Top Picks for Parenting Books

Paul Schwartz, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh, gives us his recommendations for the best books on raising children. His picks are prefect for first-time parents, as well as those raising kids at all age levels.

The Idiot's Guide to Parent a Teenager, Kate Kelly, 1996.

Someone said if men are from Mars and women are from Venus, teenagers are from another galaxy. Sound, practical advice for parents.

It Worked for Me! Sally Lee, Editor of Parents Magazine, 2001.

If you want tips, this is the book for you. Where else can you learn about what works for other parents than from other parents. Reading these books as a parent reminds me of when I was a boy collecting trading cards, looking through hundreds of cards saying "got that, got that, got that, need that!" When you get something you need and use it, all your looking is worthwhile. This book is like sitting in a parents' group with hundreds of other moms and dads sharing ideas about all ages of children and all issues encountered.

What To Expect (Series) First Year, Toddler Years, Arlene Eisenberg, Heidi Murkoff, Sandee Hathaway, 1996.

There are four books in this series and the last two, What To Expect - Infant and What To Expect - Toddler, pick up where Dr. Spock leaves off. Wonderfully comprehensive. These are unquestionably the best chronological (month by month) guides to what parents need to know about infancy and toddlerhood.

Your Child's Growing Mind, Jane Healy, 1994.

This is a terrific book that takes a complex subject area like neuropsychology and neuroanatomy and makes it readable for anyone regardless of educational level. Linking brain development to a how-to teaching guide for children can be an extremely difficult task. The author does this in a practical, readable format. If you are interested in linking your child's current development to correct educational practices for reading, math thinking and memory, this is an excellent book.

Our Last Best Shot, Laura Sessions Stepp, 2001.

There definitely is an abundance of books relating to early adolescence. This one fills the void of books for parents looking to understand the middle school years. There is so much written on early childhood and adolescence, it's nice to see an optimistically written guide for parents to what is probably the least understood period of development. Insightful and poignant.

Field Guild to the American Teenager, Michael Riera & Joseph DiPrisco, 2000.

Of all the new books on adolescence, I enjoyed this one tremendously. The authors have 40 years between them working with adolescents. They truly get you into the lifespace of the adolescent and then help you get out alive. Offering advice similar to one of Williams James quotes, "The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook."

101 Ways to Raise a Happy Toddler, Lisa McCourt, 2000.

This little book is a gem of loving advice. It is a how-to for parents on an emotional level. It encourages parents to use love, intuition and common sense to help build a trusting relationship and raise a happy, self-reliant child. The "twos" without the "terrible" prefix.

Paul Schwartz, Ph.D., is Professor of Psychology and Chairperson of the Division of Social Sciences at Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh.

Do you have any recommendations you would like to share with other parents? Or perhaps you have other questions about child development? You may direct your questions to Hudson Valley Parent at 174 South St., Newburgh NY 12550. Or you may reach Dr. Schwartz directly at