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Book Recommendations about Parenting & ADD/ADHD

Taking Charge of ADHD by Russell Barkley

Super-parenting for ADD by Edward Hallowell.  (He also has a podcast with about a million episodes.  Free and easy to access!)

Late, Lost, and Unprepared by Joyce Cooper-Kahn & Laurie Dietzel


This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive compensation if you click the links and then buy. (and if you do, thanks!)

Puberty Book Recommendations

The Care and Keeping of You (The American Girl book). These people know their market!  This book is known and loved by a gazillion people.

There’s also a “Part Two” version for older girls.

This one was recommended to me as a more inclusive puberty book for girls:

And for boys, I like this one but FYI it does refer to boys developing an interest “in girls” (ie, it is heteronormative.)

And if you want a book that offers some information about puberty plus reproduction and other sex-related topics, this is always my favorite for kids 7 (ish) and above:

And for kids in 6th grade (ish) and above:


This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive compensation if you click the links and then buy. (and if you do, thanks!)

Recommended books for talking with kids about sex

Recommended books about sex for kids

In my workshops, I love to recommend books.  I also frequently get emails asking for book recommendations–both for kids and parents.  If I had to pare down the options to just 5, this is what I would choose.


What’s the Big Secret is my recommendation for any age.  It talks about pregnancy, sex, relationships, good touch, and privacy.  Toddlers in the potty-training years especially find the page with the boy & girl peeing quite interesting.


It’s So Amazing is my recommendation for an older child, one who already knows some information and is now ready for more depth.  The reading level in this book is upper elementary.


My favorite puberty book for girls is “The Care and Keeping of You.”  This is part of the American Girl series, and there’s a second Care and Keeping of You, a Feelings book, and several more.  They are all good.  The first “Care and Keeping of You” has great information about puberty, but does not include any information about reproduction.


A good puberty book for boys is “The Boys Body Book.”  One note about this book–it does use heteronormative language to talk about romantic feelings/attraction.  (ie, it tells boys you might find yourself looking at girls a little differently.)  That’s exclusive language and it’s my one big complaint about this book.


And for parents, I recommend 
From Diapers to Dating
. It’s a reference source and guide for all sorts of information about children and sexuality and development. The author is a minister, interestingly, and does address how to share your family values about sexuality with your kids as well.


There are many other good books, but these are my favorites. Happy Reading!

This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive compensation if you click the links and then buy. (and if you do, thanks!)

Gavin de Becker’s Test of 12

Although Gavin de Becker’s book Protecting the Gift is a most uncomfortable read, I recommend it to parents whenever discussions of child safety come up.  One of the many practical pieces of advice is how to tell when your child is ready to be left alone–ready to play a major role in assuring their own safety.  Can you answer yes to all of the questions below?

The Test of Twelve

  1. Does your child know how to honor his feelings? If someone makes him uncomfortable, that’s an important signal.
  2. Are you as the parent strong enough to hear about any experience your child has had, no matter how unpleasant?
  3. Does your child know it’s okay to rebuff and defy adults?
  4. Does your child know it’s okay to be assertive?
  5. Does your child know how to ask for assistance or help?
  6. Does your child know how to choose who to ask? For example, he should look for a woman to help him.
  7. Does your child know how to describe his peril?
  8. Does your child know it’s okay to strike, even to injure, someone if he believes he is in danger, and that you’ll support any action he takes as a result of feeling uncomfortable or afraid?
  9. Does your child know it’s okay to make noise, to scream, to yell, to run?
  10. Does your child know that if someone ever tries to force him to go somewhere, what he screams should include, ”This is not my father”? Onlookers seeing a child scream or even struggle are likely to assume the adult is a parent.
  11. Does your child know that if someone says, ”Don’t yell,” the thing to do is yell? The corollary is if someone says, ”Don’t tell,” the thing to do is tell.
  12. Does your child know to fully resist ever going anywhere out of public view with someone he doesn’t know, and particularly to resist going anywhere with someone who tries to persuade him?


Book Recommendations for a New Parent

The organizer of one of the local parenting groups I’ve worked with before recently asked me if I could recommend a sort of “Best of” book list for a new mom who was joining their group.  It ended up being a really fun reflection for me–which books I like the most, which would be helpful for someone who is just starting their parenting journey…  (with the disclaimer that, of course, no one who has an infant has time to actually read~)  The list ranges from advice about understanding kids’ emotional lives, to childhood sexual development, to basic behavior modification, to advice about feeding and toilet training.

Do you know someone who is about to become a parent? Want a starter book list for yourself or for a loved one?  See below–and let me hear from you if you have book recs for new parents that you think should be on this list.


