Books for Raising Boys :: This Mom has Read Almost All of Them

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books for parenting boys

Let’s face it, raising boys is foreign territory for moms. We love them fiercely, for sure, but sometimes we don’t understand them or what they are going through and the unique challenges they face as boys. Mostly, this is because we were never boys (it’s much easier to relate to daughters, especially when those tween/teen years hit) and also because it’s just a different world than when we were growing up — a world that is becoming increasingly difficult for our boys to thrive in.

I want to do right by my son (don’t we all?), and I want him to grow up to be a great man. A defender, a provider, a leader. I want him to defy this culture that is stifling our boys, trying to fit them all into the same shaped mold and telling them that their God-given characteristics are wrong.

When I’m zoned in on a topic, I like to dive into a good book or two (or ten) on the subject. My goal with this post is to give you a brief synopsis on all the books about raising boys I have read to help you decide which ones you want to read (in case you don’t want to read ten books on the subject.)

Books for Raising Boys

No matter your parenting situation — stable two-parent home, split-family, single mom — this list is for you.

The Collapse of Parenting by Dr. Leonard Sax

As the name implies, this one is not boy-specific. It is a must-read for parents. Dr. Sax knows what he’s talking about when it comes to parenting tactics that work and pitfalls in society that are ruining parenting. It addresses parenting issues that are unique to the times we are living in, things parents of previous generations didn’t have to deal with. I’ve seen it on the shelves in parenting sections of multiple libraries, so it’s easy to pick up. Go read it. It will change the way you parent (even if you think you’re already doing a good job!)

Boys Adrift by Dr. Leonard Sax

The amazing and brilliant Dr. Sax also has a book just for raising our boys. It covers everything from a boy’s innate need to work, protect, and be active (and how you can properly nurture that); to how the educational system is failing our boys; to how video games, environmental factors, and misuse/overuse of ADHD medication is damaging our boys. I put this one on the “must-read” list also. Dr. Sax has a way of talking about all the technical “psychological” stuff without needing a degree to understand what he’s saying.

Dr. Sax also has a book on raising girls called, Girls on the Edge. His other book, Why Gender Matters is on my “to be read” list (more of that list at the end of the post).

Bringing up Boys by Dr. James Dobson

This falls on my must-read list also. It covers a lot of the same topics as Boys Adrift does but from a biblical/godly standpoint.  I appreciate Dr. Sax being able to take the non-religious standpoint, but I also like Dr. Dobson’s book. While Dr. Sax talks about those characteristics boys seem to have that help them be good men, Dr. Dobson reminds us that those are God-given characteristics. God made little boys to be rough and tumble by nature, strong-willed, curious, and sometimes daring because he knew that they would need to grow up to be strong and brave and to persevere when things get tough. That little-boy energy that exhausts you terribly is God’s way of giving him endurance for hard work when he grows up. This book gives practical tips on how to guide our boys to being the man God intends them to be. 

Dr. Dobson also wrote Bringing Up Girls.

The Boy Crisis by Warren Farrell, PhD and John Gray, PhD

This one covered a lot of the same things as Boys Adrift but in a far more technical way and not as easy to read. I wouldn’t put this on the must-read list as long as you read Dr. Sax or Dr. Dobson. The authors definitely knows what they’re talking about and I don’t disagree, but I found myself skimming a lot of this one. Also, I felt like their audience was dads — they seemed to be speaking to them specifically in a lot of parts. So if Dad wants a book to read, you might hand this one of to him while you read some of the others, and then you can compare notes.

Warren Farrell has a TED Talk on The Boy Crisis on Youtube that I have saved to watch when I get a chance. 

Your Boy: Raising a Godly Son in an Ungodly World by Vickie Courtney

This one had me right from the intro as the author talked about just assuming all her future children would be girls and she’d have a lifetime of pink bows, frilly dresses, and tea parties in her future. Then she talked about how her life turned upside-down (in a good way!) the moment her first child, a son, was put in her arms! That was totally me! I had never entertained the thought of having boy children, and now I couldn’t imagine my life any other way! This book gets really personal about moms raising boys. She even addresses moms of sons who don’t have a father in the home — and not in the “boys need a strong father figure because . . .” way because we all know that boys need good male role models — but in a very encouraging “here’s how you can fill that void in your son’s life” way. 

This books dives deep into the world of the teenage boy and how moms can navigate that strange place and help — not hinder — our boys. This book has the advantage of being written by a MOM, unlike the others on the list that are all written by men. We can relate to the author as she speaks wisdom down to our very cores as mothers. This book was written in the early 2000s, so some of the information is a little dated (even though the 2000s weren’t that long ago!) She talks about the dangers of MySpace (boy, how much longer that section would be in today’s social-media-driven world!), and she mentions the direction some things were heading with internet and media and kids — flash-forward to now and you might call her a prophet because we are there.

Full disclosure, I’m not finished with this one yet; I’m about mid-way through “Part 3: Hijacking Biblical Manhood”. But I know I won’t be disappointed, and I would definitely put this one on the must-read list for moms!

Raising Boys by Steve Biddulph

This is one I found myself skimming as it pretty much echoes parts and pieces from other books. But that’s not to say it’s not a good book. If you can’t get your hands on others on the list but this one is available, I would suggest it!

With a section on “The Three Stages of Boyhood” (breaking it down into birth to six, six to thirteen, and fourteen to adult) and straightforward chapter titles like “A Revolution in Schooling”, “Boys and Sports”, and “Developing a Healthy Sexuality” and appendix sections on “Practical Notes on ADHD” and “How to Tell Whether a School is a Good One for Boys,” this book is like a handy reference guide. Also, at the end of each chapter is “In a Nutshell,” which sums up important points in the chapter — which also makes it an easy read when you want to see if there is anything new to glean from this book versus others.

Also, written in the late 1990s, it spends zero time discussing the internet and social media and their effects on kids.

Notice the title of this post says that I’ve read almost all of them. Here’s my short list of more books on the topic I want to get to soon:

Share your thoughts on books about raising boys! Have you read any books that I need to add to my list?

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Tabitha has spent her entire life living in various parts of St. Clair County . . . small town life but close enough to the city to enjoy all it has to offer. She's been married to her high school sweetheart for 13 years. Tabitha spends her days as a blogger and homeschool mom to Gavin, a 5th grader who loves animals, books, geography, LEGO, Disney, roller coasters, museums, pirates and karate. Indeed, he keeps her life interesting! Part of what makes it interesting is homeschooling an only child - it's a unique journey! Tabitha loves libraries, good books, history, traveling, coffee, Disney, sometimes cooking (but never cleaning up), being a "karate mom", more coffee, scrapbooking in her free time (ha!) and naps. Around town, you're likely to catch her "field-tripping" with her son at one of the libraries, a park, the Birmingham Museum of Art, McWane Science Center, the Birmingham Zoo, or one of the other dozens of interesting places in the city - and she'll probably have coffee.