The Greatest "Parenting" Books of All Time

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This list represents a comprehensive and trusted collection of the greatest books. Developed through a specialized algorithm, it brings together 280 'best of' book lists to form a definitive guide to the world's most acclaimed books. For those interested in how these books are chosen, additional details can be found on the rankings page.

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The "Parenting" category of books encompasses a wide range of literature that provides guidance, advice, and support to parents in raising their children. These books cover a variety of topics, including child development, discipline, communication, education, and health. They aim to help parents navigate the challenges of parenthood and provide them with the tools and knowledge necessary to raise happy, healthy, and well-adjusted children. Whether you are a new parent or an experienced one, the "Parenting" category offers a wealth of resources to help you become the best parent you can be.

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  1. 1. Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton

    "Cry, the Beloved Country" is a novel about a black Anglican priest from South Africa's rural Natal region who embarks on a journey to Johannesburg in search of his sister and son. The priest grapples with the racial injustice and social inequality of apartheid-era South Africa, while his son becomes involved in political activism and is wrongfully accused of a crime. The novel explores themes of love, fear, and social justice, while highlighting the destructive effects of apartheid on the human spirit and the South African landscape.

  2. 2. Way of All Flesh by Samuel Butler

    The novel follows the life of Ernest Pontifex, from his birth in the early 19th century until his middle age, and his struggle against the restrictive morality of Victorian England. Raised in a stiflingly oppressive household by his hypocritical clergyman father and submissive mother, Ernest eventually rebels against his upbringing, leading to his imprisonment for a minor crime. Upon his release, he rejects his past life and religious beliefs, eventually finding happiness and success as a writer. The novel provides a scathing satire of Victorian-era attitudes towards religion and family life.

  3. 3. The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care by Benjamin Spock

    This book is a comprehensive guide to child rearing, offering practical advice and information on a wide range of topics, including feeding, sleeping, health, discipline, and psychological development. It emphasizes a flexible, common-sense approach to parenting, encouraging parents to trust their own instincts and knowledge of their child. The book also discusses the importance of treating children as individuals and fostering their independence and self-confidence.

  4. 4. The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

    "The Yearling" is a coming-of-age story set in the late 19th century, in the scrubland of Florida. It follows a young boy who adopts an orphaned baby deer and nurtures it into adulthood. As the deer grows, it begins to cause problems for the boy's family, who are struggling to survive as subsistence farmers. The boy is eventually forced to choose between his love for the deer and his responsibility to his family, leading to a heartbreaking decision that marks his transition into adulthood.

  5. 5. The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother by James McBride

    This book is a moving memoir that tells the story of a biracial man raised in a housing project in Brooklyn by his white, Jewish mother. The narrative alternates between the author's perspective and his mother's, providing a nuanced view of issues related to race, religion, and identity. The author's mother, a Polish immigrant, married a black man in the 1940s and raised twelve children in the midst of poverty and racial tension. Despite the hardships, she instilled in her children the importance of education and self-reliance. The book is a tribute to the strength, resilience, and love of this remarkable woman.

  6. 6. Duke of Deception by Geoffrey Wolff

    "Duke of Deception" is a memoir that provides a vivid account of a son's relationship with his eccentric, deceitful father. The father, a con man who lived a life of fabricated grandeur and prestige, constantly moved his family around the country to escape debts and legal troubles. Despite his father's flaws, the author remembers him with a mixture of affection, resentment, and admiration, providing a complex portrait of a deeply flawed yet charismatic individual. The book explores themes of deception, identity, and the often complicated bonds of family.

  7. 7. A Home at the End of the World by Michael Cunningham

    The narrative revolves around the lives of two boyhood friends navigating through their complicated lives in the 1980s. One of them is a bisexual man mourning the loss of his lover to AIDS, and the other is a straight man who's been in love with his friend since childhood. Their lives intertwine with a bohemian woman who dreams of having a child. The three of them form an unconventional family, exploring the complexities of relationships, love, and the concept of home.

