Some of my favourite and inspiring books:

The Continuum Concept by Jean Liedloff

“The Continuum Concept is an idea relating to human development proposed by Jean Liedloff in her book The Continuum Concept. According to Liedloff, in order to achieve optimal physical, mental and emotional development, human beings—especially babies—require the kind of experience to which their species adapted during the long process of their evolution. For infants, these include such experiences as:

  • The infant being placed immediately in the mother’s arms at birth, and from then on carried constantly in arms or otherwise in contact with someone, usually the mother, and allowed to observe (or nurse, or sleep) while the carrier goes about his or her business—until the infant begins creeping, then crawling on his/her own impulse, usually at six to eight months;
  • Co-sleeping in the parents’ bed, in constant physical contact, until leaving of their own volition (often about two years);

She suggests that when certain evolutionary expectations are not met as infants and toddlers, compensation for these needs will be sought, by alternate means, throughout life—resulting in many forms of mental and social disorders.

  • Sensing (and fulfilling) elders’ expectations that he or she is innately social and cooperative and has strong self-preservation instincts, and that he or she is welcome and worthy.
  • Breastfeeding “on cue”—nursing in response to the child’s body’s signals;
  • Having caregivers immediately respond to body signals (squirming, crying, etc.), without judgment, displeasure, or invalidation of the child’s needs, yet showing no undue concern nor making the child the constant center of attention;”

Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn

“[…]Unconditional Parenting addresses the ways parents think about, feel about, and act with their children. It invites them to question their most basic assumptions about raising kids while offering a wealth of practical strategies for shifting from “doing to” to “working with” parenting – including how to replace praise with the unconditional support that children need to grow into healthy, caring, responsible people. This is an eye-opening, paradigm-shattering book that will reconnect readers to their own best instincts and inspire them to become better parents.”

Non Violent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg

“NVC involves both communication skills that foster compassionate relating and consciousness of the interdependence of our well being and using power with others to work together to meet the needs of all concerned.

This approach to communication emphasizes compassion as the motivation for action rather than fear, guilt, shame, blame, coercion, threat or justification for punishment. In other words, it is about getting what you want for reasons you will not regret later. NVC is NOT about getting people to do what we want. It is about creating a quality of connection that gets everyone’s needs met through compassionate giving.[…]”

Hold Onto Your Kids: Why Parents Matter by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate

“This book is about the pivotal importance of children’s relationships to those responsible for them and the devastating impact in today’s society of competing attachments with peers. However it is much more than a book on peer orientation: it is about parenting with relationship in mind. This book restores parents to their natural intuition, confronting such relationship devastating devices as time-outs and using what children care about against them. Offering effective strategies for preserving and restoring the child-to-parent relationship, this book provides refreshing natural alternatives to today’s contrived methods of behaviour control. The content is relevant to parents of children of any age, from infants right through to adult children.[…]”

Diaper Free! The Gentle Wisdom of Natural Infant Hygiene by Ingrid Bauer

“[…]Rather than teaching a baby to eliminate into his or her intimate clothing and cleaning up after the fact, parents learn to listen and respond in the present moment to the baby’s needs and communication.

In this way, parents lovingly meet their baby’s vital needs, enhance bonding, deepen their communication, avoid rashes and diaper changing struggles, bypass conventional toilet training, save money and the environment, and significantly reduce diaper use.[…]”

Parenting From Your Heart by Inbal Kashtan

“Can you imagine parenting in a manner that promotes peace? Parents everywhere want to connect compassionately with their children, to show them love and offer guidance even in difficult moments. In this packed and practical booklet, Inbal Kashtan describes how the Nonviolent Communication (NVC) process can transform parenting to promote peace for generations to come. Parents, educators or anyone in relationship with children will find this booklet filled with insightful perspectives and practical skills that will greatly nurture your connection with the children in your life.

Start improving communication by focusing on emotional connection.Whether you’re parenting a teenager or an infant, the parenting help and guidance you’ll find in this booklet will transform your challenges and conflicts into opportunities to parent from your heart. Find NVC-based parenting tips and ten practical exercises to foster trust and improve cooperation even in the most trying circumstances. Learn how to make connection your top priority, share power in your family and inspire open dialogue that promotes mutual understanding.

Parenting From Your Heart empowers parents to:

  • Understand your own needs so you can choose how to respond
  • Motivate without the threat of punishment or the promise of reward
  • Move beyond power struggles by transforming your habitual responses
  • Hear the “yes” in your child’s “no”
  • Mediate between children to resolve the heart of conflict”

Playful Parenting by Lawrence Cohen

“Playful Parenting means joining children in their world of play, focusing on connection and confidence, giggling and roughhousing, and following your child’s lead.

