Back-to-school time has put us in the mood to hit the books—and of course the subject on our minds is parenting. We asked our trusted Scouts to share the one can’t-parent-without-it book they’d want with them if they were stuck on a deserted island (with their kids, of course). Here’s what they chose and why, in the order you’ll need them.

When you’re pregnant: “I loved The Girlfriends’ Guide to Pregnancy,” says our Seattle Scout. “It’s simple, lighthearted, and easy to read. I particularly liked the advice about what you do and don’t need at the hospital.”

When your newborn won’t stop crying:The Happiest Baby on the Block, hands down,” says our Miami Scout. “Without it, I might have left my son at a firehouse, or anyplace with a ‘Safe Place’ sign. I’m kidding, but seriously, it helped me understand more about what was going on with my baby—and how to soothe him.”

When it’s time for a sleep schedule: Our Los Angeles Scout picked Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child (our Publisher and several other Scouts seconded that vote). “Sleep is so important to a child’s overall mood and disposition,” she explains. “This book is my bible.”

When you have a question about anything: Our Boston and New York City Scouts like The New Basics, A-to-Z Baby & Child Care for the Modern Parent. “There’s no psychobable, just a handy guide organized like an encyclopedia so you can look up things like ‘adenoids,’ ‘head shape,’ ‘tantrums,’ and ‘x-rays’.”

When your parenting style skews attachment-y: Our Greenwich and Brooklyn Scouts suggest Dr. Sears’ The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby from Birth to Age Two. “We used it all the time for answers to feeding, sleeping, and teething questions,” our Brooklyn Scout explains.  “I bought several books but this was the only one I really used.”

When you want to stimulate the kid:Bright From the Start by Jill Stamm is a great book about how to play with your baby in a way that encourages his or her brain development,” says another Los Angeles Scout. “That sounds kind of intense but really it just gives you ideas about how to play with your baby.”
When you’re feeling cerebral about parenting:NurtureShock totally changed the way I parent,” says our Washington, D.C. Scout. “It turns on its ear every paradigm I thought I knew and applies to parents with kids of all ages.”

When it’s time for dinner: Our Washington, D.C. Scout (who broke the rules and picked two books) also adores The Family Dinner by Laurie David). “I really believe that eating dinner as a family is the cornerstone of raising a healthy, happy child and, I must admit, I was bad at it with my work schedule, children many years apart, and a very busy husband. Laurie’s book changed it all.” 

When your child hits a certain age: “I love the Your X-Year Old books,” says our Dallas Scout. “Right now I am reading Your Two-Year-Old: Terrible or Tender by Louise Bates Ames. It’s so old-school, and it basically explains why kids do things rather than how to solve or prevent them. There’s one for every age, from one to 14.”