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28 must-read books for single moms on parenting, personal finances, and more

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Whatever your single-mom related questions, issues, joys or challenges are, there is a single mom book for it.

In fact, I wrote a book for you, too! Here is my list of vetted titles of books for single mothers, designed for you in whatever state of your journey, in no particular order… *cough*

Note that Amazon Prime offers a 50% discount for memberships for those who qualify! 

This is my baby.

The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), is my #1 bestselling baby, and I am so proud of it. It is all about my own experience becoming a single mom, the details about how much pain I went though, how I got back on my feet financially, thrived professionally and in my motherhood, and came to enjoy dating, sex and romance.

It includes lots of incredible stories from other, kickass single moms, research, and tips from incredible moms and experts. Hundreds of readers have told me it changed their lives in incredible ways, and it was endorsed by the NYT, The Doctors, Fox & Friends, and dozens of other media.

30-Day Kickass Single Mom Money Makeover

30 day money makeover single mom book

Follow-up to the classic tome, this is a quick-and-dirty guide on tackling every important aspect of your personal finance, 30-Day Kickass Single Mom Money Makeover gives you a plan for saving, debt, earning and growing your dream career, investing like a pro, budget and credit and, arguably most important: your single-mom money mindset!

Also, check out our list of TV shows and movies about single parenthood.

Single parenting books

The Whole-Brain Child

It doesn’t take a neurologist to tell you that kids’ brains don’t finish developing until their early adult lives. But knowing exactly what to do with that information is key. Cue neuroscientist Daniel J. Siegel and parenting expert Tina Payne Bryson, whose book, The Whole-Brain Child helps parents understand differences in children’s brain development patterns and use this knowledge to raise calmer, happier kids.

Why I like this book for single moms: 

Their crystal-clear explanations and age-appropriate strategies will help you teach your kiddos important life skills in ways they’ll understand now. This New York Times bestseller is a must-read for moms looking to corral their kids with compassion.

26 reasons being a single mom is awesome

No Bad Kids

Janet Lansbury, author of No Bad Kids, is a four-leaf clover among other professional parenting and family relationship experts. She studied under one of the first and greatest child specialists, Magda Gerber, which means her advice and techniques aren’t the product of formal studies and research trials; she’s got actual hands-on experience helping parents and toddlers.

Why I like this book for single moms: 

The book addresses solutions for the common issues of punishment, cooperation, boundaries, disobedience, testing, tantrums, hitting, and more. Moms, if you’re at your wits’ end and your toddlers are testing your limits, this book is definitely for you.

Year of Yes

If the name Shonda Rhimes sounds familiar, that’s because she is the executive producer of How to Get Away with Murder, Scandal, and Grey’s Anatomy. In her New York Times bestselling book, Year of Yes, learn how saying “YES” changed her life. For as bold as Rhimes’s TV shows are, it’s pretty shocking to learn how much of an introvert Rhimes is. So, for one whole year, she decided to say “YES!” to everything that scared her.

Why I like this book for single moms: 

In this part-memoir-part-inspirational book, see how drastically her life became once she started opening herself up to new opportunities, shutting down self-doubt and self-sabotage, and exploring her newly empowered self. By the end of this book, you’ll be putting on your shoes and getting out to try something new, ASAP!

Books for single moms raising sons

Strong Mothers, Strong Sons: Lessons Mothers Need to Raise Extraordinary Men

A book about how mothers can raise their sons to be strong men.

Strong Mothers, Strong Sons is a must-read for any parent, or anyone who loves boys who today face unique challenges and pressures that put them at high risk for many serious issues. This book offers a road map to help mothers be more confident, bold and affection towards their sons — including for single mothers faced with filling in the void of father figures in their son's life. This book sets you up for success as a parent of a son today, and going forward through the rest of your adult relationship.

Why I like this book for single moms: 

Single moms of sons (raising my hand!) can feel overwhelmed and incompetent when it comes to bringing up a male child. This book, while for all mothers, gives tactical tools for connecting with your son and helping you give him what he needs.

Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men

Boys and men are in an under-discussed crisis, and as parents we have an opportunity to identify and support our sons into success. This book helps the reader understand

By Leonard Sax, MD, PhD, Boys Adrift explores studies that find that boys today are less resilient and less ambitious than twenty years ago. The gender gap in college attendance and graduation rates has widened dramatically, and social, cultural, and biological factors have created an environment that is literally toxic to boys.

Why I like this book for single moms: 

 This book presents practical solutions, sharing strategies which educators have found effective in re-engaging these boys at school, as well as tips for parents about everything from homework, to videogames, to medication.

Do you make your son the man of the house? Avoid this single-mom pitfall

More single mom books

Inspirational and motivational books for single moms

Read my thoughts about self-fulfilling stereotypes for single moms, then check out these titles: 

Daring Greatly

#1 New York Times Bestselling author Brene Brown is a social scientist who has built her platform by sparking conversations about love, courage, creativity, self-acceptance, and joy. In her book, Daring Greatly, she helps her readers understand one of the least-valued traits: vulnerability.

Why I like this book for single moms: 

Brown explains that vulnerability and the willingness to trust without guarantee of success, is the key to living a brave and meaningful life. Through countless interviews with people of all walks of life, she helps us make the connection between allowing ourselves to fall, get uncomfortable, gain footing again and rise with more identity, truth, and an appreciation for the process.

Big Magic

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat Pray Love, is no stranger to inspiration, as proven by Big Magic. In this book, she digs down into her own creative process and reveals her unique perspective on the art of inspiration – managing it, growing it, and embracing it.

Why I like this book for single moms: 

I love her explanation of creativity as “strange jewels” that are inside each of us, which we each have to uncover for ourselves. Whether you’re looking to start a business, write a book, advance at work, or simply find a higher level of inspired existence and passion, this book is just what you need.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

Just when you thought this self-help book list was getting too woo-woo and fuzzy – BAM! In comes Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck. This has to be one of the most refreshing and unexpected books to hit the inspirational book circuit in quite a while, and it’s 100% worth the read.

Why I like this book for single moms: 

Manson himself is a blogger, but his approach to “living the good life” isn’t covered with Instagram filters and emojis. Instead, his book teaches that being positive all the damn time isn’t really helping us become better, happier people. His raw, real, and honest perspective is the opposite of coddling – he wants us to stop running from painful truths, fears and limitations and start seeking the honesty, responsibility, curiosity and strength we need to build the lives we want.

Rising Strong

It’s not a true self-help book list for single moms if Brene Brown isn’t in here at least twice! In Rising Strong, she discusses the importance of resetting yourself in order to live, love, parent and lead more effectively. She empowers her readers to allow themselves to transform into whatever they want to be, and to embrace their process.

Why I like this book for single moms: 

This is a perfect book for divorced single moms, or anyone trying to get back on the horse. Brene’s ability to be comforting and encouraging while also being influential and motivating is a true gift to those of us who need a little grace, a little self-acceptance, and a whole lot of healing.

The Slight Edge

The Slight Edge, by Jeff Olson, is a life-changing book. It’s about processing information and about thinking in a way that leads to a happier, more successful life. It’s incredibly impactful for something that sounds so simple: tweak your daily habits and activities and create powerful results that ripple throughout your life.

Why I like this book for single moms: 

The book includes insight into how we process information and think about things on a basic level, and what impact those little actions and thoughts have on our interpretation of absolutely everything in life. If you’re into hacking into your psychology to make small changes that really make the difference, this is your kind of book.

Eat Pray Love


Sure, Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love is about divorce and separation, but more importantly, it’s about the journey that happens after divorce – the inspiration, self-actualization, raw vulnerability, acceptance, and humility – the empowerment. Gilbert’s autobiography of coming to terms with her desire to leave her marriage, her journey over one year in Italy, India and Indonesia, and her exploration of love after marriage are all relatable, beautiful and full of hope.

