Potty Time! 17 Books for Potty Training Tots and Parents | Milestones

Taro Gomi’s Everyone Poops is a go-to for most grown-ups as they embark on the potty-training journey with their little ones. But the struggle gets real when it comes to getting toddlers aboard the “poo-poo” train. Share these 17 selections with frustrated (and hopeful) adults and their sweet babies.

Taro Gomi’s Everyone Poops is a go-to for most grown-ups as they embark on the potty training journey with their little ones. But the struggle gets real when it comes to getting toddlers aboard the “poo-poo” train. Share these 17 selections with frustrated (and hopeful) adults and their sweet babies. The list includes offerings from early childhood staples like Robert Munsch, Leslie Patricelli, and Elizabeth Verdick. It also features lift-the-flaps books, bilingual works, and pun-filled picks.


Where Do You Poop? by Agnese Baruzzi. MineditionUS. ISBN 9781662650420.
Toddler-PreS–Potty training becomes a funny, interactive game of discovery in this rhyming pull-the-tab book. Kids will laugh out loud as they make each animal’s poop appear by sliding the tab—and learn where they should go! The bird does it in the air, the dog does it on a lawn. But where should a child do it? On the potty, of course! This brightly colored board book works as both a biology lesson and potty-training encouragement. It’s a demonstrative, normalizing call for young readers to embrace their own bathroom ritual via the porcelain throne. VERDICT This is sure to appeal to kids' sense of humor.

Peep and Egg: I’m Not Using the Potty by Laura Gehl. illus. by Joyce Wan. Farrar. ISBN 9780374303280.
PreS–Peep enthusiastically tries to convince Egg to use the toilet. Reluctant Egg has a number of excuses to avoid the act and defiantly exclaims each time that he's not using the potty. Peep cleverly introduces Egg to new scenarios that will lead to him giving in, such as drinking lemonade and playing by a stream with their duckling pals. Wan's bright and bold illustrations add to the fun. Caregivers who are attempting to potty train little ones will be grateful for this latest addition to the genre. The book addresses some of the concerns that children might have through Egg facing his own fears. Kids will appreciate the humor, even as they struggle with their own misgivings. VERDICT A satisfying conclusion for both Peep and Egg makes this volume a good choice for “potty” shelves. 

Goldilocks and the Just Right Potty by Leigh Hodgkinson. Nosy Crow. ISBN 9780763697990.
Toddler-PreS–Hodgkinson gives readers another "Goldilocks" iteration in the form of a humorous fractured fairy tale geared toward toddlers who are beginning to toilet train. But just like any story involving Goldilocks, she can be rather fickle about finding the perfect item. Once she decides which underpants are "just right," she moves on to look for her "just right" potty. She has to explore all of her options, including a large boot and a tiny teacup, before choosing the right one. The story touches on the idea that potty training takes some time and that accidents can happen, but that with persistence, success will be achieved. VERDICT Parents and children will delight in the humor and familiarity in this fun and engaging tale.

Potty Time! by Alice Le Hénand. Chronicle Twirl. ISBN 9782745995476. 
Toddler-PreS–Various animal parents instruct their children on proper bathroom etiquette. Crocodile, kangaroo, monkey, bear, and cat parents ask their children if they need to use the potty and guide them through toilet-training practice. Both successful and unsuccessful experiences are captured in the narrative, and the parents respond in kind and understanding ways. The pull-the-tab feature shows the progression of time during various potty introductions. Some of the children adjust to using the potty, whereas others opt to stick with their diapers until sometime in the future. VERDICT The simple, yet eye-catching, illustrations successfully capture the range of emotions a child might experience during toilet training.

 

The Poop Song by Eric Litwin. illus. by Claudi Boldt. Chronicle. ISBN 9781452179506.
PreS–While there are numerous books for toddlers on learning to use the potty, and several other unrelated “Poop Song” versions on the internet, this picture book sing-along takes a broader approach: All creatures, whether fish, caterpillars, camels, or others, have to poop no matter where they are. Of course, children are included as well in a recurring refrain that emphasizes the human, though binary, approach to the call of nature. In the author’s musical version, a chorus of children shout the word “poop” every time it comes up in the song. It’s not a book about learning to use the toilet, but unabashedly portrays the function as an everyday, common occurrence. The illustrations are colorful, humorous, and festive as every creature looks to be quite relieved and happy that their bodily functions are in good order. VERDICT The book you didn't know was missing from your collection is right here. 