[…] an award winning book about nurturing close connections, solving behavior problems, and encouraging children’s confidence.[…]”

Child Honouring by Raffi

“Child Honouring is a philosophy—a vision, an organizing principle, and a way of life—the children-first way of sustainability.

Child Honouring starts with three givens:

  • The early years are the most important—early childhood is the gateway to humane being.
  • We face planetary degradation that is unprecedented in scope and scale—a state of emergency that most endangers the very young, and that requires a remedy of equal scale.
  • This crisis calls for a systemic response in detoxifying the environments that make up the world of the child.

Child Honouring is a children-first approach to healing communities and restoring ecosystems. It views how we regard and treat our young as the key to building a humane and sustainable world. It is a novel idea—organizing society around the needs of its youngest members.”

Don’t Be Nice, Be Real: Balancing passion for self with compassion for others by Kelly Bryson

This book is so spot on. It’s hilariously written and a joy to read. It’s hard for me to put down (which isn’t actually that good of a thing when one is as tired as I am and reading before bed!!).

Kelly Bryson talks about how we do a disservice to ourselves and our loved ones by being “nice” when telling the truth about how we actually feel or what we need is what’s really important. While it’s not a parenting book per se he does touch on the harm in raising our children to be “nice” and “good”. He often cites Alfie Kohn and others… He encourages taking responsiblity for how we really feel and offers NVC type stratagies for communicating our real feelings and needs to ourselves and our loved ones. How can we fully be there for our loved ones if we don’t first tune with ourselves. There’s so much more to this book that I couldn’t possibly do it justice.   ~Annie

Punished by Rewards by Alfie Kohn

“[…]Rewards and punishments are just two sides of the same coin — and the coin doesn’t buy very much. What is needed, Kohn explains, is an alternative to both ways of controlling people. The final chapters offer a practical set of strategies for parents, teachers,  and managers that move beyond the use of carrots or sticks.
Seasoned with humor and familiar examples, Punished by Rewards presents an argument that is unsettling to hear but impossible to dismiss.”

Last Child In The Woods: Saving our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv

“[…]Richard Louv directly links the lack of nature in the lives of today’s wired generation—he calls it nature-deficit—to some of the most disturbing childhood trends, such as the rises in obesity, attention disorders, and depression.

Last Child in the Woods is the first book to bring together a new and growing body of research indicating that direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development and for the physical and emotional health of children and adults. More than just raising an alarm, Louv offers practical solutions and simple ways to heal the broken bond—and many are right in our own backyard.”

7 Responses to 11 Books that INSPIRE!

  1. Krista says:

    Chuckling at the fact that every one of these (minus the diaper free one and the Child Honoring one) is on my bookshelf. The only one I haven’t read yet is Playful Parenting, but will soon. I haven’t had a chance to read your review, I will when I get more time, but just wanted to say YES! It’s heartening to see others using these life transforming resources. These books have all moved me deeply in very lasting ways.

  2. Lindsay says:

    Thanks for the list Annie! I’ve read a lot of these but there are several here on my list of books I want to read, and a couple I’d never heard of that I am going to add to that list. I started reading Last Child in the Woods when I worked at the book store but never finished it and it’s been on my list for over 2 years now. It’s nice to know it’s worth reading. I was actually thinking of doing my own list, but it would be eerily similar to yours, minus the ones I haven’t read yet.

  3. Annie says:

    I really need to re read some of these books as some haven’t been read in a few years but YES is right! I love them all and they’ve really inspired my parenting and helped in my own personal growth! And it’s also true that they all complement each other. Nice to know others enjoy them as much as I do!


  4. paxye says:

    Needless to say… Great list!!

  5. Yes, almost all these are on my shelf, too. There are a couple I’ve never heard of though, and I am glad to have the chance to check them out.

    Thank you!

  6. Hi Annie, I’ve read a few, want to read a few more!

    I wonder, have you heard of the book called “The Hurried Child”? I read a review / article about it the other day and think I MUST read it. I’ve been thinking and talking about it ever since to whomever I come across!

    I think it will really be interesting and possibly inspiring too?

    here’s the link:

    I’d be interested to hear your take on this book too!

  7. Eliane says:

    What a wonderful list! I just google NVC and The Continuum Concept and this page was at the top of the list.

    I’m a life coach and have recently started writing a blog on parenting based on The Continuum Concept, as well as created a Facebook page called Parenting For Wholeness. If anyone is looking for information, inspiration and support in applying The Continuum Concept in their families, they can find some on my website.

    Loving that there are so many of us out there promoting this loving way of parenting!

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