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Key Takeaways:

  • Childhood trauma comes from adverse childhood experiences that persist well into adulthood.
  • Books can be incredibly helpful for gaining clarity about the impact of trauma so that a person can start breaking free from this cycle.
  • Take your time to explore different books and choose the ones that feel most helpful for your situation.

Books on childhood trauma can offer valuable insights for individuals who’ve gone through a great deal of pain in the past. For adults with a history of childhood trauma or those helping a child or teen cope with its effects, these resources offer validation. With the right reading material, you’re also encouraged to seek professional help to facilitate emotional healing.

Here is a curated list of books about childhood trauma. They address its nature, effects, and ways to recover.

10 Best Books on Childhood Trauma

When choosing childhood trauma books, pay attention to the themes and topics being covered. You or a child you’re trying to support may be dealing with a specific type of trauma, so make sure that your book of choice is relevant to the situation.

In addition, we recommend checking customer reviews and recommendations from therapists, organizations, and other mental health professionals.

Here are some of the best ones:

1. The Body Keeps the Score – Dr. Bessell van der Kolk

Written by a psychiatrist and researcher, The Body Keeps the Score explores the significant impact of trauma on the mind and body. It is primarily written for adults looking to understand their experiences and start the healing process. Throughout the book, you’ll discover case studies and stories of people who have survived traumatic experiences.

This book is also recommended for clinicians who are interested in the effects of trauma on children and adults.

Price: $9.00 on Amazon, $16.99 at Barnes & Noble

2. Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving: A Guide and Map for Recovering from Childhood Trauma – Pete Walker

This book focuses on complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD), a type of trauma caused by prolonged and repeated negative events during childhood. Its goal is to help readers recover from the residual effects of childhood trauma so that they can live rich and fulfilling lives. The fact that it offers guidance for therapists and a clear roadmap for healing suggests it's a well-rounded resource.

Price: $14.65 on Amazon, $19.99 at Barnes & Noble

Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents

3. Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents: How to Heal from Distant, Rejecting, or Self-Involved Parents - Lindsay C. Gibson

Individuals who have experienced the challenges of growing up with emotionally immature or unavailable caregivers will benefit a lot from this book. Here, clinical psychologist Lindsay Gibson discusses the impact of such parenting on children, such as feelings of anger and abandonment.

The book also introduces coping strategies as a “lifeline” especially in situations where the adult child often has to deal with the difficult relationship they have with the parent.

Price: $12.79 on Amazon, $15.78 at ThriftBooks

4. The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Trauma and Adversity – Dr. Nadine Burke Harris

Dr. Nadine Burke Harris talks about adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) in The Deepest Well. She discusses how ACEs can affect someone over their lifetime, specifically, how they show up later in life as physical ailments like chronic conditions, cancers, strokes, and other diseases.

If you’ve gone through ACEs and want to understand how they impact you at present, then this is a great book on trauma to pick up.

Price: $12.75 on Amazon, $17.49 at Barnes & Noble

Running on Empty

5. Running on Empty: Overcome Your Childhood Emotional Neglect - Jonice Webb

Emotional neglect, where a child's emotional needs are not adequately met, can have long-lasting effects. This book addresses the silent struggles individuals face, including feeling disconnected, lonely, and unfulfilled even when they look fine outwardly.

Readers of this book appreciate the author’s empathetic approach and they find that her insights make them feel understood.

Price: $13.99 on Amazon, $17.95 at Barnes & Noble

Mean Mothers

6. Mean Mothers: Overcoming The Legacy of Hurt – Peg Streep

Generational trauma can be at the root of childhood trauma, and this book dives deep into that. Peg Streep talks about how unloving mothers create daughters who are unloving themselves or hypercritical. It discusses the effects of emotionally absent or cruel mothers on one’s sense of self and relationships.

Fortunately, this book also presents a narrative of hope, recounting how daughters can break away from the pattern of hurt to become whole individuals and loving mothers to the next generation.

Price: $24.24 on Amazon, $10.59 at ThriftBooks

7. The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog – Dr. Bruce D. Perry, Maia Szalavitz

The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog features different stories of happy and healthy adults who, as children, went through trauma. This book can serve as inspiration for those who are struggling with their childhood trauma.

Here, Dr. Perry and Szalavitz share insights into how early experiences impact brain development, emotional regulation, and attachment. What sets this book apart is its emphasis on resilience and healing relationships.

Price: $13.01 on Amazon, $19.99 at Barnes & Noble

When Pleasing You Is Killing Me

8. When Pleasing You Is Killing Me – Dr. Les Carter

Some people who have experienced childhood trauma tend to be peacekeepers during conflicts, even if it comes at a high emotional price for them. They may also feel that their characteristics of goodness, kindness, and cooperation become disadvantages in the presence of others. These traits often come from unresolved childhood trauma, specifically, from having an unbalanced relationship with parents.

Dr. Les Carter uses his book to invite people with childhood trauma to relate to real-life stories of others who are trying to make sense of the persistent demands of controlling people.

Price: $16.98 on Amazon, $19.00 at Barnes & Noble

9. It Didn’t Start with You: How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are and How to End the Cycle – Mark Wolynn

In another book on generational trauma, Mark Wolynn talks about how trauma has affected other family members from different generations and how this can be passed down through genes. If your entire family has had some experience with trauma, then this is a great book to read.

You can learn that your inherited family patterns are not the end and that you can break free and change them to carve out a path of your own.

Price: $12.58 on Amazon, $15.34 at ThriftBooks

10. The Truth Will Set You Free: Overcoming Emotional Blindness and Finding Your True Adult Self – Dr. Allice Miller

This book explains that embracing the truth of our past histories is the only way to be free of pain in the present. Dr. Allice Miller debunks the authoritarian parenting approach, including practicing tough love.

The consequences of such parenting styles can be bad enough that they persist well into adulthood. This shows how parents are responsible for the formation of the emotional lives of their children and that they can influence the occurrence of trauma.

Price: $13.54 on Amazon, $16.99 at Barnes & Noble

The Bottom Line

These books about healing childhood trauma can serve as powerful tools for trauma survivors, caring adults, and professionals alike. They let readers know that survivors can rebuild themselves with coping, healthy relationships, and professional help.

In addition to childhood trauma books, individuals may answer these Trauma Worksheets as part of recovery.

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