 You Poop Here by Paul Meisel. Holiday House. ISBN 9780823446018.
Toddler-PreS–In a field filled with gendered books about toilet training, this refreshing title stands out by encouraging all children to see pooping, and by extension the use of the potty, as a universal, cross-gender, interspecies need. Lively illustrations in acrylic ink-on-paper are accompanied by sparse text, with each illustration depicting an organism defecating. The portrayals are comical and not scientifically accurate, focusing not on the action but on the location the act takes place. The only difference between an ant, a monkey, an alligator, and a child comes down to one question: “Where do you poop?” The title draws toward a fitting conclusion while accompanying illustrations feature a racially inclusive cast all using the potty because “You poop here!” Included at the end are fun facts about poop and a short primer on what it is. An ideal complement to Taro Gomi’s classic Everyone Poops.

[Travis Jonker compiles an annual list of “poop” books that might just fit the bill and add some levity to a tough situation. Take a look at his 2022 Poop Report.]

Super Pooper and Whizz Kid: Potty Power! by Sabrina Moyle & Eunice Moyle. Abrams. ISBN 9781419731570.
Toddler-PreS–The title characters (a dog and a cat wearing masks, capes, and underwear) introduce toilet-training etiquette via playful potty and superhero puns that will elicit giggles from both tots and grown-ups alike. Bright, Technicolor art; jazzy and star-filled backgrounds; and bold font that ranges from cursive to block letters give young children lots to pore over in this busy primer about all things #1 and #2. VERDICT Complete with reminders on wiping and scrubbing hands with soap, this hilarious take on an important early child collection staple is a must-have.

Potty by Leslie Patricelli. Candlewick. ISBN 9780763644765.
Baby-Toddler–The impish, oval-headed, gender-neutral toddler with the single squiggly curl, rosy-apple cheeks, and ear-to-ear grin continues to explore the world. The tiny tot first recognizes the urge to go, then realizes a diaper isn't the only place to take care of business. After a couple of false starts, the kid squats on a little plastic potty; eventually, with a "Tinkle, tinkle, toot," the efforts are rewarded. As usual, there's an abundance of sly humor in Patricelli's comfortably rounded, bold-hued acrylic illustrations—she outdoes herself with a multi-panel spread including the protagonist sitting, naked, on the tiny toilet perusing a potty-training manual. VERDICT Add to this the books' brief, child-friendly texts, and Potty joins the elite club of board books that toddlers will want to hear over and over again—and parents won't mind.

 

Let's Get This Potty Started by Rose Rossner. illus. by Vicky Gausden. Sourcebooks Wonderland. ISBN 9781728257501.
Toddler-PreS–Potty puns abound in this charming potty primer. Animal parents encourage their babies to follow the usual steps of toilet training, including flushing, washing your hands, and putting down the lid. Bright colors; smiling, furry faces; and cheery signs help extend the metaphor that toilet training is an important milestone that caregivers and kids are trying to achieve together. The rhymes and play on words sometimes gets tiring, but tots won’t mind. Silly illustrations bring the message home, from dancing toilet paper to smiling turds being happily flushed down the toilet. Though potty training isn’t always joyous, finally crossing the finish line certainly is. VERDICT A cute selection for board book shelves.

Chones, por favor!/­Undies, Please! by Sumana Seeboruth. illus. by Ashleigh Corrin. Barefoot. ISBN 9781646865178.
Toddler-PreS–Children will learn about using the potty in this colorful bilingual board book. A boy wants to wear colorful underwear with designs just like his older brother. But to do so, he must first learn to use the potty. He is supported by his brother and father as they practice, and he finally succeeds, receiving his new, bright underwear at last. The text is composed of short phrases shown in English and Spanish that correspond perfectly with the events taking place in each spread. A diverse cast of children and adults is shown, and the bright colors and dark, often bold text is eye-catching. VERDICT A great choice for caregivers looking for a bilingual option.

Lionel Poops by Éric Veillé. Gecko. ISBN 9781776574636.
Toddler–A rambunctious lion pauses his trampoline jumping to find a place to poop in this laugh-inducing board book. Unfortunately, he jumps all over town, pooping on innocent bystanders, vehicles, monuments, and, eventually, the sun. Finally, he lands on the most appropriate place to relieve himself—his potty! The feline’s changing expressions and impressive jumping skills will elicit giggles from little ones and their grown-ups. The character’s neon yellow fur and the bright turquoise background will grab kids’ attention. An unnamed narrator admonishes, “No, Lionel, No!” each time the lion misses the mark. The refrain makes this a perfect read-aloud and mnemonic device for its intended audience. When Lionel finally finds the correct spot, his proud and effusive reaction is 100 percent kid. VERDICT A hilarious choice for stressed parents and carefree tots.
 
