I’ve been intimidated by the thought of potty training since my pre-mommy days. Being the reader that I am, I have tried to research my way through. I’ve read MANY articles and books. And yet, we aren’t following any particular “plan.” We’re following the lead of my sweet, sensitive firstborn. I think because my expectations were so low, he is doing GREAT! We are a week into the process, and it’s going pretty well! It really does feel like potty learning… a growing process. And we love to learn around here!
So, clearly this post will NOT be a how-to! Instead, I’d like to offer to you my recommendations for books that we’ve enjoyed along our looong journey! I began planting seeds over a year ago when Preschool Bookworm was still Toddler Bookworm. Books were a huge help in setting the stage and introducing the idea. I didn’t have a timeline in mind, but instead began reading books about pottying and encouraging, “Someday you’ll learn how to do that too! You’re going to be great at it!”
Below are the books we found to be most fun! There are lots of books out there that go over the mechanics and logistics. (See below for my selection tips.) Instead, my recommendations here are books that have a slightly different angle than “how to use the potty.” Although I am potty training a boy, I would recommend any of these titles for girls as well.
On Your Potty, Little Rabbit by Kathleen Amant.
The key to unlocking potty learning for my very hesitant son was teaching his stuffed animals to use the potty. After he had the idea down from watching mom & dad and reading some basic books (see below), this was our next step. Mom & Dad showed his beloved stuffed langur how to potty (watch out for that tail!), and then we gave Preschool Bookworm free reign to teach his other animals. This book sparked our initial foray into animal potty training, and it follows the basic steps as a boy teaches his stuffed rabbit. It does use a training toilet in the illustrations (which may have been wise for long-tailed animals, come to think of it). In our house we skipped right to the big toilet with this training seat and LOVE it.
Even Firefighters Go To the Potty by Wendy Wax & Naomi Wax.
This is a lift-the-flap book in which the edge of each page is a bathroom door to open, revealing that from firefighters to doctors, zookeepers to astronauts, everyone has to use the potty sometime! While family was visiting last week, Preschool Bookworm made the rounds across the entire room, asking each family member to read this book to him! He loves it! I love that it shows that bathrooms are everywhere out in the world (Preschool Bookworm was astounded when he discovered that they even have bathrooms at Target and at church!), and it demonstrates various bathroom manners (flushing, washing hands). My only disappointment is that only one female is featured and the only African American featured is a waiter (although you can definitely alter the pronoun to make the astronaut a female as only feet are shown, and a few African Americans are in the illustrations though not featured in the bathroom). There is a companion book, Even Princesses Go to the Potty.
Potty by Mylo Freeman. (out of print but should be available used or at your library)
This book has been in our bathroom for the duration of the week and was requested at EVERY trip to the bathroom for the first 5 days. It’s slightly reminiscent of Cinderella’s glass slipper: a potty sits in the jungle with a note “only the best bottom will fit.” A variety of animals try it out, with varying failed attempts (zebra’s too big, elephant misses altogether, giraffe can’t bend enough), until a small child wanders over and the animals marvel at the perfect match.
Superhero Potty Time by Sue DiCicco.
This book is more of a “how to” variety, but it offers a special feature on each page, whether a flap, tab, or moving part. For example, you can pull the toilet paper down, turn on the water at the sink, even lower the Superhero’s underpants (discretely behind his cape). It’s cute that it includes the superhero angle as well as fun interactivity.
Vegetables in Underwear by Jared Chapman.
This book isn’t about the potty at all, but about that exciting new garment potty learners get to wear: underwear! There’s not really a plot here, just vegetables in underwear, introducing different types of underwear (big/little, dirty/clean, old/new, serious/funny, boys/girls) and reminding readers how much fun it is to wear them. But “Wait a second! Babies don’t wear underwear. Babies wear diapers! Sorry, babies.”
The Potty Train by David Hochman and Ruth Kennison
“Chugga chugga poo-poooooo!” Preschool Bookworm is captivated by trains, so this seemed like a natural fit. I love the gentle language surrounding the process– encouragement when you “get off track,” acknowledging that it takes time to learn, mistakes happen, sometimes you try and nothing happens, but the “Potty Train keeps chugging along.” Think The Little Engine That Could meets potty training.
Books for the Basics:
There are many books that go over the basics, and should be readily available at your local library or bookshop. I recommend taking a peek before reading aloud as it might use different language than you intend to use (although you can probably edit as you read). Here is an article on why it’s best to avoid euphemisms for body parts. More difficult to edit are differing practices than you intend to use, i.e. we skipped the portable potty, but haven’t begun standing to pee or using a urinal. These could warrant a conversation if you want the exposure, but it’s always best to be prepared before turning the page with an eager bookworm in your lap! We found the titles below to be good basic introductions.
Daniel Goes to the Potty (Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood). We love Daniel Tiger around here, and his little tunes are sung often! “When you have to go potty, stop! And go right away!” and “Flush and wash and be on your way” have gotten a lot of air play lately!
Diapers Are Not Forever by Elizabeth Verdick. Simple and celebratory.
Not For My Family, But Maybe For Yours:
These books I wanted to love but they just weren’t for us… but they might be great for your family!
How to Pee: Potty Training for Boys and How to Pee: Potty Training for Girls by Todd Spector. This is a cute concept, and maybe one we will explore down the road. For now I wasn’t keen on encouraging my son’s imaginative play while peeing. I can see it working; maybe when Baby Bookworm is ready we’ll give it a shot. (Sorry, horrible pun.) The author is a family doctor and explains his method for teaching his own children involved taking the fear out of potty training by using creative play: pretend to be a firefighter putting out a blaze, or a superhero shooting the bad guy (drawn on a piece of toilet paper). I haven’t gotten my hands on the girls’ version. If imaginative play might be a way to encourage your reluctant girl to give the potty a go, take a look for it.
Potty Animals by Hope Vestergaard. We haven’t developed any bad toileting habits yet, so I didn’t see a need for this in our home right now. However, if you’re struggling with forgetting to wash hands, failing to close the door in public, afraid to flush, not knocking, and similar etiquette issues, this could be a great choice for you.
Good luck, friends! Keep Reading!
The books mentioned in this post should be readily available at your local library or at the affiliate links provided.