  8. 8. The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson

    "The Argonauts" is a genre-bending memoir that chronicles the author's romantic relationship with her fluidly gendered partner, their journey to become parents, and their experiences with queer family-making. The narrative intertwines personal anecdotes with critical theories on gender, sexuality, and identity, challenging traditional notions of family, motherhood, and love. It offers a powerful exploration of desire, limitations, and the possibilities of language, pushing the boundaries of what memoirs can do and be.

  9. 9. Tisha by Robert Specht

    "Tisha" is a biographical novel based on the true story of a young woman who moves to the Alaskan wilderness in the 1920s to become a teacher. The protagonist faces numerous challenges including harsh weather, isolation, and cultural differences, but remains steadfast in her commitment to educate the children in her care. The story also explores her fight against racial prejudice in the community, as well as her love affair with a half-Native man.

  10. 10. Grief Observed by C. S. Lewis

    This book is an intimate exploration of a man's grief after the loss of his wife. The author delves deeply into the nature of grief, faith, and love, questioning his own beliefs and grappling with profound feelings of loss and sorrow. With raw honesty, he shares his journey through the various stages of grief, ultimately finding a renewed sense of faith and understanding of God's role in human suffering.

  11. 11. Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity by Andrew Solomon

    This book explores the experiences of families accommodating children with physical, mental and social disabilities and differences. The author examines various conditions such as deafness, dwarfism, Down syndrome, autism, schizophrenia, disability, prodigiousness, transgender, and criminality. The book delves into the challenges, struggles, but also the triumphs, of these families and how they find profound meaning in their differences. It's a comprehensive study of identity, love, and acceptance.

  12. 12. Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott

    This book is a candid, humorous account of a single mother's first year with her newborn son. The author shares her journey through the highs and lows of motherhood, dealing with everything from sleep deprivation and breastfeeding struggles to profound love and joy. The narrative also explores her personal struggles with addiction, her complicated relationship with her own mother, and her quest for faith and spirituality. The book serves as a raw and honest chronicle of the author's transformation and growth during her first year of motherhood.

  13. 13. Lit: A Memoir by Mary Karr

    "Lit: A Memoir" is a moving and often humorous account of the author's journey through alcoholism, a failed marriage, and a struggle with faith. The author details her descent into alcoholism, her tumultuous relationship with her husband, and her eventual recovery with the help of a spiritual awakening. Throughout the narrative, the author's love for her son and her desire to give him a better life serve as a powerful motivation for her to overcome her struggles and find redemption.

  14. 14. The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Family's Century of Art and Loss by Edmund de Waal

    This book is a family memoir that traces the journey of a collection of miniature Japanese sculptures, called netsuke, through generations of a wealthy Jewish family. The narrative delves into the family's rise to prominence in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, their survival during the Nazi regime, their post-war struggles, and their eventual decline. The author uses the netsuke as a lens to explore the themes of art, loss, and family legacy.

  15. 15. If: A Father's Advice to His Son by Rudyard Kipling

    This book is a collection of paternal wisdom, offering advice and guidance to a young man navigating through life's challenges. The author shares insights on various life aspects such as integrity, humility, patience, loss, and triumph. The book serves as a timeless guide to personal development, moral integrity, and character-building, emphasizing the importance of these virtues in achieving success and fulfillment in life.

  16. 16. Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus by John Gray

    This self-help book offers insight into the fundamental differences between men and women, suggesting they might as well be from different planets. It explores how these differences can create misunderstandings and conflicts in relationships, and provides practical advice on how to overcome these issues. The book emphasizes the importance of acknowledging and respecting these differences to foster better communication, understanding, and ultimately, stronger relationships.

