3 Great Parenting Books for Summer

Today I’m sharing three parenting books that have helped shape the way I approach parenting. If you’re looking for some summertime reading, I recommend these to kick off a peaceful, playful summer.



ScreamFree Parenting – Hal Edward Runkel

This was the book that initially helped me get my anxiety under control as a new mom. In fact, I enjoyed the book so much that I became a Certified ScreamFree Parent and Marriage Leader by training with Hal at his headquarters in Atlanta.


The main message is to stop trying to control your kids and focus on controlling yourself instead. Hal talks about why learning to calm down is so important in creating the relationships we desire with our kids, and how “emotional reactivity” is our biggest enemy as parents. Yelling, lecturing, checking out, and similar tactics actually bring about the very outcomes we try to avoid.


A lot of what I teach in my classes can be traced back to concepts in this book.


I’ve written about some other ScreamFree principles in these posts:

Don’t Pick Up the Gauntlet

You Can’t Make Me

Oh, the Pause-abilities!


Playful Parenting – Lawrence J. Cohen

I used to play with Marissa for hours on end. But there came a time when she would ask me to play with her and I just didn’t feel like it. I felt tired, distracted, and plain lazy. Then I found this book.


Lawrence Cohen explains how play is a child’s main way of communicating and learning. He describes specific ways that parents can use playfulness to connect with their kids, help them recover from emotional distress, and bring out feelings that may be difficult to talk about.


This book also taught me new ways of using play to foster a sense of competence in my kids, and reminded me to be my silly, goofy self more often.



Check out these posts for more on being a playful parent:

Put More Play in Your Day

Fantasy Play Works Like Magic


Simplicity Parenting – Kim John Payne and Lisa M. Ross

It’s hard to stay calm and connected to your child when either of you feels distracted, overwhelmed, or stressed out.


Kim John Payne and Lisa M. Ross explain why TOO MUCH — too much clutter, too many activities, too many choices — actually limits kids and your connection with them. They discuss why routines and schedules are so important, and how they make life easier for you. They also examine how to filter out the adult world as much as possible to allow kids the freedom to enjoy childhood.



Read more about routines and simplicity here:

Do You Make This Routine Mistake with Your Kids?

Sunshine, Swimming, and Structure: Diving into Summer Routines

School Routines: Morning, Afternoon, and Bedtime

De-Cluttering and Organizing with Ilene Becker

How to Give Your Kids Holiday Gifts Without Adding More Clutter to Your Home


Please note: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a tiny percentage of whatever you purchase. If you’d rather go directly to Amazon and buy from them, that’s totally cool.


Have you read any of these or other great parenting books lately? Please leave a comment and let us know. I’m always looking for new resources!


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Showing 6 comments
  • Lori

    I mostly disliked scream free parenting but the “calm yourself down” message resonated so strongly for me- probably the first time a book I didn’t enjoy reading and didn’t find that well written ironically was pretty life changing for me. And even that message isn’t that “original “ but the way he put it made perfect sense. I especially had a real problem with his recommendation about avoiding eye contact. I got his general point and strongly disagreed with implementing it in that way. I haven’t read the other books and agree that play is the business of childhood. My son and I bond over books but we don’t play enough – my fault. When I was a teacher I loved the book Summerhill which focused on play based learning. Thanks for the recommendations!

  • Clare Greig

    I want to read them all. Especially the playful one. Thanks so much Pam. I so often read business books these days and I used to love reading parenting books.

  • Nicholette von Reiche

    Love these recommendations. Thank you Pam.

    • Pam Howard

      My pleasure, Nicholette. If you get a chance to read any of them, come back and let us know what you thought!

  • Kelly - Project Me

    Those books all sound FABULOUS! Thanks for the recommendations. I’m a big fan of Dr. Laura Markham’s “Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids” and also “Buddhism for Mothers of School Aged Children: Finding calm in the chaos of school years”. Both books are excellent!

    • Pam Howard

      Hi Kelly! I’ve read Dr. Markham’s book, but not the other one. It’s going on my list! Thank you:)

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