Must Read Parenting Books for Respectful Parents
Book Recommendations / Parenting

Must Read Parenting Books for Respectful Parents

Must Read Parenting Books for Respectful Parents

There are so many wonderful authors who have written about respectful parenting and children’s rights, and I’d love to share with you the ones that inspire me most. I wish these books would become ‘mainstream’ instead of books focused on ‘how to get your kid to do x’, ‘how to tame your 2-year-old’ or ‘why you should let your newborn scream themselves to sleep’. Ahh…no.

Read these books, gift them to friends, get the message out there! Kids are people!


Must Read Parenting Books for Respectful ParentsParenting for Social Change

Book Depository | Amazon

This is a wonderful place to start to challenge the social conditioning embedded in all of us. A powerful read that challenges the belief that children must be controlled in order to grow into good humans. Opinions and experience are backed up by research. This book will make you think and question and will confront you in all the right ways. The book empowers us to transform our own relationships with our children in the hopes that will also lead to wider social change. I’m all about fighting childism and I’d love more people to read this book!

“The reality that adults have more power than children, however, does not mean that it is appropriate or necessary for us to exercise control over them. Rather, it means that we have an obligation to consciously choose how to use our power. We can choose to use our greater power to control children and coerce them to do what we want. We can choose to do nothing with our power. But we can also choose to use our power to support, assist, and facilitate the growth and learning of children in ways that affirm their personal power, dignity, and humanity.” -Teresa Graham Brett

Must Read Parenting Books for Respectful ParentsUnconditional Parenting

Book Depository | Amazon

This was one of the first parenting books I ever read. At the time it was confronting! I remember rolling my eyes often while reading. “I can’t tell my child ‘good job’? This is clearly taking it too far”, I would think to myself. But a seed was planted, and I’m so grateful. Because however confronting it was, I eventually couldn’t deny it was true. This is a great introduction to parenting unconditionally, without rewards or punishment. It is backed up by loads of research and includes so much wisdom and advice. A really helpful and worthwhile read.

“Children need to be loved as they are, and for who they are. When that happens, they can accept themselves as fundamentally good people, even when they screw up or fall short. And with this basic need met, they’re also freer to accept (and help) other people. Unconditional love, in short, is what children require in order to flourish.” -Alfie Kohn

Must Read Parenting Books for Respectful ParentsNonviolent Communication

Book Depository | Amazon

I would describe this book as life-changing. It’s helpful not just for parenting but any relationship. Most of us never learned how to recognise our own feelings and needs, let alone another person’s. We were taught that compromising meant settling for not getting all of your needs met. This book helps us learn how to communicate effectively and nonviolently. How to recognise and name our own feelings and needs, how to communicate them to others, and how to work out disagreements in a way that allows everyone to get their needs met, how to empathise and connect. This book will give you clarity and make your life with your children more peaceful.

“My children gave me some invaluable lessons about demands. Somehow I had gotten it into my head that, as a parent, my job was to make demands. I learned, however, that I could make all the demands in the world but still couldn’t make my children do anything. This is a humbling lesson in power for those of us who believe that, because we’re a parent, teacher, or manager, our job is to change other people and make them behave. Here were these youngsters letting me know that I couldn’t make them do anything. All I could do was make them wish they had—through punishment. Then eventually they taught me that any time I was foolish enough to make them wish they had complied by punishing them, they had ways of making me wish that I hadn’t!” -Marshall B. Rosenberg

Must Read Parenting Books for Respectful ParentsParenting A Free Child

Book Depository | Amazon

This one is about respectful parenting as well as unschooling but they are so connected that it is worth a read for anyone. It’s written in question and answer format and covers all the most common concerns people have about respectful parenting. It’s really everything you need to know. Filled with personal stories and examples and written with passion. I really loved this book. If you can find a copy, grab it ASAP!

