The Best Child Development Books

As most of you know, my major was Family Studies with an emphasis in Human Development.
I really enjoyed learning the theories and principles behind human development, and I feel that it has really made a difference in how I view children's behavior.

The only downside is that I learned a lot about theories, but not a lot of application. I guess the application part comes when you attend grad school. I must have missed that memo when I declared my major. 
Anyway, I'm always looking for development books that incorporate principles I've learned and make it applicable to real life situations. 

Before I give you my personal list, I'm going to write up some suggestions when picking your own books to read:

Read the introduction and ask yourself if it seems that the author is biased or has extreme views.
Honestly, most researchers (and authors) are biased. Even if you find a study that may prove one thing, there is always another study in line waiting to disprove that same theory.

Always be skeptical and use your common sense.
Do not just adopt someone's interpretation of a study and believe it to be fact. Find that study and really read the sample, methods, and statistics. It is very eye opening, to say the least.

Be skeptical of an authors credentials. 
Sure, the author is a pediatrician, but when your child has a broken arm would you take them to a child psychologist? Probably not. They are both doctors, but they have specialized in different fields.
When choosing a book about child behavior look for an author who has actually studied behavior and specializes in it. Pediatricians do have some experience with human development classes, but not nearly as much as child psychologists.

I've found that in general, books written by child psychologists (or other behavioral/developmental specialists) are more towards the middle of the extremes and are less biased than other authors.

Focus on your child's development.
Instead of reading books specifically geared toward parenting, try to read books focused on how children develop. I believe this to be the best way to be a parent because you are more able to adapt your parenting to your child's age and personality instead of trying a one-size-fits-all type of parenting technique that can be more damaging than helpful. If you learn the principles behind behavior you are much more likely to respond in an appropriate way. On the other hand, parenting books are usually not as flexible and are not tailored to different ages and personalities.

Based on the criteria above, here are some books that I have read that are the least unbiased, most informative books geared toward people without a background in child development. 

 The thing I really like about the following books is that they don't go into the heated discussions of:
  • Sleep training
  • Stay at home mom vs. working mom
  • Nuclear (traditional) family vs. all other types of families
  • Types of parenting (authoritative, authoritarian, and permissive)
They simply rely on facts and principles and then let you as the parent make decisions based on your knowledge of your child's development and his/her personality.

I read this book and found that most of the studies and principles outlined were taught in my cognitive development class. One aspect I like is that it doesn't focus on proving why one thing is better than another, it focuses more on different situations and how you can improve them. This is especially helpful for parents who find themselves in circumstances that are beyond their control.
Overall, the book explains how your baby's brain develops, and gives simple activities and suggestions of how to help your child develop these important skills.

I just recently read this book and I love it! 
One thing I learned while studying language development is that the first two years (especially the first 10 months) and the most crucial for language development. This books explains how reading improves a child's vocabulary, and it also gives suggestions on how to read to your infant based on different stages of development.

This is the only parenting book that my professor for Parenting and Child Guidance class recommends. In fact, it is the textbook for the class. He is a child psychologist and has a lot of experience with research (he focuses on bullying, specifically). Anyway, he is legit. 
Have you ever wondered why little kids talk to themselves so often? Or why kids love to make up stories and play pretend? This book explains why kids talk to themselves (and how it is a mark of intelligence and budding language), it also explains how kids use make-believe to understand the world around them. 
This is truly an awesome book. My only suggestion is to read it slowly and take the time to really soak it up.

This is also one of my favorite books! I was required to read this for one of my classes, but I kept the book to use for later. It explains how most behavioral issues are communication problems between teacher/parent and child. For example, "Please sit nicely on your chair." Hello?! What does that even mean to a 5 year old? Have you taught them what it means to "sit nicely?"
A better form of communication would be, "Please sit with your bum on your chair and your hands on your lap."

I'm sure there are tons of great books out there that accurately address child development, but these are just ones that I have personally read and recommend. 
If you have any suggestions of books that you've read and enjoyed, please let me know!

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