I often receive phone calls and emails from parents who want my services, but for a variety of reasons, can’t come in.  A mom wrote recently asking if I knew of a way she could receive parent coaching for free.  Unfortunately, my favorite parenting resource in Austin (Family Connections) has recently shut down, so I didn’t really have a referral for her.  Instead, I offered to create a list of books and other resources that offer information and guidance that I think is reliably good.  So, this is the first of a couple of posts that are intended to be a resource for anyone who would like to learn & focus on their parenting–and today’s can all be free, if you visit your local library.  Future posts will include information on where/how to start if you are looking for help for/about your child’s behaviors–in any town.  Stay tuned!


If you want to learn for free, your local public library is the best place to start.  Parenting books are GREAT sources of information, you need only invest your time.  These links below will take you to the books on Amazon, but you can also search for them on your public libary’s online catalog.  Click here for the Austin Public Library Online Catalog.

So, in no particular order, here are some of my favorite books on parenting:

(Updated to include my now favorite parenting book:)  Dan Siegel & Tina Payne Bryson’s “The Whole Brain Child“.  This books is GREAT!  My first recommendation to any parent who wants to understand and better respond to unwanted behavior.

For improving relationships between siblings: Faber/Mazlish’s “Siblings without Rivalry.”

For improving your communication with your children: Faber/Mazlish’s “How to Talk so Kids will Listen, and Listen so Kids Will Talk

Alan Kazdin’s “Parenting the Defiant Child.”  My favorite part of this book is the first 65 pages–he dispels major myths about parenting, discipline, and behavior.  Plus, it’s easy to read and evidenced-based!  The second part of the book is about creating a behavior modification plan (ie, sticker chart.)  Sticker charts aren’t for everyone, but if you’re thinking about using one, this is the very best place to educate yourself on how to do one the right way!  I’ve written about this book before, click here to read.

For a general, positive, refreshing take on the overall parenting relationship: “Playful Parenting.”  We parents can’t use a playful response to every problem or challenge, but I often advise parents to start with playfulness.  It’s a great tool for keeping things positive, and for avoiding putting your own upset into the situation (which pretty much always makes a situation worse, you know?)

For detailed guidelines on determining whether your child’s behaviors are “normal” and age-appropriate, the Gesell Series–one for each age.  I really love these books–they are small and easy to read and very validating.  Sometimes things that look like problems to adults are just typical child development.  (“Oh, that’s just the way a 3 year old IS!.)

For classic, solid, reliable, nurturing and positive information about child development: anything by T. Berry Brazelton.  I especially like his “Touchpoints” series.

For guidance about childhood sexual development and how to talk to your kids about sex (make sure you visit my other blog on this topic, btw): I like Deborah Haffner’s book” “From Diapers to Dating.”

If you suspect that your child may have sensory integration issues: “The Out of Sync Child.”

For beginning conversations with your child about sexual development, I recommend these books.     (These recommendations are from my workshop called “Beyond Birds and Bees.” )

BTW, please share YOUR favorite parenting books with me in the comments!  It’s a great way for me to add to my list, too!

Stay tuned for the next posts, including online resources and information about finding/choosing & working with a therapist.


Note: the book links are affiliate links, which means that if you click & buy, I get a tiny little percentage of the purchase price, at no additional cost to you.  So, if you do, thanks!