19 Powerful Books About Motherhood

Real Simple editors and readers weigh in on the books that have moved them most.

The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientists Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults, by Frances E. Jensen

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“It showed me that I'm not crazy and neither are my kids. That there is actually science—legitimate science!—to explain teenage behavior. And that things will get better.” —Kristin van Ogtrop, Editor of Real Simple

To buy: $17, amazon.com.


‪Babygate: How to Survive Pregnancy and Parenting in the Workplace, by Dina Bakst, Phoebe Taubman, and Elizabeth Gedmark

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“I'm not yet a mom, but I've started doing some research. I am not in a position to be a stay-at-home-mom, nor do I feel that's right for me, so I want to be informed of my rights, what laws protect expectant mothers in different states, and how to handle stigma and bias at work as a parent.” —Dana Bomba ‪

To buy: $17, amazon.com.


Toddlers are A**holes (Its Not Your Fault), by Bunmi Laditan

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“It reminded me that if I can't laugh at the messy, hard, imperfect parts of parenting young children that I will crack.” —Bridget Kavitski

To buy: $8, amazon.com.



‪Bringing Up Bébé, by Pamela Druckerman

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“I've never been a dreaming-of-motherhood sort of woman. Unfortunately, that idea doesn't really fit with our cultural narrative of parenthood, namely that it's the greatest, most wonderful and epic thing you'll ever experience and you'll love your kid from the moment you see that first ultrasound. In reality, parenthood is like most other things in life: there are amazing, wonderful moments, and there are terrible, horrible moments. Both of those are valuable.” —Rebecca Rawls Croskey

To buy: $11, amazon.com.


Beloved, by Toni Morrison

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“I will always think it is the most powerful story about mothers and daughters. No other novel I’ve ever read has really explored the depths mothers will go to protect their children. It’s a dark, but moving read.” —Sam Zabell, Realsimple.com associate editor

To buy: $10, amazon.com.


‪Secrets of the Baby Whisperer, by Tracy Hogg

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“As a first time mom, this book made me feel confident in the choices I made, during a time when many women struggle with anxiety, exhaustion, and self-doubt. It was an empowering way to begin my journey as a mother.” —Amy Brickell Mercer

To buy: $6, amazon.com.



Learning to Fly, by Roxanne Henke

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“The author shows how different parenting styles can make or break the future of your children. It is probably my favorite book of all time.” —Susan Kay Ashline

To buy: $8, amazon.com.


‪Waiting for Birdy, by Catherine Newman

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“It helped me laugh through tears and find a sense of peace that I wasn't going to ruin his life if I wasn't the perfect mom.” —Heather Medema‪

To buy: $13, amazon.com.


‪Bloom: Finding Beauty in the Unexpected, by Kelle Hampton

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“It’s a beautiful, honest, inspiring story. I have given this book to the women in my life; everyone should read this as it is pure love in its truest form.” —Bonnie Glenn

To buy: $15, amazon.com.



‪How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk, by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

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“Maybe people consider it advice genre but it empowered me enormously to read about what kids say and need.” —Monya McCarty

To buy: $9, amazon.com.


‪Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott

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“I've loved it since I was a little girl, but as I've grown older and become a mother, Marmee is my parenting idol! The guidance Marmee gives throughout the whole series reminds me that the most important thing is that I 'show up' and try every day, even if I'm still learning.” —Jessie Lindell‪

To buy: $13, amazon.com.


‪The Happiest Baby on the Block, by Harvey Karp

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“It isn't really about motherhood, but was a lifesaver with all three of my kids, but especially my first. It made me feel like I was succeeding in the new world of motherhood when I had zero idea what I was doing. If I met Dr. Karp today I would give him a huge hug.” —Janna Ajam

To buy: $12, amazon.com.



‪Operating Instructions, by Anne Lamott

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“It's the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about the first year of motherhood and all of its vertiginous joy and horror. She nails the highs and lows and tells it like it is.” —Lori Leibovich, RealSimple.com editor

To buy: $11, amazon.com.


How to Raise Children at Home in Your Spare Time, by Marvin J. Gersh

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“I had my first baby in 1973. I was an only child with no family nearby. I had no idea what to do with an infant. Dr. Marvin Gersh's book was a lifesaver. Written with a sense of humor, it really gave me peace of mind and confidence!” —Joyce Subjack

To buy: $8, amazon.com.


‪If Life Is a Bowl of Cherries, What am I Doing in the Pits? by Erma Bombeck

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“There was one story in there about which child she loved the most. It was the one who needed her to at that moment. Love her.” —Kim G. Fenner‪

To buy: $8, amazon.com.



Evanthia's Gift: Book One in The Gift Saga, by Effie Kammenou

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“It's a multigenerational story (written by my own mother!) that follows characters from the 1940s to present day. It touches upon the beautiful bond between a mother and daughter from birth, dealing with single motherhood, and the good and difficult times in life. The beauty in it is that it shows the role reversal between a mother caring for a child, and a child growing to be an adult and caring for her mother in her elderly years.” —Alexa Speyer, designer

To buy: $20, amazon.com.


‪Children Are Wet Cement, by Anne Ortlund

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‪”It made me realize the power of influence.” —Joann Hickman

To buy: $15, amazon.com.


The Tao of Motherhood, by Vimala McClure

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“It's so warm, reassuring, peaceful and calming—in the mostly beautiful but changing weather of motherhood, it's my guiding light. It never ceases to help me step away, see perspective and be better when I return to my children's sides.” —Sarah Copeland, food director

To buy: $13, amazon.com.



Baby Love, by Maud Bryt

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“Out of print, but I still buy it for the moms-to-be in my life whenever I can find it. It’s a very peaceful way in to motherhood, and it imprinted something on me 21 years ago that really stuck.” —Danielle Claro, deputy editor

To buy: $5, amazon.com.