Age of Opportunity- Paul David Tripp-- ok, even if teenage-hood is MILES away, as in, you don't even have a bona fide toddler yet, you probably already are being told to dread the teenage years. Everyone, from your cashier to your nice old neighbor are saying "he's cute now, but oh just wait until he's 16!" This kind of attitude, of dreading adolescence and expecting a rebellious, disrespectful, identity-crisising son or daughter is a self-fulfilling prophecy... AND it's unBiblical. Most of the disciples were teens when they were called to follow our Lord as His closest friends (only Peter & Jesus were old enough to pay the temple tax in Matt. 17:27). Anyway, this book is a breath of fresh air of training children so that you actually enjoy their teen years as much as any others.
Heart of Anger, The: Practical Help for Prevention and Cure of Anger in Children- Lou Priolo-- how many of our children's (and our own!) chronic "behavior problems" stem from sinful anger? Pretty much all of them... This book first of all helped me to examine my own heart for anger, and bring IT under the Lord's control, and then out of that to help my daughter. It is excellent in listing ways that we often unwittingly provoke our little ones to anger.
How to Raise a Healthy Child in Spite of Your Doctor- Robert S. Mendelsohn-- this inclusive guide to childhood illness & treatment is written by an experienced family physician who's delivered and treated thousands of children over the past few decades of practice. His basic premise is that parents are fully capable of treating 90% of their children's illnesses at home, not only well, but better than a doctor. This book will help you know when your child needs help beyond what you can give, and how to treat most illnesses at home. He explains that medical school trains doctors to want to meet their patient's parents expectations by intervening, even when rest and time are the best cure. Get it, read it, be informed, and learn all sorts of ways to ease your child's suffering even when there's nothing that can be done medically (like during a cold). He covers everything from earaches to teething to vaccines to viruses to infections to the BIG diseases like meningitis that definitely DO need a doctor's help.
One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are- Ann Voskamp--not usually a conventional "parenting" selection, I know, but I think the perspective it brings, that of intentionally rejoicing in the mundane, the difficult, and the easily overlooked, is crucial to joy-filled, Christ-exalting parenting. It's made a huge difference in my life, that's for sure.
Protecting the Gift: Keeping Children and Teenagers Safe (and Parents Sane)- Gavin de Becker-- How do we teach our children to be smart in scary situations and stay safe, yet not be quivering balls of cowardice? What if we are actually far more equipped to sense danger and to instinctively know how to protect ourselves than we know? This book premises that fear is actually an instinct, a gift that can keep children safe when we know how to use it. This book teaches you how to talk through danger with your kids, what to teach them to do when lost, and how to recognize predators & dangerous situations... all the while making your children MORE confident and bold rather than afraid & timid (because knowledge really is power). Especially critical for parents of girls to read!!
Read-Aloud Handbook, The- Jim Trelease-- Every parent can home-educate, no matter where their kids get their grades, with one very simple tool: reading aloud. This book's first section will convince you beyond any shadow of doubt just how precious and vital reading aloud to your children is. The second section recommends books to be read aloud for various ages. Another life-changer for me!
Real Food for Mother and Baby- Nina Planck-- this book will be helpful in laying the foundation for a lifestyle of health, starting before your children are even born (if you add children to your family naturally). Even if you meet your children through adoption, this book will help you help your children maximize their potential through healthy eating. The best guide to maternity, infant & child eating I've ever read. (Chuck '"What to Expect When You're Expecting's" nutritional guides and buy this one instead.)
Shepherding a Child's Heart- Tedd Tripp-- my favorite help in knowing how to lovingly, Biblically discipline and train my daughter. This book revolutionized my own family growing up, and still guides how I want to interact with my kids as they grow. (For those with small children, I'd highly recommend Don't Make Me Count to Three! by Ginger Plowman, which is a user-friendly version of Shepherding for preschoolers...and don't worry, it has nothing to do with counting to three.)
Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth, The- Henci Goer-- if you are pregnant, go get this book now. Seriously. Click the link & order it off Amazon ASAP. Preferably along with Nina Planck's book. If you're not pregnant and don't plan to be, this still should be in your Top 10, because it teaches non-medical folks (like us) how to discern what is routinely done and what is beneficial & safe. Is an induction at 40 weeks medically sound? What about the expected epidural? Is VBAC safer than repeat C-sections? Is pitocin worth its risks? This book doesn't answer the questions for you; it presents research and lets you make your own decisions, which is EXACTLY how you want to be in the habit of evaluating every medical recommendation you come across, from sticking rice in your baby's milk for reflux, to vaccinating starting at birth, to choosing to breast or bottle feed, to smearing preventative antibiotics on your newborn's eyes, to switching your 2-year-old to low-fat milk.
Well-Trained Mind, The: A Guide to Classical Education at Home- Susan Wise Bauer & Jessie Wise -- best book on education I've read. Even if you are intentionally choosing public school or private schooling for your child(ren), you can use this book to ensure that their minds are getting full doses of what they need to thrive.
A few runners-up...
Ina May's Guide to Childbirth- Ina May Gaskin- excellent if you are pregnant or planning to be (or on helping someone in labor). Not quite as applicable to adoptive parents.
The Vaccine Guide: Risks and Benefits for Children and Adults Randall Neudstaedter-- the best look at vaccines of the many I've read; I love the book's layout: it takes each vaccine on its own, addresses its risks, its benefits, gives two or three suggested routes (such as 1. do the vaccine at this age, 2. don't do the vaccine but supplement with this or 3. do the vaccine, with this brand), and then has pages of references. Even if you know you want to "do whatever the doctor says," read this. If you are traveling and need shots, read this. I love that this book lets you take it one shot at a time.
Child Training Tips; what I wish I'd known when my children were young- Reb Bradley-- my favorite sections are those on "How to tell when correction has been effective" and "Signs of passive rebellion." Again, really helpful to those of us with preschoolers/toddlers. Well-rounded, with plenty of emphasis on the need positively teach and not just correct.
The Myth of Adolescence: Raising Responsible Children in an Irresponsible Society- David Black-- great in evaluating what the Bible says about "teenagers."
Celebrations of Faith- Randy & Lisa Wilson-- this little book is extremely helpful at being intentionally God-honoring in all our parenting, with a special emphasis on holiday & other traditions. Great perspective even if you don't use a single one of their recommendations.
Don't Make Me Count to Three!- Ginger Plowman-- as stated above, this is my favorite for parents with young children. If you are intimidated by Shepherding Your Child's Heart or are struggling to know how to apply it, pick this one up. It's a short read (or re-read), and so so applicable.
What books would you have added? Ryan's recommendation was "Don't Overthink Parenting" by Don't Read This Book, hah.