  • The Whole Brain Child by Dan Seigel & Tina Payne Bryson.  This is always my top parenting book recommendation.  It is so helpful (and easy to read!) for understanding your child’s inner emotional life.
  • How to Talk so Kids will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk, AND Siblings without Rivalry both by Faber & Mazlich.  These two books are classics, for a good reason!
  • Your 1 Year Old, Your 2 Year Old, etc by Louise Ames & Frances Ilg.  This is a series, each book focusing on a particular year of life, and offering great basic child development information about what to expect from kids that age.  So much of the angst parents experience can be relieved by knowing that their child’s latest worrisome or obnoxious behavior is developmentally normal.  Highly recommend these books.  (they are really short, too!)
  • Toilet Training The Brazelton Way by T Berry Brazelton & Joshua Sparrow.  Children don’t generally react well to being pushed to toilet train when they aren’t yet ready.  This book gives parents a clear, simple, child-centered guide to an area of parenting that can be really difficult.
  • The first 43 pages of “Parenting the Defiant Child” by Alan Kazdin.  (not pictured.)  This book gives a great basic overview of some behavioral myths and facts.  I don’t love the rest of the book but the first 43 pages should be handed out at hospitals in order to dispel some of the unhelpful, inaccurate ideas out there about shaping behavior.
  • From Diapers to Dating by Deborah Haffney.  Great information about childhood sexual development for parents.  Might as well get yourself educated from the beginning!
  • What’s the Big Secret by Laura Krasney Brown  This book is for kids, and it does a great book explaining bodies & reproduction.  It’s written for the youngest kids–once your child isn’t ripping pages & eating paper when they ‘read,’ they are ready for this book.
  • When I Feel Angry (or When I Feel Sad, or When I am Missing You) by Cornelia Maude Spellman.  These are also titles for kids.  The author is a therapist, and each book does a great job of explaining emotions to kids, and giving them basic support for how to manage them.  Highly recommended!
  • Child of Mine: Feeding with Love and Good Sense by Ellen Satter.  Child of Mine is the go-to book for advice on feeding kids in a nutritionally & psychologically healthy way.
  • Protecting the Gift: Keeping Children and Teenagers Safe (and Parents Sane) by Gavin DeBecker.  (not pictured.)  It’s not a pleasant read, but for any parent who has concerns/fears about child safety (from human predators, specifically) this book is the evidence-based guide for how to recognize and listen to your intuition and teach your children to do the same.  It also has the helpful “Test of 12” for measuring whether your child is ready to be left alone.



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!

Books Recommended in Beyond Birds and Bees

In my workshops, I love to recommend books. I also frequently get emails asking for book recommendations–for both kids and parents. The most common request is for books about sex. If I had to pare down the options to just three, this is what I would choose. One is for little kids, one for older ones, and one book is for parents. For now, I’m going to just post the book photos/links up, but in later posts I will review each book individually.

What’s the Big Secret is my recommendation for any age. I DO recommend that you make up your own words with the younger kids, but the pictures are appropriate for any age. Toddlers in the potty-training years especially find the page with the boy & girl peeing quite interesting.
It's So AmazingIt’s So Amazing is my recommendation for an older child, one who already knows some information and is now ready for more depth.

From Diapers to Dating, by Debra HaffnerAnd for parents, I recommend From Diapers to Dating. It’s a reference source and guide for all sorts of information about children and sexuality and development. The author is a minister, interestingly, and does address how to share your family values about sexuality with your kids as well.

There are many other good books, but these are my favorites. Happy Reading!

Free Parenting Resources, part One–BOOKS!

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!

Recommended Books about Death or Grief & Loss

Always & Forever, by Alan Durant, is reviewed in detail here. It is one of my favorite books about grief for kids. Highly recommended.

The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn isn’t about grief or loss, but it is a book about how hard it is to separate or say goodbye. That’s certainly a related theme when we are talking about grief with children. The main character is a raccoon who is about to start school. He’s sad and worried about leaving his mother–who teaches him a sweet, nurturing trick for self-soothing. I’ve known families that adopted the trick for themselves after reading the book. Very sweet.

The Bug Cemetery, by Frances Hill is about a group of entrepreneurial kids who stumble upon the ‘business’ of funerals.  The brother and sister pair offer “bug funerals,” complete with fake mourners, eulogies, and tombstones  for 10 cents.  But, when their friend’s pet cat is killed, they realize that “Funerals aren’t any fun when they’re for someone you love.”  The illustrator does a great job of conveying sadness, even anguish, in the children’s faces during the real funeral.

