she used her investigative writer’s instinct to document the little changes that change a sassy “NO!” to a sweet “oui, oui!”. Readers praise Druckerman’s writing along with her ability to pose important questions to parents that ultimately make them feel as if their own lives are changed too.
3. Siblings Without Rivalry by Adele Faber
Once babies sleep and eat like little champs, they face must master being social and conquering jealousy, sharing, and in-home competition. The authors of this book hit a home run with their much loved debut, How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk, and are swinging for the fence with this 2012 publication. Parents love it for its insight on handling quibbles while also allowing children to maintain their individuality.
4. Great with Child: Letters to a Young Mother by Beth Ann Fennelly
The author of this 2007 book writes as if she’s addressing an expecting friend through a series of letters. Though Fennelly does answer a few straightforward questions about parenting, some of her essays simply recount the musing on life as a new mother and the identity shift that ensues. Readers love its honest voice and subtle parenting advice, which makes it feel more like a heartwarming novel than a parenting book.
5. Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year by Anne Lamott
This books recounts life as a single parent in her 30s who also has to deal with all of life’s other surprises. The memoir includes a blend of wit and faith that readers say “makes them feel less alone.”
6. Dinner: A Love Story by Jenny Rosenstrach
Meal time can be tricky with little ones. This book blends the best of a memoir with parenting advice and how-tos on coming together at the family table. Readers who also loved Real Food for Mother and Baby praise Rosenstrach’s mouth-watering recipes and willingness to diversify a picky child’s palate. The book has been recognized by fans for its ability to reinvigorate meal planning, which also sheds a bit of light on the parent’s habits as well.
7. All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenting by Jennifer Senior
Senior’s book almost instantly shot to the New York Times bestsellers list—and for good reason. Readers love this particular rendition on parenting for its common language that puts things in a perspective anyone can relate to and understand. According to readers, the book “pieces it all together perfectly” and “hits all the right notes” through its ability to transform research and years of parenting wisdom into condensed and understandable tidbits that seem comforting for modern parents.
8. On Becoming Baby Wise: Giving Your Infant the Gift of Nighttime Sleep by Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam
Okay, so this book has been around a while, but it gets an invitation to this list for it’s frequent updates and added insights. The authors are praised as some of the world’s best gurus on infant management—particularly when it comes to mastering the challenge of nighttime feedings and solidifying sleep cycles. Readers love it for it’s ability to help parents get those much needed ZZZs. The approaches outlined within the guide have also been regarded as “life-saving magical miracle dust” that turn fussy infants into happy cherubs.
What other parenting books do you like? Sound off in the comments!