For almost three years I have reviewed and recommended great books for families to Meridian readers. While it may be useful for many readers to have some in-depth discussion of great books one-at-a-time, it also seems useful to offer a list of great books on family and developmental topics. So I have created a list in four vital areas: personal development, marriage, parenting, and development.

In this list I have generally not included the great books that are intended primarily for professionals. For example, the Handbook of Positive Psychology is an excellent book. But, weighing in at over 800 pages and $100 and with chapters that are more philosophical than practical, it is not the book in which you will find ready answers for your family dilemmas.

If you are looking for a great self-help book in some other area besides the four listed below, I encourage you to consult The Authoritative Guide to Self-Help Resources in Mental HealthBy Norcross and colleagues (2003, New York: Guilford).

Great Books for Personal Development

(* = highest recommendation)

*Authentic Happiness By Martin E. P. Seligman, 2002, New York: Simon & Schuster Superb book about the three levels of happiness.

*Anger Kills: 17 Strategies for Controlling the Hostility that Can Harm Your Health By Redford and Virginia Williams, 1998, New York: HarperCollins. Excellent book on overcoming anger.

Learned Optimism By Martin E. P. Seligman, 1991, New York: Alfred Knopf. Optimism may be a key to mental wellness.

Finding Flow By Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, 1997, New York: Basic Books. Good if you want to understand optimal human functioning.

What You Can Change and What You Can’t By Martin E. P. Seligman, 1993, New York: Fawcett. Seligman summarizes what therapies and medications are effective for various disorders.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People By Stephen R. Covey,1989, New York: Simon & Schuster. Seven habits for greater personal and interpersonal effectiveness.

Finding Your Own North Star By Martha Beck, 2002, New York: Crown Books. A fine book to help you in your journey to self-discovery and expression.

Great Books for Marriage

*The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work By John M. Gottman, 1999, New York: Crown. Excellent book with many measures and recommendations.

*Why Marriages Succeed or Fail and How You Can Make Yours Last By John Gottman, 1994, New York: Simon & Schuster. Describes three kinds of relationships and ways to make yours strong.

*Fanny’s Dream By Caralyn and Mark Buehner, 1996, New York: Dial. A delightful children’s book with a powerful message.

*Reconcilable Differences By Andrew Christensen and Neil S. Jacobson, 2000, New York: Guilford Press. Acceptance is important in maintaining a strong relationship.

Beyond the Myth of Marital Happiness By Blaine J. Fowers, 2000, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Insightful book about the importance of values in sustaining marriage.

The Intentional Family By William J. Doherty, 1997, Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley. Quality family life should not be left to chance.

Take Back Your Marriage By William J. Doherty, 2001, New York: Guilford Press. Many good ideas for protecting your marriage from outside demands.

The Divorce Remedy: The Proven 7-Step Program for Saving Your Marriage By Michele Weiner Davis, 2002, New York: Fireside Book. Divorce is often a poor solution to marriage problems.

Not “Just Friends” By Shirley P. Glass and Jean Coppock Staeheli, 2003, New York: Free Press. Affairs can be prevented or overcome.

Great Books for Parenting

*Between Parent and Child By Haim Ginott; UpdatedBy Alice Ginott and H. Wallace Goddard, 2003, New York: Three Rivers Press. The classic book on parenting and dealing with emotions.

*Between Parent and Teenager By Haim Ginott, 1969, New York: Macmillan. Classic book is out of print but available on the web (www.betweenparentandchild.com ) & used bookstores.

*Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child By John Gottman, 1998, New York: Simon & Schuster. This book describes four ways of dealing with children’s emotions.

*Santa Calls By William Joyce, New York: Geringer. What appears to be a children’s big holiday adventure is really about getting past sibling rivalry.

*Now One Foot, Now the Other By Tomie de Paola, 1980, New York: Putnam. Bobby learns to be sensitive to his grandfather who has had a stroke.

*Principles of Parenting By H. Wallace Goddard, Pamphlets available online at: http://www.humsci.auburn.edu/parent/ Individual units can be purchased for 10 cents eachBy writing to Publications. ACES. Duncan Annex. AU, AL 36849-5623. Especially recommended: Taking Care of the Parent; Being Understanding; Sending Messages of Love; Enjoying Each Child as an Individual; Something Better than Punishment.

Raising Courageous Kids By Charles A. Smith, 2004, Notre Dame, IN: Sorin Books. Full of ideas for cultivating practical heroism in children.

What Kids Need to Succeed: Proven, Practical Ways to Raise Good Kids By Peter L. Benson, Judy Galbraith, Pamela Espeland, 1998, Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit Publishing. Build developmental assets in order to assure children’s future.

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk By Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish, 1999, New York: William Morrow & Co. Practical ideas based on Ginott’s classic work.

Great Books for Development

*A Child is Born By Lennart Nilsson and Lars Hamberger, 2003, New York: Dell Publishing. Amazing photographs of in uterine development.

Dr. Spock’s Baby and Child Care By Benjamin Spock, 1997, New York: Pocket Books. Good book for basic care of young children.

Web Resources

If you are looking for good family information and not necessarily a book, you might try web sites developed by universities and extension systems. For example, our University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension web site has more than 60 articles on development, marriage, parenting and family life at <a href="http://www.


<hr class=’system-pagebreak’ />arfamilies.org/” target=”_blank”>www.arfamilies.org (then click on “Family Life”). The national Extension repository for family info is at the Children, Youth, and Family Education and Research Network ( www.cyfernet.org ).