Why I like this book for single moms: 

This book is amazing and bright, whether you’re divorced or not. But it takes on a much fuller meaning and comes alive with so much more color if you’ve gone through it. Eat Pray Love is a perfect pick-me-up for a girlfriend who’s going through divorce. 

You Are a Badass

Lots of single mom books in the self-help genre claim to be able to help you “live your best life.” But few are as effective and memorable as Jen Sincero’s blunt how-to guide, You Are a Badass. This book has rocketed in popularity since it was released, and it’s all because of the bestselling author, speaker, and world-travelling success coach’s refreshing tough love approach.

Why I like this book for single moms: 

If you ever find yourself too busy to get anywhere in a book (hello, raise your hand, single mamas!), this one’s for you. Sincero’s 27 snackable chapters are chock-full of inspirational, gut-bustingly funny stories, sincere insights, easy exercises, and – my fave – gratuitous swearing. 

Sex, romance and relationship books

You’re single. You are a sexual woman. This is an incredible new journey for you! 

All about why and how dating is so great as a single mom.

Pussy: A Reclamation


If you listen to my podcast, you’ll already know I’m a huge fan of my friend’s book, Pussy: A Reclamation. Mama Gena lays it all there for us, ladies. From helping your daughters to nurture their own femininity and sensuality, to what the word “pussy” (really) means to us, it’s all there. No holds barred.

Check out the podcast, hear what Regena has to say on the magical topic of pussy, and learn to embrace what makes, well… us.

Why I like this book for single moms: 

Mama Genia was divorced with a small daughter who built a seven-figure business while enjoying her body and relationships

The 5 Love Languages

5 love languages

This one is just a staple for every woman (and man) to read. The 5 Love Languages: The Secret To Love That Lasts is such an impactful book because it shows us how we can all give love, and receive love, in the most powerful way unique to us. You think you know someone, and what makes them tick?

You may want to think again. Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the 5 Love Languages, puts love and relationships into a whole new perspective, one which might just flip your world on its head.

Why I like this book for single moms: 

Chances are you are, as a single mom, many of your relationships are in flux: romatic, familial, friendships — and getting to know your growing child. If you’re anything like me, expect more than one “Aha!” moment as you learn about love languages, as a way to understand and connect with those around you.

This #1 bestseller for the NYTimes is here to stay. Make sure the people you care about are, too, and learn their language.

Money and business books

Single moms have unique money and personal finance needs. All about how to set up a budget, pay off debt (even on a low income), and invest to build wealth as a single mom.

From Passion to Profit

It’s never been easier to start a business, and yet, getting all of your ducks in a row is a seemingly daunting task at times. From Passion to Profit takes youtakesyou step-by-step through starting a profitable online enterprise in less than six weeks.

Why I like this book for single moms: 

Creative mamas and makers of all sorts swear by this book for its no-nonsense tips and advice for everything from developing your products and services to branding yourself and getting traffic to your online store.

Power of Transparency

Are you a mom struggling with work-life balance? Who isn’t?! Lisa Liberatore gets it, and her book, Power of Transparency, offers a solution: creating transparency in all you do. Her sections on navigating life’s obstacles, staying on track with goals, and communicating openly are hugely empowering in a world focused on Instagram images, sound bites and other faux-perfect mesasging.

Why I like this book for single moms: 

Learn how to find meaning and clarity in both personal and professional life, manage expectations, and GET FOCUSED. This book’s impact cannot be stressed enough!

You Are a Badass at Making Money

#1 New York Times bestselling author Jen Sincero’s You Are a Badass at Making Money has quickly become a cult favorite – and for good reason! Her story is incredible: she transformed her life from broke to bountiful over just a few years.

Why I like this book for single moms: 

Using her balls, wit, and real-world solutions, she helps readers unleash their earning potential, see money in a new light, and uncover what’s been holding them back from making money. Her bite-sized concepts and strategies make this book truly memorable and, more importantly, actionable.

Secrets of Six-Figure Women

Dig this: in 1998, the average woman earned less than $25,000 annually. As of 2018, over 15 million women make $100,000 or more – and that number is growing at a faster pace than men!

