Philly Moms Speak: 19 Super Helpful Books for Parents

From sanity-saving discipline guides to memoirs that will make you laugh-cry, these parent-focused books will be your new best friends.


You know how people say parenting is lonely? It is. And while books can’t give you a hug, they can be a reassuring voice, validate that inclination you have, solve problems and make you laugh through the trench warfare that is parenting. There are tons of great (and not-so-great) tomes out there, but this set in particular was recommended by a group of trusted Philly parents. Read up.

When you are expecting …
On Becoming Babywise. I swear by this book and recommend it to anyone who asks about sleep stuff or is just generally clueless about schedules. It’s small, which I love, because some baby books are just as long (and just as left open to interpretation) as the Bible is.

The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems. Like Babywise, this book breaks down a schedule into very clear, step-by-step instructions. Admittedly, these methods aren’t for everyone — some people find them too rigid and/or are horrified by the idea of sleep training — but if you are into very specific, very clear directives, you’ll dig this one too.

The Baby Name WizardNot just helpful in terms of providing thousands of ideas, but the background info and name analysis is surprisingly fascinating — like a little anthropological dive into why certain names evoke certain feelings, and why certain names get so popular.

For once the second one comes along …
Siblings Without Rivalry. Tips and tools to ease the transition and deal with sharing and disagreements as kids age.

Peaceful Parents, Happy Siblings. Clear, simple, down-to-earth methods for getting everyone in the house to get along.

When those babies become toddlers (aka: time to start disciplining) …
Happiest Toddler on the Block. Dr. Harvey Karp — the genius author who taught millions of parents how to stop newborn crying in Happiest Baby on the Block — is back. This time he breaks down toddler phases into manageable sections and (gently) reminds parents who are in charge.

1-2-3 Magic. A pretty well-known, award-winning staple that helps to establish consistent discipline methods that keep you (most of the time) from losing your cool.

When you’ve got one that’s full of sensitivities, energy or opinions … 
Raising Your Spirited ChildPeople swear by this book, which will help you understand your kid more and give you tools to fall back on when times are rough.

The Highly Sensitive Child. The author of this book made her name on The Highly Sensitive Adult, but here, she explains each phase of a sensitive child’s life and guides parents through them all.

For our modern times … 
What’s Eating Your Child? I’ve been told this book is “mind-blowing” for parents who can’t quite explain all those mood swings, stomach aches, skin issues, and more.

Hands Free Mama. A poignant reminder of what’s important. (And what’s not.)

Spit That Out: The Overly Informed Parent’s Guide to Raising Healthy Kids in the Age of Environmental GuiltBy a local author, this is a real-talk, non-crazy guide to figuring out how to be greener and cleaner without losing your mind.

For your soul …
Bringing up Bébé. Sold as a book that will teach you the secrets to French parenting — ICYMI, French kids are angels — it’s actually a fascinating read and good reminder to chill the eff out. (The chapter on snacks alone is worth it. SNACKS! It’s OOC in my house.)

Love Warrior. A good friend gave me this memoir, which caught me by surprise. It’s not directly about parenting, but rather about how people and relationships changes when we begin to adult. Beautifully written, made me cry.

How to Raise an Adult. I discovered this book because I moderated a speaking session with the author at the Pennsylvania Women’s Conference and have been recommending it ever since. In essence, it charts the rise of the helicopter parent and will make you do some serious introspection. (In a good way!)

To make you laugh … 
Dad is Fat. Jim Gaffigan’s book. Dude’s got five kids and a killer sense of humor. Plus, a little moving.

Bossypants. If you haven’t read Tina Fey’s book, now is the time. Says a friend: “I pick it up whenever I’m feeling like I need some inspiration. The quiet theme — balancing work and parenthood and success and womanhood — is handled in a hilarious way. She’s a genius.”

The Second Nine Months. Philly Mag alum Vicki Glembocki’s incredibly honest book about how hard and unexpectedly overwhelming the beginning of motherhood can be (a.k.a. the second nine months). It’s hilarious, it’s honest, it’s reassuring, it’s moving … the whole deal.

Shitty Mom: The Parenting Guide for the Rest of Us. A quick and witty parody (of sorts) of the very self-serious advice books that are out there. Complete pleasure-reading.


Be Well Family is a collaboration with Wee Wander, a site dedicated to helping Philadelphia parents navigate their city. See more in this series here, or keep up with all of  Wee Wander’s tips, guides and Philly related parenting help on Facebook or Instagram

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