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Barbara Meltz

Good parenting books for 2014

A couple questions from Boston.com readers:

Q. One of my New Year’s resolutions is to read one really good parenting book. What can you suggest? Oh, my kids are 4 and 7! Thanks.

MJ, Boston

Q. I’ve been dreading the preteen years since my daughter was born, almost 9 years ago. Now that we are actually there: I’d like to be as well-prepared as possible. Can you suggest some good books?

Sad Mama, Portsmouth, N.H.

A. Forgive me for lumping both questions together, but I couldn’t resist the opportunity to tout some of my favorite books. Read through my list, then feel free to add some of your own.


For you, MJ, if you’re looking for one book that speaks to both your children’s developmental stages, I’d be silly not to start with my very own book, “Put Yourself in Their Shoes, Understanding How Your Children See the World.” With each topic, it helps you understand what’s going on developmentally for your child no matter what his/her stage of development and then offers appropriate coping skills. Topics range from the everyday (getting your kids to pitch in around the house) to school (how many extracurriculars?) to not-so-everyday (environmental catastrophes, death of a grandparent).

I also recommend:

“The Power of Play: How Spontaneous, Imaginative Activities Lead to Happier, Healthier children,” by David Elkind. This may strike you as an unusual suggestion, considering your question is about parenting in general. Why do I include it? Because I’m worried about what I perceive to be an increased tendency by parents to endorse a screen-focused childhood. I’m seeing this at every stage of development, and I’m seeing it at all socioeconomic levels. Elkind, who made his name with “The Hurried Children,” opens his book with this line: “Children’s play — their inborn disposition for curiosity, imagination and fantasy — is being silenced in the high-tech, commercialized world we have created.” An exaggeration? I don’t think so.


Along the same lines, I love Nancy Carlsson-Paige’s book, “Taking Back Childhood: Helping Your Kids Thrive In a Fast-Paced, Media-Saturated, Violence-Filled World.” Her subtitle tells in all.

For more general books consider, “Great Kids: Helping Your Baby And Child Develop The 10 Essential Qualities For a Healthy, Happy Life,” by Stanley I. Greenspan; “Confident Parents, Remarkable Kids, 8 Principles For Raising Kids You’ll Love to Live With,” by Bonnie Harris; and “No, Why Kids of All Ages Need to Hear It and Ways Parents Can Say It,” by David Walsh.

For you, Sad Mama, consider:

“Talk to Me First: Everything You Need to Know to Become Your Kids’ Go-To Person About Sex,” by Deborah Roffman.

“Boy Crazy: Keeping Your Daughter’s Feet On the Ground When Her Head Is In the Clouds,” by Charlene C. Giannetti & Margaret Sagarese.

“Staying Connected to Your Teenager: How to Keep Them Talking to You and How to Hear What They’re Really Saying,” by Michael Riera.

Both of you may be interested in a book that is due out early next year, “All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood.” Instead of looking at how parents affect children, author Jennifer Senior looks at how children affect parents. It’s an interesting twist. I have an uncorrected manuscript that I’ve just started so I can’t rave yet, but it’s already being listed on Goodreads.


Thanks for the chance to share books. Please pass along your recommendations!

Barbara Meltz writes the Child Caring blog for Boston.com.