What makes these women able to pull these incomes, even in varied industries? Barbara Stanny was curious, and her research became Secrets of Six-Figure Women, an Amazon best-selling book. What she found is that, though these women came from different backgrounds and have vastly different careers and work experiences, certain characteristics remain the same.

Why I like this book for single moms: 

This book will help single moms work through the poverty mindset and focus on earning and growing their wealth.

Read more about at-home careers, side hustles and jobs that do not require degrees.

Divorce books

Maybe you’re deciding whether to get divorced, or learning about the divorce process. There is a book for that.  

How to Talk to your Kids About Your Divorce

Dr. Samantha Rodman, author of How to Talk to Your Kids About Your Divorce, knows there’s no easy way to discuss the tricky subject of divorce with your kids. But whether you’re breaking the initial news, or helping your children cope with their changing environment following yourseparation, it’s totally possible to have open and effective communication with them.

Why I like this book for single moms: 

Dr. Rodman teaches moms how to help kids express their thoughts about the divorce and validate their concerns and emotions. Her sections on answering questions in age-appropriate ways is a big favorite for a lot of moms, and the expertise in both psychology and relationships is obvious after reading only a few pages.

The Co-Parenting Handbook

Anyone who reads my blog, listens to my podcast, follows me on YouTube, or knows me in general, knows that I’m a HUGE proponent of co-parenting. However, it’s still a largely debated matter for many families. Karen Bonnell’s book, The Co-Parenting Handbook, is a buoy in the sea of questions about exactly what “co-parenting” means and how to make it happen.

The book addresses practical and logistical questions of how shared parenting works, plus strategies for parents and children that help make this method work for your own family unit.

Why I like this book for single moms: 

Shared parenting is critical for women, as involved co-parents, both inside and outside of marriage, mean women have far more support at home, which allows us to thrive as parents, professionals and earners. After all, we can’t be equals at work, if men are not equals at home!

Divorce Poison

Parental alienation is real, mamas. It’s a subject I’ve written about in the past and one I’m particularly passionate about. Richard A. Warshak discusses this form of abusive behavior in depth in his book, Divorce Poison.

Warshak explains how to deal when your ex-spouse bad-mouths you to your kids, portrays you in a negative light, and/or attempts to turn your children against you.

Why I like this book for single moms: 

You’ll learn powerful strategies to preserve and rebuild your relationships with your kids, and what to do from legal and mental health standpoints to prevent longer-term repercussions of these negative situations.

How to co-parent with a toxic ex

Happy Divorce


With a two-part approach, Rossana Condoleo’s Happy Divorce shows readers how to turn their divorce into the most empowering and transformative opportunity of a lifetime. Part One offers support and comfort for women coping with the stress and pain of separation and divorce. From there, she moves into helping uncover and embrace the readers’ visions, true Self, dreams, and purpose, setting goals along the way.

Part Two is very practical advice for everything from managing social life post-divorce, helping children cope and understand the shifts, taking care of a home on your own, choosing and dealing with divorce lawyers, and many more guides.

Why I like this book for single moms: 

Anyone looking for a one-two-punch of compassion and advice in the wake of a divorce should grab a copy ASAP!

Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay


Mira Kirschenbaum’s book, Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay, is the perfect book for anyone who finds themselves wondering, “Should I get a divorce?” As an international bestseller and well-respected therapist, her years of relationship counseling make her well-equipped to answer this troubling question.

Why I like this book for single moms: 

Kirschenbaum’s techniques and questions are meant to promote self-analysis and get to the root of relationship and marital issues, which she follows with no-BS, practical advice for relationships – new or old – delivered in a clear manner.

Kids Books About Divorce

Two Homes


Kids books about divorce can be a little tricky to come by. Claire Masurel’s book, Two Homes, handles the often-sensitive topic of divorce with the perfect measure of optimism and sensitivity. The book describes main character Alex’s favorite elements of life at both parents’ homes – “At Mommy’s house, Alex has a soft chair. At Daddy’s house, Alex has a rocking chair.”