“It is usually assumed that children who aren’t made to obey their parents will grow to be unruly, disrespectful, and ‘out of control’. Nothing could be further from the truth. Children who are treated with respect are respectful of others. Children who are listened to as equals listen to others as equals. Children whose opinions are valued value others’ opinions. A family where parents and children are allies is a peaceful family.” -Rue Kream

Must Read Parenting Books for Respectful ParentsEscape from Childhood

Book Depository | Amazon

Oh boy. This isn’t one to start with if you’re new to respectful parenting. This will challenge even those who have been on this path for a while. John Holt was way ahead of his time. Some parts were challenging to me and I don’t agree with all of it but I am glad I read it. A radical view of what the world could look like if children really were treated with the same rights as adults.

“For a very long time, ever since men formed societies in which some people bossed others, children have fulfilled this very important function. Every adult parent, however lowly or powerless, had at least someone that he could command, threaten and punish. No man was so poor, even a slave, that he could not have these few slaves of his own. Today, when most ‘free’ men feel like slaves, having their own home-grown slaves is very satisfying. Many could not do without them.” -John Holt

What are your top parenting book recommendations?


September 19, 2017 at 5:50 pm

Thank you for this! It’s great to get recommendations as the choice of [parenting] books can be overwhelming. I love the quote from Teresa Graham Brett!

September 20, 2017 at 8:16 am

Thanks for the list- I’ve just downloaded a couple to my kindle and look forward to reading them. That Alfie Cohen one is on Audible which might be easier for some people to access than a book.
One of my favorite books is ‘Peaceful parents, happy kids’ (or ‘calm parent happy kids’ depending on your country) by Laura Markham. It’s broken into three parts: self regulation; fostering connection; and coaching, not controlling. I’ve listened to it on audible several times and get something new out of it every time.

September 27, 2017 at 6:08 am

I love Naomi Aldort´s book Raising our children, raising ourselves and Positive Parenting by Rebecca Eanes.
Thanks for the list and lots of love from Europe!

October 3, 2017 at 12:07 am

I would be interested to know with which parts of Holts Book you don’t agree with? Love & support from a worldschooling family from Germany

October 3, 2017 at 7:12 am

I love reading your posts! Thank you for sharing. Have you heard of aletha solter and aware parenting? Just wondering as you never mention it?
If not, please take
Time to read the aware baby. It changed my life!
Jeanne from Switzerland

October 13, 2017 at 11:23 am

My multi-cultural family needs these books in French…or a similar list for French speakers. Any suggestions? I’d love a blog like this in French as well. Do you have any francophone folks in your network? Many thanks for the inspiration.

    Jeanne bressler
    October 13, 2017 at 7:19 pm

    Mon bébé comprend tout de aletha solter! le site est aussi en français.
    Le site n’est vraiment pas vendeur malheureusement mais le contenu change une vie!

December 9, 2017 at 8:21 pm

Thanks for the information. It’s a book that I’ve long been looking for.

February 26, 2018 at 7:20 pm

Peaceful parent, happy kids by Laura Markham and positive parenting by Rebecca Eanes. I especially like the “homework” sections in peaceful parenting that get parents to discuss with each other their childhoods and work towhethe to consciously create the family they want

December 10, 2018 at 10:23 am

The book that changed my life (therefore my children’s lives), was Parent Effectiveness Training (P.E.T.) by Thomas Gordon. I believe the author was a leader in the concepts and skills of gentle, peaceful parenting, and his thoughts are quoted often in Alfie Kohn’s books. The skills and principles are practically described, with multiple examples, along with the reasons for not using punishments or rewards, and the alternatives.

October 6, 2019 at 5:12 pm

Thank you! I love Raising our children raising ourselves from Naomi Aldort. Have you read that one? I’ll read your recommandations for sure!

March 17, 2021 at 9:41 am

I love these books. Another one that really made an impact on my was one that I don’t often see mentioned: Gerald Newmark’s “How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children”.

Robin Grille’s “Parenting for a Peaceful World” is also a fascinating and important read.

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