  17. 17. Growing Up by Russell Baker

    "Growing Up" is a memoir that recounts the author's experiences growing up in America during the Great Depression and World War II. The author shares his journey from a poverty-stricken childhood in Virginia to becoming a successful journalist in New York. The narrative is filled with engaging anecdotes about his family, particularly his strong-willed mother, and the struggles they faced during these challenging times. The memoir is an exploration of the author's family history, personal growth, and the socio-political landscape of mid-20th century America.

  18. 18. Forever: A Novel by Pete Hamill

    This novel follows the story of Cormac O'Connor, an Irish immigrant who arrives in New York in 1740. After his parents are killed by an English lord, he vows revenge and is granted immortality by an African healer, on the condition that he never leaves the island of Manhattan. The story spans three centuries, as Cormac experiences New York's transformation from a colonial outpost to a modern metropolis, while he waits for his chance to avenge his parents.

  19. 19. A Child Called 'It' by Dave Pelzer

    This harrowing memoir recounts the horrific childhood of a boy who was brutally abused by his alcoholic mother. The young boy is treated as a slave, starved, beaten, and tortured both physically and emotionally. Despite his dire circumstances, he manages to survive through resilience and the dream of a better life. The book is a stark portrayal of child abuse and the indomitable spirit of a child's will to survive.

  20. 20. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman

    This book explores the clash between a small county hospital in California and a refugee family from Laos over the care of Lia Lee, a Hmong child diagnosed with severe epilepsy. The book delves into the contrasting perspectives of Lia's family, who see her condition as a spiritual matter, and her doctors, who perceive it as a medical issue. This cultural divide leads to a tragic misunderstanding, highlighting the challenges of navigating a complex healthcare system while maintaining cultural beliefs and traditions.

  21. 21. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

    This memoir recounts the unconventional, poverty-stricken upbringing the author and her siblings had at the hands of their deeply dysfunctional parents. Their father, an alcoholic, and their mother, an eccentric artist, frequently neglected them, leaving them to fend for themselves. Despite their parents' personal struggles, they instilled a love of learning and a sense of self-sufficiency in their children, which helped them to escape their chaotic home life and build successful lives as adults.

  22. 22. The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For by Alison Bechdel

    "The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For" is a compilation of comic strips that provide a satirical take on contemporary lesbian life, politics, and social issues. The book is a blend of personal and political content, focusing on the lives of a diverse group of women, their relationships, and their struggles. The comic strips provide commentary on various aspects of the LGBTQ+ experience, including identity, community, and activism.

  23. 23. The Broken Cord by Michael Dorris

    This book is a poignant memoir of a single man who adopts a three-year-old American Indian boy, only to discover several years later that his son suffers from fetal alcohol syndrome, a condition that was not well understood at the time. The narrative chronicles the man's journey to understand and cope with his son's condition, while also shedding light on the devastating effects of alcohol abuse on unborn children. The book also delves into the broader social issues surrounding Native American communities and the systemic problems that contribute to alcoholism among these populations.

  24. 24. A Life's Work: On Becoming a Mother by Rachel Cusk

    The book is a candid exploration of the author's personal journey into motherhood. It delves into the physical and emotional changes, societal expectations, and the profound identity shift that comes with becoming a parent. The narrative confronts the romanticized notions of motherhood, revealing the often unspoken challenges and complexities. It also explores the profound love and connection that forms between a mother and her child.

  25. 25. The Light of the World by Elizabeth Alexander

    "The Light of the World" is a deeply moving memoir about the author's life with her husband, an Eritrean-born chef and painter, their love story, and the grief and healing she experiences after his sudden death. The book is a reflection on their family life, their shared passion for art, and the author's journey through the pain of loss. It's a poetic tribute to a life well-lived and the enduring power of love.

Reading Statistics

Click the button below to see how many of these books you've read!


If you're interested in downloading this list as a CSV file for use in a spreadsheet application, you can easily do so by clicking the button below. Please note that to ensure a manageable file size and faster download, the CSV will include details for only the first 500 books.