I like that this book illustrates that we can pretend to have a feeling, but that it isn’t the same as the real feeling at all.  Very young children often “pretend” to mourn a relative who died before they were born–and that’s normal–but I like having a tool to show the difference.  I also like the way the book shows kids ways that they can cope with death and loss–the children in the book honor their feelings and also honor the dead.

When Dinosaurs Die, by Laura Krasny Brown, is similar to their many other “When Dinosaurs…” books.  It is an informative, non-fiction book on a difficult topic, somewhat cartoonish in style, that explains facts & feelings to kids, and answers their typical questions.  The lack of a narrative makes it a little less interesting to children as a bedtime story, but perhaps makes it an even better choice for an older child who can read and would benefit from having a source of information under his control.

Of course there are many more, but consider this a beginning list.  Please make suggestions about other books to include in this list in the comments section.

Keeping Kids Safe

The Austin newspaper had a frightening story last weekend about a local child abduction.  It is the sort of story that makes parents worry a little more and hold our kids a little closer.  But, it also brings up good questions about what we parents can do to keep our children safe from harm.  We know how to keep them away from the knives and the bleach, but what about dangerous people?  

Gavin de Becker’s book “Protecting the Gift” is a great guide for parents.  In it, he encourages us to really listen to our intuition–that little guiding voice we so often try to rationalize away.  Some guy creeps you out in the parking lot?  There is probably a reason why–our animal instincts still work!  We are able to evaluate lots of different signals like facial expressions, physical promixity, and of course the undefinable ‘creepy factor.’  And as parents, not only do we need to listen to that voice ourselves are parents–we need to teach our children to recognize and listen to that voice in their own heads, too.    

Have you told your child “Don’t talk to strangers”?  de Becker brilliantly illustrates why that is actually a counter-productive lesson.  First, if our children are ever in need of help, being reluctant to speak to a stranger is an obstacle to keeping themselves safe.  Children need to (a) know how to choose which stranger is likely the most safe, and (b) go to that person and ask for help–because a child sitting alone, looking lost & vulnerable, makes for a ‘perfect’ victim to a predator.  By the way, de Becker gives a suggestion about whom children should ask for
help.  Surprisingly, it wasn’t policemen–it was mothers.  Citing
plenty of statistics, he argues that a mother, or even a (non-parent) woman, is far more likely to be the safest choice for helping a lost

When your child shys away from a stranger–even a friend of yours–how do you handle it? I encourage you to keep in mind that while politeness is important, so to is learning how to keep themselves safe.  Parents can also help children learn to listen to their inner voice by asking questions: “How would you like to say goodbye to Ms. Smith?”  or “If you were in this restaurant alone, who would you ask for help–and why?”

Although the book is a little too full (for my tastes) of frightening stories, the wisdom inside is well worth it.  

(And if you live in Austin, I’m leading a 3-part series/book group to discuss “Protecting the Gift” and how to keep our kids safe.  More info here )

Book Review: 2 books about divorce for parents

I love to recommend books to parents, because there is SO much good information available.  Not to mention that books are such a bargain for what you get!  I encourage every divorcing parent I work with to purchase books on divorce for their kids, and to read one for themselves, too.  (BTW, if you’re looking for book recommendations on divorce for kids, go here.)

My clear favorite book for parents is “Mom’s House, Dad’s House: Making Two Homes for Your Child” by Isolina Ricci.

My only complaint is that this book nearly 400 pages–with small print! But some things are worth carving out time to read, and this book is one of those things. All questions are answered inside those covers–from Parenting Plans to the power of language, to managing emotions and healing wounds to the new “Businesslike relationship, and troubleshooting problems. Read it cover to cover and then refer back to it when things come up.

The other book that I sometimes recommend to parents is “Joint Custody with a Jerk: Raising a Child with an Uncooperative Ex”, by Julie A. Ross & Judy Corcoran.

“Joint Custody with a Jerk” wins the prize for best book title of all time. In fact, I originally purchased this book solely because of the title, and I bet I’m not the first. But there’s good stuff beyond the cover, too.  For example, I like that this book starts by encouraging the reader to examine their own feelings, and identifying a problem other than ‘my ex is a jerk.’ This is the absolute perfect place to start, and a method I use with families myself. They teach a concept they call the “problem pyramid,” and encourage parents to ask themselves 1: what exactly is the problem, 2, who has upset feelings about the issue, 3, who brought up the issue, and 4, who is responsible for the solution? By working through those questions, the authors say that parents will have a healthy, effective guide as to how they should respond–to the jerky ex, their kids, or in any other relationship where conflicts arise.

If you get through those 700+ pages of parenting advice in those 2 books, and still want more: email me.  I’ll see what else I can dig up.  ;^)

This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive compensation if you click the links and then buy.
(and if you do, thanks!)