I'm a wife to my "Mr. Right". A momma of five. A maker of slow food and simple living. A collector of memories, a keeper of books, and a champion for books that make memories. An addict who likes my half-and-half with a splash of coffee. A fractured pot transformed by the One Who makes broken things beautiful. I heart homeschooling, brake for libraries, and am glad you're here with me on the journey! Be sure to subscribe to my daily digest via email or RSS feed. Or, follow along with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, or Pinterest.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Top 10 Favorite Parenting Books

To say that I am an avid reader is well, like saying the beach has a lot of sand.  If you see me on the street and ask me what I'm currently reading, chances are, I'll pull a mini library from my purse and tell you way more than you wanted to know about each title.

Top 10 Favorite Parenting Books-The Unlikely Homeschool

The "history" of my library card reads much like an autobiography, showing the seasons of my life and what passions have come and gone.  

There was the nine months during pregnancy number five that I was in a baking frenzy, or more accurately a muffin-baking frenzy and needed lots of baking books for finding muffin recipes to try...and eventually eat...and eventually regret! 

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Or the three weeks that I thought I could read and learn how to knit hats for my kids...complete disaster!

The "homemade remedy" sensation of '08 that found me reading up on all kinds of off-the-grid concotions.

The money management fixation that had me perusing every Dave Ramsey and Larry Burkett book I could get my hands on.

Then there was the "I need to add more words to my vocabulary besides the ones I hear everyday from Elmo" phase which lasted about forty-five pages into a Jane Austen novel.

Oh, and who could EVER forget the "I'm gonna homeschool?!...my children?!" craze that started over six years ago and continues to send me to the 649.6 section of the library.

All that to say, the seasons of my adult life have varied, but one look at my autobiographical library receipt shows an overarching theme...a type of book that has spanned a decade.  One that apart from the Bible is my "go to" reading topic.


Like most parents, I want to "get it right"...or at least not completely mess it up.  So, I've read a lot of parenting books in the last 10 years. A LOT.  And while I have enjoyed many, the ones I've read, re-read, and read again are not necessarily the ones that have left me with warm fuzzy feelings.  The best ones.  The ones I REALLY liked and recommend are the ones that challenged me.  That pointed out areas I needed to improve.  That held to the high standard of Scripture.  And that held my children to that same standard.  The ones that not only SPOKE Truth, but SHOWED me how to apply that Truth in the trenches.

And here they are...
My Top 10 FAVORITE Parenting Books.

General Parenting

Effective Parenting in a Defective World - Although I love every book on the "general" section of my list, this BY FAR, is my favorite.  It holds to the nice blend of grace and discipline that Biblical parenting demands.

Five-Star Families: Moving Yours from Good to Great - I read this in the "early days" of parenting and it really gave me some practical ideas for creating unique family traditions and core values while continuing to appreciate and respect those of our extended family.

The 5 Love Languages of Children- After baby #2, it quickly became obvious that I could not affirm or discipline any of my children in quite the same way.  They are individuals who naturally need to hear "I love you" in a way he/she can understand.

Creative Correction- While at times, I think this books leans towards behavior modification which does  NOT line up with my parenting philosophies, it does provide some great pro-active training ideas.  In addition, there are a few excellent chapters on child-rearing that are glaringly counter-cultural but COMPLETELY Scriptural.  I'll never look at the traditional view of "sharing" quite the same again.

Shepherding a Child's Heart- Although I do not personally enjoy the writing style of the author, I think his underlying message and practical applications are great.  I had the privilege of reading this book with my husband and a small group of other married couples and gleaned much from the weekly dialogue.

Parenting Boys

Bringing Up Boys- As a female, I appreciated the much-needed look at "all things male" that this book provides.

Preparing Him for the Other Woman: A Mother's Guide to Raising Her Son to Love a Wife and Lead a Family- Each chapter of this highly-practical book gives age-appropriate suggestions for moms training boys from 3-18.

Raising Real Men: Surviving, Teaching and Appreciating Boys- Written by the homeschooling parents of six boys, this book is a great look at how to prevent the feminizing of boys that is so prevalent in today's society.

Parenting Girls

*Quick disclaimer: Perhaps because I am a woman who was once a girl...and a homeschooling mom with an innocent homeschooled-daughter to boot, I am EXTREMELY critical of "parenting girl" books.  Lately, while reading many "parenting tween girl" books, I have been disappointed in the lack of quality material.  Most tween-girl books assume EVERY young girl will have a boyfriend by the time she's nine, prefers jeans with the word "sexy" be-dazzled on the back end, and has a covetable collection of boy-band posters plastered all over her bedroom walls.  For most homeschooled girls, mine included, none of that applies.  So this recommended book list is short, but represents the Best-of-the-Best for parenting HOMESCHOOLED girls...in MY humble opinion, at least!

Six Ways to Keep the "Little" in Your Girl- Although it is specifically designed with Tweens in mind, I recommend reading it when your daughter is five or six.

Bringing Up Girls- This much-anticipated sequel to Bringing up Boys, is a thorough look at the Biblical parenting that every girl needs.

