Books for parents

Said the gal who writes a parenting column: “What you REALLY need to know about parenting cannot be found in a book, blog or magazine.” 

If you follow me here at Toddler Time, you know I encourage readers to parent individualistically. We all have different levels of patience, different ideas about how long to breastfeed, different backgrounds and — even amongst our own collections of offspring — children with different personalities. 

I may point out universal truths and share a few tricks I’ve learned along the way, but I wholeheartedly believe in instinctive parenting. 

You do you.

Though I’m against clinging to books for answers — as if parenting were possible by formula — I am in favor of books in general and believe they’re an important part of the toddler years. 

So, without further ado, I present my picks for toddler parent reading:

Toddlers Are A**holes: It’s Not Your Fault 

How could I not recommend this to you, Toddler Parent? I believe there’s comfort in recognition and Honest Toddler blogger Bunmi Laditan’s take on this stage brings me pure, belly-busting laughter. Here’s to misguided attempts at eating out as a family and saying things you never thought you’d hear yourself say. 

My own personal best was, “Do not lick Target. Yes, I mean ALL of Target.” 

Solidarity, my friends.


My kids have hidden this book from me, because it makes me weep uncontrollably — but in a really good way, and only when I read it out loud to my children. Author Alison McGhee, a Minnesota parent herself, pinpoints the combo of exhilaration and torturous heartache in watching your kids grow up. 

The pretty pictures will keep your kids entertained, until they decide to hide the book from you. 

The Book With No Pictures 

B.J. Novak — Ryan from The Office — wrote this gem. Toddler Parent, you’re right in the small window of time in which this book really works. Illustration free, the entertainment value relies upon making the grown-up read and say ridiculous things.

Perfect for older toddlers.

Kitten’s First Full Moon 

Though I feigned exhaustion over reading this book 70-some times in a previous edition of Toddler Time, I really love this book because it’s so enjoyable on repeat mode. It’s a simple story with hidden nuggets about perspective, imagination, adventure, home and love. And the black-and-white illustrations are adorable.

Beautiful Ruins

Because it’s not ALL about Kitten and Corduroy and Little Quack. In the thick of the spilled-milk, psychotic-playdate, classes-at-The-Little-Gym lifestyle, you deserve an escape. 

This frothy, yet well-crafted novel explores the idea of lost love while taking you on a journey along the Italian Coast and through iconic Hollywood. Breathtaking and displacing, it’s an ideal break book for busy parents.

Go the F**k to Sleep 

The title of this popular — satirically lyrical — international bestseller says it all. Samuel L. Jackson fantastically narrates the audio version. Also look for the follow-up, You Have to F***ing Eat (audio version read by Stephen Fry). 

Making the ‘Terrible’ Twos Terrific 

I hesitantly add this one to the list for those who can’t help but crave parenting dogma. 

This was given to me after the birth of my second child, as my firstborn hit “the twos” with a vengeance. 

I don’t remember every piece of advice and I don’t recommend taking ANY parenting book word-for-word to heart. 

I do remember the author — nationally syndicated parenting columnist, author and psychologist John Rosemondhas a sense of humor, humility and a basic message every parent can understand: The parent is boss (and this is actually what the child craves), and toddlers are — by nature — egomaniacs. 

Just good perspective, if you take it as that. If your bedtimes don’t look like Rosemond’s suggestions … so what. 

Jen Wittes is a freelance writer and mother of two who lives in St. Paul. Learn more about her work at Send questions or comments to