Why I like this book for single moms: 

The words are simple, positive, and reassuring, and Alex’s place is firmly established in both homes with loving detail. A simple book for small kids — and their parents.

Dinosaurs Divorce


Dinosaurs Divorce by Marc Brown has been a learning and coping tool for families for over 25 years. Through basic storylines and lovable dinosaur characters, it helps young children understand basic concepts like divorce words and what they mean and why parents divorce, plus what to expect after divorce, like telling friends, meeting parents’ new friends, and living with stepparents and step-siblings.

Why I like this book for single moms: 

It even helps kids know how things will change once divorce takes place, such as celebrating holidays and special occasions. Knowing why divorce happens and what to expect has made so many kids feel more comforted and secure, and I highly recommend helping them learn with an age-appropriate book like this one.

Llama Llama Series


Moms love this Llama Llama series by Anna Dewdney in part because seemingly-solo Mama Llama is so freaking relatable! She teeters on the edge of blowing her stack as her little Llama Llama gets grumpy during holiday shopping, refuses to share with his playmates, takes all his frustrations out on the poor woman, and will not stay in bed already. She’s also sweet and giving and rounds out a whole, real mom in a way so few children’s books do. Stay strong, Mama Llama!

Why I like this book for single moms: 

Llama Llama books are beloved classic and I love the realistic and fun way that the single mom is the quiet hero in them all.

What are your favorite single mom books? Let us know in the comments founder Emma Johnson is an award-winning business journalist, activist, author and expert. A former Associated Press reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has appeared on CNBC, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, TIME, The Doctors, Elle, O, The Oprah Magazine. Winner of Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web” and a New York Observer “Most Eligible New Yorker," her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was a New York Post Must Read. As an expert on divorce and gender, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality and multiple state legislature hearings. More about Emma's credentials.


Dear Emma,

by googling my book “Happy Divorce”, I have discovered your brilliantly written review on this page. Thank you so much for reading it and for finding the right words to describe it. I will publish your review on the amazon´s editorial reviews, adding your authorship for “The Kickass Single Mom”… BIG CONGRATS for your BESTSELLER!!! I have also authored and published “If You Want You Can Fly”, an inspirational-motivational-coaching book dedicated both to single moms and dads.

As a single mom myself I thank you very much for having addressed the problems linked to our condition at an institutional level. There are not enough understanding, love, help and, particularly, no regulations allowing us to find a job or a new home without 1 million difficulties and closed doors. So please go ahead. :-)

While wishing you even more success in your life and career, I am sending you and your children lot of

Rossana Condoleo (Roxy :-)

Wow, I love the idea of not giving kids allowances and instead paying them for work to build those entrepreneurial skills. I’ve seen the argument against paying kids for chores, but framing it as entrepreneurship illustrates how valuable this could be!

This post made me reconsider my current policy of automatic allowance. Stay tuned. What will your new policy be, Katie?

I’ve learned a lot from Dave Ramsey. I’m sure she has a lot to offer as well.

While my parents weren’t the financial wizards, with four kids they didn’t put themselves in debt to raise us either. If we wanted a car, we were expected to save and pay for every bit of it ourselves (but also maintain our grades.) When it came to college, three of the four of us worked full time, and paid our own way through where we didn’t get scholarships (one sibling didn’t go to college) – no student loans. I learned a lot in those “lessons”, and I think too many kids today, including my nieces and nephews, have been spoiled way beyond reason with parents trying to keep up with the Joneses.

No parents, single or married, should feel bad that they can’t get their kids everything all the other kids seem to have – or even some of the things other kids have. There is something to be said for learning to do without when everyone around you is spoiled. In my life I learned a lot about work ethic, and many of the spoiled teens I graduated with were left behind when it came time to work hard in life.

I totally agree with 100% of what you said, though I am starting to see myself going down the guilt rabbit hole. Like I wish I could send my kids to a really fabulous summer camp with all the other NYC kids, but I just can’t swing it. Will my kids suffer? No. But I still wish I could give them that. #firstworldproblems

Very interesting interview. I agree with Farnoosh in the fact that you need to be mutually respectful in a relationship and men can have insecurities in this area but I think you have to be careful not to mommy your husband too. You don’t want to encourage complacency in him either. I think there is an issue of underachieving people in this generation, both men and women. Discussing issues respectfully is always a safe bet. It is essential to communicate not patronize either party.