While I thoroughly value the wisdom that came from each of these books, I continue to add parenting books to my "must read" list.  I'm always looking for great suggestions.

UPDATE:  I have since read many other parenting titles and would add, Grace-Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel to my "general parenting" list.  It is a MUST READ for parents entering the tween and teen years when discipline and training becomes a little less black-and-white.  

What would you recommend?

For more great book suggestions, be sure to head to iHomeschool Network and check out the Massive Guide to Homeschool Reading Lists!


  1. Thanks for the list! I haven't read some of these, so I just put them on hold at the library. :)
    I really, really like Shepherding a Child's Heart and The Ministry of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson. So good.

    1. I am currently reading Desperate by Sally Clarkson (and Sarah Mae) for a "new moms" small group I've been asked to potentially teach at church. She refers to The Ministry of Motherhood a few times. I'll have to add it to my list. Thanks for the suggestion. I've got about a dozen books waiting for me though...so who knows when I'll get to it. After Desperate, I'm gonna read Grace-Based Parenting. Have you read it? I've heard good things.

    2. I'm leading a study on The Ministry of Motherhood currently, and I'm loving it. I also happen to be reading Shepherding a Child's Heart. While I am thankful for the latter, the other is deeply touching my heart. I have a stack of parenting books waiting for me too - Grace Based Parenting, The Mission of Motherhood, Desperate, Give Them Grace, A Mom After God's Own Heart. Good luck!

      Oh...I'm also slowly reading through Sally and Clay Clarkson's, Educating the Wholehearted Child. A must read for all Christian homeschoolers!

    3. Grace Based Parenting is FANTASTIC! I read it after I wrote this post. Desperate was OK. I think I have grown out of that season of mothering and so much of it just didn't apply. But, if I only had really little ones, I probably would have liked it more.

  2. I loved Treasuring God in our Traditions by Noel Piper. Just a short little book full of ideas on how to intentionally be present in our kids lives.

    1. Sounds like a great one to add to my list. I looooooove books about family traditions.

  3. Nice list! Parenting Girls books are hard to find. I will have to check out your suggestions.

  4. We have a lot of these...Five Star Families...that's a great MOPS book! The author Carol Kuykendall is one of my favorite MOPS people of all time. Not so much parenting as general life advice related to parenting is Little House on the Freeway by Tim Kimmel. Love.

    1. Hmmm...never heard of that one. I'll have to check it out. Yep! I was a MOPS team leader and co-coordinator for many years and loved Carol Kuykendall's books. Got to hear her speak once. Fantastic!

  5. The 5 Love Languages of Children is sitting on my bedside table at the moment.

    I'm a HUGE fan of Meg Meeker -- I read Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters --- because my father was absent. I wanted to understand how that affects me now. It was wonderful. She also has the 10 Habits of Happy Mothers and a book about raising boys that escapes me.

    I also love Hold on to Your Kids -- this was the book that prompted me to homeschool.

    Awesome list!

    1. Oooo...thanks for so many recommendations. My "must read" list is getting longer! Hope you like 5 Love Languages.

  6. Thanks for the girl recommendations. I've seen that disturbing trend and my daughter is only 20 months old. I am already seeing a difference with my oldest boy (finishing 3rd grade) and his schooled peers. It sort of makes me sad...

    I saw you ask above about Grace-Based Parenting. Loved the book and loved his conference, except that he's thrown homeschooling under the bus several times which irks me. He tends to lump all homeschooling with hyper-sheltering. When I read his book and ignored his mention of homeschooling, I thought everything else was spot on.

    John Rosemond's A Family of Value is up at the top of my list for practical parenting help.

    1. Thanks for the 411 on Grace-Based Parenting. I'll have to keep that in the back of my mind when I get to it.

  7. I have a great book called something like "Wild Things" about parenting boys. I'd also strongly recommend "Raising a Modern Day Knight."

    I'm with you, there's a dearth of books for parenting girls. It's rather sickening. I know there was at least one other I would include, but I'm not thinking of it now.

    1. Both of those books have been on my list for awhile. So, I can't wait to get to them. SO MANY BOOKS, so little time!

  8. Parenting with Love and Logic by Jim Fay and Foster Cline was outstanding. They also have several versions: toddlers, teens, & teaching. My husband and I have been know to use these techniques on each other.
    Thanks for the list. Always looking for quality reading material. :)

  9. I'm a new mom, and I love to read parenting books. I also love your site!!! I read Shepherding a Childs Heart, and I feel uncomfortable about it. I dont like the idea of spanking an infant, but the book says that this is right. I know that spanking is ok, but a baby? What are your thoughts?

    1. I actually don't remember that part of the book. But no, spanking an infant would, certainly, NOT be in line with my parenting beliefs. Thanks for pointing this out.

  10. Dannah Gresh(?) I think her last name is.. Has great parenting books too. Its been a while since I read them but I remember she had a wonderful book for raising girls.

    1. I have that one listed under the Parenting Girls section. It is a really good one!



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