9 books about ADHD on a book shelf

9 Books To Help You Parent Children with ADHD

You often hear parents joke that they wish their child came with an instruction manual.  Ok, maybe it is not always a joke!  When you are parenting a child with some kind of special needs, though, you may feel like you need several volumes of instruction manuals!  We have found this to be true in our house with parenting ADHD!

When I have a problem or question, I read.  This is my go to strategy.  So when I could tell something was ‘not quite right’ with our oldest, I asked some colleagues in the child development profession for some book recommendations.  I still consult many of these books on a regular basis.  This summer I plan on re-reading many of them to see what new nuggets I can find.

Cover of blog post listing 9 books parents should consider reading if parenting a child with ADHD.

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Here is the list of books they recommended with a few others thrown in.  Click on the pictures to learn more and/or purchase.

Taking Charge of ADHD, The Complete, Authoritative Guide for Parents by Russell A. Barkley, PhD

Taking Charge of ADHD, Third Edition: The Complete, Authoritative Guide for Parents
  • Russell A. Barkley (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 363 Pages - 04/15/2013 (Publication Date) - The Guilford Press (Publisher)

My copy of this book is full of sticky notes and underlined sentences so in other words, it is a wealth of information.  It walks you through what ADHD is, how to have it evaluated, guiding principles for raising a child with ADHD, how to cope with behavior, education and school performance, and medications for ADHD.  The author relies on the latest research when updating each new edition, the last of which was revised in 2013.  he also encourages parents to be scientific in their approach to finding solutions for their child.  He proposes that ADHD is really a disorder of self-regulation and that the name ‘attention deficit’ understates the challenges one faces.  I could continue with other great information in the book, but really you should just get the book!

Driven to Distraction, by Edward M Hallowell, MD and John J. Ratey, MD

Driven to Distraction (Revised): Recognizing and Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder
  • Driven to Distraction: Recognizing and Coping With Attention Deficit Disorder
  • Hallowell M.D., Edward M. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 400 Pages - 09/13/2011 (Publication Date) - Anchor (Publisher)

Dr. Hallowell has two books on this list and has many other good books.  Dr. Ratey is also the author of many informative books. Together they have written a great book!  This book was pivotal in our understanding of the Big Struggle in our house!  This is essentially when some seemingly small request or situation turns into an all out war in one’s home.  The Big Struggle was ruling our world a few years ago and this book helped us move away from that dynamic for the most part.  This book also goes into what ADHD is, the subtypes, and how to diagnose and treat it.  Dr. Hallowell brings a very positive attitude to the subject of ADHD while addressing the seriousness of it.

Smart But Scattered by Peg Dawson, EdD and Richard Guare, PhD

Smart but Scattered: The Revolutionary "Executive Skills" Approach to Helping Kids Reach Their Potential
  • Peg Dawson (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 314 Pages - 01/02/2009 (Publication Date) - Guilford Press (Publisher)

Ah, this is another book full of sticky notes.  This book is also a wealth of information, but it is very much a workbook that helps you develop  very specific plans to teach very specific executive function skills.  It will help you help your child to organize, complete daily routines, improve self control (including emotional control), improve working memory, strengthen sustained attention, prioritize and initiate tasks, improve time management, and be more flexible.  We could probably all benefit from this book, don’t you think!?!

Healing ADD, The Breakthrough Program That Allows You to See and Heal the 7 Types of ADD

Healing ADD Revised Edition: The Breakthrough Program that Allows You to See and Heal the 7 Types of ADD
  • Amen M.D., Daniel G. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 464 Pages - 12/03/2013 (Publication Date) - Berkley (Publisher)

This book is unique in that it proposes that there are seven types of ADHD and that treatment should be tailored to each type.  The types Dr. Amen proposes are: Classic, Inattentive, Overfocused, Temporal Lobe, Limbic, Ring of Fire, and Anxious.  He also talks about brain injury induced ADHD as a separate group.  For each type, he proposes medication, supplements, diet, exercise, and behavioral interventions.  He also discusses other strategies and tools that apply to all types.   I have had trouble finding anyone in our area who will assess and treat ADHD under this model of seven types, which has been somewhat frustrating, but there is still plenty of good information that can be learned.  I would love to have the resources to travel to one of his clinics and have brain scans of our children done!

Mindful Parenting for ADHD by Mark Bertin, MD

Mindful Parenting for ADHD: A Guide to Cultivating Calm, Reducing Stress, and Helping Children Thrive (A New Harbinger Self-Help Workbook)
  • Bertin MD, Mark (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 256 Pages - 09/01/2015 (Publication Date) - New Harbinger Publications (Publisher)

I honestly just ordered this book because I wanted to see if there was anything new since I had last researched books on ADHD.  It was published in 2015 and has really good reviews on Amazon.  I liked the focus on reducing stress and the use of mindful techniques.  So I am adding it to my summer reading list.