This problem is absolutely a huge issue in divorce. It takes a strong, open-minded man to handle the role of “support” to his “monied” wife: one who can understand that the whole functioning and well-being of the relationship involves more than just salary contribution. This is the successful dynamic in which I was raised. It is the (currently successful) dynamic of my living situation now. But it was horrible during my own failed marriage, in part because my ex- was not able to deal with the shift of my income over his (of his own doing!) and help support me in ways beyond income. Right when I had our first child and was facing “Partner vs. Mommy track,” he took a massive pay-cut, in a job that provided him with extreme work hours and the inflexibility of a para-military organization. I struggled to do it all, and miserably failed!

what a great interview and she is young but she has wise advice. We have similar ethics in terms of finance and ethics. Great personality too.

I saw her on a talk show yesterday and LOVED her. I’m a big fan of her dad and his philosophy on money. Can’t wait to crack open the book, and I’m sure, recommend it to a few hundred thousand people! :)

Oh – you could listen while, say, you did yardwork, or driving in the car. Cuz you just need to multitask more!

Good interview. I’d add that the “I’m just sooo busy” angle is often a convenient excuse to avoid getting together with someone. But, I guess it’s more polite than saying, “Even though there are 8,760 hours in a year, I can’t quite motivate myself to spend even 2 of them with you anytime soon…if ever.” The busy claim is as all-purpose as duct tape…

Ha! So true Harry. People have been doing that forever – but the new thing (I find) is that there is a sort of status symbol attached to being occupied)

I think it all comes down to low self-esteem. People want to be “busy” because it makes them appear in the eyes of others, well…important.
Also, technology has crept into our (not mine) lives and many people spend way too much time doing…mindless stuff, like updating facebook status and twitting etc.
People also have larger homes than many , many years ago those home need to be maintained. People commute for work and that takes time. People over schedule their kids because they thing that’s the trendy thing to do…
I live my life simple. I do keep a clean and neat household and cook for my family meals from scratch, yes, including baking bread, making ice cream etc. It’s all about priorites, time management etc.
Like you mentioned, this a first world problem.

Anna- Great perspective. We have so many choices, so much control over our lives that we do not appreciate it. Good on you for taking a deep look at what makes you happy and embracing it.

And the most important question: how can we get the fathers to participate and help carry some of the load? I think men are starting to step up to the plate. But in many cases, they don’t until they are confronted with a divorce and limited access to their kids. What can we do to get ahead of that?

The other problem that may be particular to just me: how do we let go the expectation set for us by our mothers (or set by us in witnessing our mothers)? My mom “did it all,” working full-time, heading the household financially, spelling out chores, (eh-hum) laundry, and not to mention her role as President of the PTA for each school that my brother and I attended. Some of us maybe witnessed “Super Mom” at work. I tell myself that she did it during a time when there was a off-switch: no internet (as we know it today), no cell phones (that weren’t the size of platform heels), and little expectation to work after 5pm. Still, I’m astounded at what she did and it pushes me to do more (like, attending every PTA meeting for the rest of my tired life).

I really enjoyed reading your post and appreciate your website name so much! I am a 46 year old single working mom and have been on my own for almost ten years. I left my ex-husband when my daugher was 11 months old and my son was 3. It wasn’t an easy decision but knew it had to be done because I wanted to be happy and make a happy life for myself and my children. I felt liberated when I made the decision and knew I had support from friends and family and have never looked back.

Thank you for such an honest expression of your story, I share many of the same stories and look forward to creating many more in the future.

Thanks for this – I hear again and again how women make the decision to leave fulfilling or toxic marriages to find happiness for the whole family. I think it is often these unhappy relationships with good people that are the hardest to leave, because there isn’t an overt reason of abuse, addiction, etc., to justify it.

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