Diapers Are Not Forever by Elizabeth Verdick. illus. by Marieka Heinlen. FreeSpirit. ISBN 9781575422961.
Toddler-PreS–Learning to use the potty takes patience and practice, and this charming, straightforward book, part of the “Best Behavior” series, helps pave the way. Young children learn how to use the potty and why it’s time to do so, while gaining the courage and confidence to face this important milestone in their lives. When little ones learn to “do what the big kids do” (go, wipe, flush, wash their hands), they won’t need a diaper anymore—they’ll have underwear under there! Includes tips for parents and caregivers from a children’s health specialist. VERDICT Bursting with colorful, easy-to-follow graphics that explain potty from start to flush, this darling and useful book helps caregivers see that light at the end of the toilet. 

 

For Preschoolers

Here are a few suggestions for kids who are potty trained but still need some encouragement to get to the toilet on time.

 

I Have to Go! by Robert Munsch. illus. by  Michael Martchenko. Annick. ISBN 9781554512539.
Toddler-Gr 1–This ever-popular story of a little boy in the throes of toilet training has been making children laugh since it first appeared more than 20 years ago. This new toddler-sized board book edition retains all the humor of the original story, but features condensed text that will make it even more appealing to preschoolers. Martchenko's exaggerated illustrations are a splendid complement to Munsch's direct and pleasantly repetitive narration. VERDICT There's a reason this book is a go-to for educators and parents alike—it works.

Clayton Parker Really Really REALLY Has to Pee by Cinco Paul. illus. by Gladys Jose. Abrams. ISBN 9781419748639.
PreS-Gr 1–From the screenwriter behind family favorites like Despicable Me and Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax comes a hilarious, rhyming picture book romp about knowing when to GO. Clayton Parker can’t wait for his field trip to the zoo. When his teacher encourages the class to go before they go . . . Clayton rushes onto the bus and doesn’t give it a second thought. Little does he know . . . Clayton Parker really really REALLY has to pee. He discovers this as soon as he gets to the zoo. And he panics! Clayton needs a bathroom, and he needs one now! The first one he finds is broken. The next one isn’t much of a bathroom at all. What will Clayton do? VERDICT A cautionary tale for the procrastinator in us all, this hilarious picture book romp will have readers vowing alongside Clayton Parker: “Before I go out anywhere, I’ll always try to pee.”

Who Wet My Pants? by Bob Shea. illus. by Zachariah O’Hora. Little, Brown. ISBN 9780316525213.
PreS-Gr 2–Reuben is going on a camping trip with his scout group, and when he arrives at the campsite, he has wet pants. He wants to know who is responsible. All of Reuben’s friends are supportive and tell him that it is okay if he wet his pants; it happens to everyone. However, Reuben is sure that someone else wet his pants. As Reuben retraces his steps and confronts his friends, he slowly comes to the realization that no one else wet his pants. The pants are broken! The illustrations are done in bold colors, and the adorable critters offer Reuben understanding and compassion as he struggles with his wet pants. VERDICT For older kids still struggling with potty accidents, this book on the understanding and kindness of others is a great choice.

 

For Caregivers

Check out a recent parenting guide that can be a godsend for intrepid adults.

Ready, Set, Go!: A Gentle Parenting Guide to Calmer, Quicker Potty Training by Sarah Ockwell-Smith. TarcherPerigee. ISBN 9780143131908.
Blogger Ockwell-Smith (SarahOckwell-Smith.com) is read by two million parents each year. As a prenatal teacher, birth and postnatal doula, cofounder of GentleParenting.com, and mother of four, the author provides tips for potty training. In the first chapter, bringing her gentle approach to a developmental milestone, she devotes attention to the physiological factors involved in potty training and how to know when your child is ready. The decision can only be made by your child, advises the author. As the text continues, she provides suggestions on how to begin and answers questions such as: Do pull-ups contribute to a mixed message that slows the process? Are girls usually ready to potty train before boys? She disagrees with the common carrot-dangling reward method, preferring a more mindful technique using effort-based praise and dealing with emotions involved in the act itself. Nighttime training is a common struggle for parents, and the author dedicates an entire section to solving evening potty woes. The last chapter contains common questions parents ask, and helpful recommendations of books and videos for children fill the appendix. VERDICT Newbies will find this a solid starter manual for the perennial parental issue.

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