Bright Kids Who Can’t Keep Up by Ellen Braaten, PhD and Brian Willoughby, PhD

Bright Kids Who Can't Keep Up: Help Your Child Overcome Slow Processing Speed and Succeed in a Fast-Paced World
  • Braaten, Ellen (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 207 Pages - 07/18/2014 (Publication Date) - The Guilford Press (Publisher)

Many children with ADHD have slow processing speed.  This book does a deep dive on that topic.  It explains what processing speed is, how it affects life in a variety of settings, how one goes about assessing processing speed and what accommodations can help a child with slow processing speed.  If you often ask yourself “why is my child so slow even though he seems smart?”, this is probably a good book for you!

The Explosive Child by Ross W. Greene, PhD

The Explosive Child [Fifth Edition]: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Greene PhD, Ross W. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 304 Pages - 05/20/2014 (Publication Date) - Harper Paperbacks (Publisher)

Not every child who has ADHD has explosive outbursts, but if your child does, I HIGHLY recommend this book!  The author details the lagging skills in children who are easily frustrated and less flexible and adaptive than one would expect.  He then lays out a plan called Collaborative Problem Solving to help strengthen these skills.  The plan has three steps: Empathy, Define the Problem, and the Invitation (agreeing on a solution).  Many real life examples are used to explain the plan.  There is a chapter at the end about how to help with challenging behaviors at school, but the author dedicated a whole book, Lost at School, to this topic.  So if behavior at school is a big challenge, I would add that to your book list, too.

The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness by Edward M. Hallowell, MD

The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness: Five Steps to Help Kids Create and Sustain Lifelong Joy
  • Hallowell M.D., Edward M. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 256 Pages - 08/26/2003 (Publication Date) - Random House Publishing Group (Publisher)

This is a research-based book on the roots of joy in people.  It gives you a five step plan to help your children grow into happy, responsible adults.  There is a chapter on each of the steps, which include (1) connection to others, (2) unstructured play both alone and with others, (3) practicing tasks until children (4) achieve mastery and then receive (5) recognition and approval from others.  There is a chapter on being careful as parents not to provide too much pleasure, but rather allow children to create their own pleasure.  I think this is a great reminder in our current culture!

The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman, PhD and Ross Campbell, MD

The 5 Love Languages of Children: The Secret to Loving Children Effectively
  • Chapman, Gary (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 224 Pages - 05/01/2016 (Publication Date) - Northfield Publishing (Publisher)

Now this is not an ADHD book.  Not at all.  It is a book about how to intentionally show your children you love them in a way that is meaningful to them.  I have included it here because children with ADHD hear so much more criticism and correction and ‘don’t do that’ and ‘why did you do that’, etc. than other children. They especially need to feel  love sent their way..  Also some children with ADHD can be quite ‘prickly’ and seemingly unloving toward others, which then naturally decreases the amount of reciprocal love that they receive.

This book is built on the idea that there are five love languages: physical touch, words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, and acts of service.  It proposes that each person has a primary love language and by actively loving someone in their primary love language you will fill their love bank.  There are chapters that deal with special situations such as single parent families and how anger and love are related to each other.

Now that I started to look back over these books, I want to curl up with them and not be disturbed!  Which ones sound good to you?  Did I miss any that you think should be on this list?  Comment below or shoot me an email!

Update 2020

Nowhere to Hide: Why Kids with ADHD & LD Hate School and What We Can Do About It by Jerome J. Schultz, Ph.D.

Nowhere to Hide: Why Kids with ADHD and LD Hate School and What We Can Do About It
  • Hardcover Book
  • Schultz, Jerome J. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 336 Pages - 08/09/2011 (Publication Date) - Jossey-Bass (Publisher)

I just finished reading this book and I think it the best one I have seen on helping children with ADHD be successful in school.  The book focuses on traditional schools, but there is plenty here to help homeschool parents to better teach their children.  This book is key helping children learn to de-stress and control their emotions around academic experiences.

It contains four parts: 1) The Neurobiology of Stress, 2) Making Sense of LD (learning disabilities) and ADHD, 3) How Kids “SAVE FASE” and DE-STRESS (these acronyms represent the author’s step by step plans) and 4) Special Messages for Teachers and Parents.

Updated 2021

Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by John J. Ratey, MD

This book is all about how exercise affects the brain and how it can help with a variety of disorders.  There is an entire chapter dedicated to Learning and one dedicated to Attention Deficit.  Some other related chapters include Stress, Anxiety and Depression.  It really made me realize how much exercise helps the ADHD brain to function better!

Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain
  • Ratey MD, John J. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 304 Pages - 01/01/2013 (Publication Date) - Little, Brown Spark (Publisher)