My favorite books to survive potty training with humor and understanding

Why am I passionate about this?

I love supporting families through the challenges of potty training because I love deciphering the developmental puzzle of potty skill building – the physical, emotional, cognitive, and social pieces all coming together at the perfect time. As a “family time” teacher for over three decades, I know the stories and the setbacks. I want to be the voice for children learning to manage their bodies, their choices and their world. With a Masters and Specialist degree in Early Childhood, I have also conducted national webinars for Early Childhood teachers on collaborating with families on in-school potty training. I hope these books add some fun and sanity to your potty training experience!


I wrote...

The Potty Training Answer Book: Practical Answers to the Top 200 Questions Parents Ask

By Karen Deerwester,

Book cover of The Potty Training Answer Book: Practical Answers to the Top 200 Questions Parents Ask

What is my book about?

One-size potty training cannot fit every child and every situation because children come in all different sizes – different temperaments with different learning styles in a variety of different settings with different needs. The Potty Training Answer Book helps parents and caregivers customize potty learning strategies for success, with understanding and respect. And, most of all, without drama and power struggles!

This book is your guide to understand the developmental readiness factors as well as the developmental challenges that coincide with potty training like fear, resistance, and potty accidents. Parents and caregivers can then customize their “Positive Potty Plan” for each child’s individual needs. Every child wants to learn to be in charge of their own body. Success is inevitable when potty training is about the “child”, not the “potty”!

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of Everyone Poops

Karen Deerwester Why did I love this book?

Everyone Poops is the first book to introduce potty training to toddlers, regardless of where they are on the readiness continuum. It is a must-have in the library of every 18-24 month old. Watch children’s eyes as you read it and you will immediately know something valuable about their potty curiosity! Most importantly, it is the best example of a potty training book that does not push a potty training agenda. Everyone Poops is a biology book, no hidden messages encouraging children to give up diapers before they are ready. 

But, Everyone Poops introduces very important vocabulary. And, yes, it’s fun to say “poop” a hundred times a day while you’re learning something new about how your body works. And, Everyone Poops also reminds children that one day they will choose where to poop – some animals poop in the water. (Note to readers: good place to insert jokes about pooping in the bathtub!) This book begins the adventure of studying poop all around the neighborhood – the size, the shape, the color, and even the smell!

By Taro Gomi,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Everyone Poops as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 2, 3, 4, and 5.

What is this book about?

The beloved, bestselling potty-training classic, now re-released for a new generation!

An elephant makes a big poop. A mouse makes a tiny poop. Everyone eats, so of course: everyone poops!

Taro Gomi's classic, go-to picture book for straight-talk on all things "number 2" is back, as fresh and funny as ever.

• Both a matter-of-fact, educational guide and a hilarious romp through poop territory
• Filled with timeless OMG moments for both kids and adults
• Colorful and content-rich picture book

The concept of going to the bathroom is made concrete through this illustrated narrative that is both verbally and…


Book cover of Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!

Karen Deerwester Why did I love this book?

Yes, potty training is often about power struggles – about who gets to drive the bus! In the case of potty training, the child is inevitably in charge of their own body and you don’t want a power struggle to lead to withholding poop or refusing to pee in places other than home. So, be sure to add this famous Pigeon and his adventures to your daily routines. Let your child enjoy the bargaining, the pleading, the determination for power as they identify with the lovable Pigeon. Yes, children want power but they also need to know that there are grownups keeping them safe despite their best efforts.

While the book speaks to children’s desire for independence and autonomy, it’s also giving parents permission to steer and guide the “bus”, with humor and true appreciation for that Pigeon. Remember the pigeon when your child is asking for “one more trip to the bathroom” at bedtime or says “no, I don’t have to go potty” before a long car ride. You are smarter than that! And, never ask your child “do you need to go potty” if you what you really mean is “let’s sit on the potty before leaving the house”. If you ask a yes-and-no question, “no” should be an acceptable answer.

By Mo Willems,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, 5, and 6.

What is this book about?

When the bus driver decides to take a break from driving, a wild and wacky pigeon pleads and begs to take his place, in a hilarious picture book that perfectly captures a preschooler's temper tantrum.


Book cover of The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind

Karen Deerwester Why did I love this book?

Potty learning, like all learning and skill-building, requires brain, body, and emotions all working together. Potty training is also one giant leap into a child’s self-management of their own behavior. Potty training begins with “co-regulation” and, as parents and caregivers pass more and more responsibility to the child, the child takes over completely, often after a few mistakes, accidents, and setbacks.

The Whole-Brain Child helps parents and caregivers understand how to speak to the “upstairs brain” and calm the “downstairs brain” so children can organize their thoughts and behavior in constructive ways. Potty training can get emotional for kids and for parents. This book makes learning and brain research accessible for very practical daily situations. Learning is only possible when children feel calm and safe. De-escalate emotions and connect. The rest will follow.

By Daniel J. Siegel, Tina Payne Bryson,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked The Whole-Brain Child as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this pioneering, practical book for parents, neuroscientist Daniel J. Siegel and parenting expert Tina Payne Bryson explain the new science of how a child's brain is wired and how it matures. Different parts of a child's brain develop at different speeds and understanding these differences can help you turn any outburst, argument, or fear into a chance to integrate your child's brain and raise calmer, happier children.

