Recommended children’s books: Potty propaganda

There comes a time in all children’s lives when they must do something new, unexpected, tricky, and even a little daunting: learn to use the potty. I’ll save a longer discussion on the ins and outs (pun very much intended) of this task for another post, and instead share with you several of my favorite books for children on the subject. We keep all four in a little basket in the bathroom for thematic enjoyment during our potty parties.

There is certainly no shortage of books in this genre, but I like these in particular because they are funny and lighthearted while also being factual and straightforward. Perhaps most importantly, however, the characters’ desire to do their business in the appropriate place is driven by internal motivation, and not by promises of parental pride, happiness, or expectation. Ultimately, children will be most powerfully and lastingly motivated to use the potty–or do anything else for that matter–out of a sense of inner drive, and these books do a great job of highlighting that theme.

Everyone Poops by Taro Gomi

A classic if there could be said to be one in this odd genre. Kids and adults alike will appreciate the straightforward, matter of fact descriptions and drawings of diverse members of the animal kingdom relieving themselves. Everyone eats, so everyone poops.

Potty by Leslie Patricelli

This simple board book gem features a non-gender-specific child who walks us through the ambivalence of being just on the verge of being potty-ready. The pride and joy in the accomplishment of using the loo is all the child’s, and the jubilant refrain of “Tinkle tinkle toot, I did it! Hooray, undies!” is sure to ring through your home as well.

Time to Pee by Mo Willems

If you’ve never read a book by Mo Willems, boy are you (and your kid too) in for a world of delights. His “Elephant and Piggie” series are matched in wit and whimsy by his “The Pigeon Wants To…” series. In Time to Pee, a chorus of sign-wielding, encouraging mice direct pee-pee dancers of all ages to take that “funny feeling” and head down to the bathroom for some quality potty time.

What Do They Do with All That Poo? by Jane Kurtz

There are so many different kinds of animals at the zoo, and they each make lots and lots (and sometimes LOTS!) of poo. So what do zoos do with all of that poo? This zany, fact-filled romp explores zoo poo, from cube-shaped wombat poo to white hyena scat, and all of the places it ends up, including in science labs and elephant-poo paper — even backyard gardens!

Where’s the Poop? by Julie Markes

Last but not least, this flap book offers not only fascinating information about various animals’ pooping habits, but also the positive role models of some very self-aware and self-determined young creatures who feel pretty darn good about their recent scatalogical activities.


Rebekka Helford is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in Los Angeles, California. With over a decade of experience working with parents and young children, Rebekka specializes in short-term intensive parenting consultation, using a variety of tools including home, office, and school visits to help families navigate developmental hiccups and get back on track.

Click here to schedule an appointment or contact Rebekka with a question – who knows, she might even answer it in her next post!


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