Featuring clear explanations, age-appropriate strategies and illustrations that will help you explain these concepts to your child, The Whole-Brain Child will help your children to lead balanced, meaningful, and connected lives using…


Book cover of The Gardener and the Carpenter: What the New Science of Child Development Tells Us about the Relationship Between Parents and Children

Karen Deerwester Why did I love this book?

Alison Gopnik is one of the most inspiring researchers on how young minds think, grow and learn. Her books show us that learning looks and feels different in babies and in young children. Her book, The Gardener and The Carpenter, reminds parents that everything can’t be found in a parenting book. Children thrive with parents and loving adults who create environments for learning…a garden to grow in! 

Potty training begins and succeeds with a “positive potty environment”. If parents overdo, over-manage, like the Carpenter, children often resist or regress. Children need time and practice to master their bodies and their choices, to “own” their potty learning. Alison Gopnik respects parents being the parents they are more than any “parenting” advice. And that’s definitely good for potty training too.

By Alison Gopnik,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Gardener and the Carpenter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In The Gardener and the Carpenter, Alison Gopnik, one of the world's leading child psychologists, illuminates the paradoxes of parenthood from a scientific perspective and shatters the myth of "good parenting".

Caring deeply about our children is part of what makes us human. Yet the thing we call “parenting” is a surprisingly new invention. In the past thirty years, the concept of parenting and the multibillion-dollar industry surrounding it have transformed child care into obsessive, controlling, and goal-oriented labor intended to create a particular kind of child and therefore a particular kind of adult.

In The Gardener and the Carpenter,…


Book cover of One Big Pair of Underwear

Karen Deerwester Why did I love this book?

Underwear! Underwear! Underwear is funny! It’s a proud moment when a child graduates to underwear. One Big Pair of Underwear is the perfect underwear book to launch your Underwear Parade through the house to celebrate your child’s potty success! Hoist those underwear flags and parade with family and friends.

This is a fun counting book about animals who learn to share from a pair of underwear. It’s a book about problem solving animals and no one is left out of this underwear parade! It isn’t a book about potty training but you will see, once your child finally says goodbye to diapers, there’s no looking back. Underwear just become the new funny normal. Underwear books never get old.

By Laura Gehl, Tom Lichtenheld (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked One Big Pair of Underwear as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 2, 3, 4, and 5.

What is this book about?

Count and share with...underwear! Come along on a zany adventure with this Classic Board Book edition of One Big Pair of Underwear from New York Times bestselling illustrator Tom Lichtenheld!

What's one thing that two bears, three yaks, four goats, and six cats have in common?

They hate to share.

But look out-here comes a pack of twenty pigs ready to prove that sharing makes everything twice as fun!

This seriously silly Classic Board Book with artwork by the New York Times bestselling illustrator of Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site irresistibly combines the concepts of counting and sharing.


You might also like...

Tyrone the Tenor Mouse: The Singing Mouse of the Opera House

By Elizabeth B. Splaine,

Book cover of Tyrone the Tenor Mouse: The Singing Mouse of the Opera House

Elizabeth B. Splaine Author Of Devil's Grace

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Before becoming an opera singer, I received my Masters in Healthcare Administration and worked in various healthcare settings, from a community health center to a large teaching hospital. I learned first-hand how the best-intentioned clinicians can make mistakes, and how those mistakes can lead to unintended consequences that can harm patients. Although it’s terrifying to think about, the best defense is to self-advocate as much as possible. It’s your body and your decision. Don’t give away your power.

Elizabeth's book list on medical thriller/mystery with a spiritual twist

What is my book about?

Tyrone the mouse rehearses night and day to improve his singing voice, hoping he’ll earn the spotlight in the opera house where he lives surrounded by animal friends.

Ty secretly practices by hiding in the wings, singing along with the famous tenor, Roland L’Amour. When Roland becomes ill on opening night, Ty sees an opportunity to fulfill his dream. With the royal family in attendance, Ty nervously asks the opera house manager if he might play the lead role.

Although he’s nervous, with the support of his friends Stella, the precocious Persian cat, and Oscar, the mangy mutt, he finds the courage to take the stage and discovers that hard work and friendship can make any dream come true!

Tyrone the Tenor Mouse: The Singing Mouse of the Opera House

By Elizabeth B. Splaine,

What is this book about?

Tyrone the Tenor Mouse has a secret wish--to perform in the opera house where he lives with his animal friends, Stella the precocious Persian cat and Oscar the mangy mutt.

Ty learns the music by secretly singing along with a famous tenor named Roland L’Amour. When Roland becomes ill on opening night, Ty sees an opportunity to make his dream come true. With the royal family in attendance, Ty nervously asks if he can play the lead role.

With the support of his friends, he finds the courage to take the stage and discovers that hard work and friendship can…


Genres
  • Coming soon!

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in parenting, potty training, and counting?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about parenting, potty training, and counting.

Parenting Explore 336 books about parenting
Potty Training Explore 13 books about potty training
Counting Explore 22 books about counting