Best Books on Potty Training


Ugh, potty training… one of the least enjoyable parts of parenting. Luckily there are some great books out there that can make the process a little more fun for you and your children. Here are a couple of our favorite books on potty training that are entertaining and offer some great tips.  


Books on Using the Bathroom

Goldilocks and the Just Right Potty by Leigh Hodgkinson, 2017

(Ages 2 – 4)

In this clever fractured fairytale, Goldilocks is a toddler who is ready to put her soggy diapers behind her and graduate to big-girl underwear. Readers join her on her journey to find just-right undies, a just-right potty, and figure out the just-right time to go to the bathroom. 

My two-and-a-half-year-old is just starting to potty train and when we brought home a pile of books, she immediately gravitated toward this one. My daughter is so excited for her own big-girl undies and loved watching Goldilocks pick out her own. I think it was also good for her to see another child figuring out the potty training process at the same time. Goldilocks didn’t get it right away; she made mistakes and had accidents and that was okay. Potty training takes time and persistence. She finally got it in the end and I know my daughter will too.

In addition to the great lesson on potty training, this book is a standout due to its illustrations. I absolutely love Leigh Hodgkinson’s mixed-media artwork and the addition of different font types adds to the playfulness of the book. Those children familiar with the fairytale will notice several nods to the original, such as the family eating porridge and Goldilocks playing with three little bear dolls. This book is age-appropriate, engaging, and just-right for potty training.


Sarah on the Potty by Pauline Oud, 2014

(Ages 2 – 3)

This is by far one of my favorite books for potty training. After potty training my son and having to use a potty chair, I really wanted to try and avoid that my second time around with my daughter. I gave her a step stool and a seat to go on top of the toilet and was thrilled when I found Sarah on the Potty because it is one of the only books that shows a child on a real toilet instead of a small potty chair.

Sarah is just starting to potty train and is excited about her new big-girl undies and potty seat, but when Sarah feels a funny feeling in her belly she has an accident. Instead of getting upset, she simply goes in and changes into another pair of underwear. Later when the same feeling returns, she uses the toilet with success.

I love how the book clearly shows children the steps they need to take to go to the bathroom including flushing the toilet and washing their hands. I also love how it keeps an upbeat tone throughout the story. Even when Sarah has an accident, she nor her mother get upset. She keeps trying until she gets it right.


Ian’s New Potty by Pauline Oud, 2011

(Ages 2 – 3)

Ian’s new potty was my son’s favorite book while potty training. Similar to Pauline Oud’s companion book, Sarah on the Potty reviewed above, Ian is just learning how to identify when is the right time to use the bathroom. His mom buys him new “big boy” underwear and a new red potty to help him through the process. When he has an accident, there are no tears. He learns from his mistake and uses the potty the next time. The only downside to this book, is that after reading it, I had to buy my son a red potty just like Ian’s!


I Use the Potty (Big Kid Power series) by Maria van Lieshout, 2016

(Ages 2 – 3)

This book mixes in humor and onomatopoeia to engage children in the potty training process. A little boy begins telling readers about his time as a baby when he created terribly stinky diapers. Now, he is a big kid and wears underwear. He describes how he uses the toilet and celebrates his new role as a big kid. My two-and-a-half-old daughter just loved this book. She laughed at the beginning and wanted to try using the toilet by the end.


Diapers are Not Forever by Elizabeth Verdick , 2008

(Ages 2 – 3)

This board book does an excellent job of introducing the concept of potty training to young children. Using simple illustrations and concise language, a diverse group of children demonstrate how to use the bathroom. “Girls sit down to pee or poop. Then they wipe and flush. Boys can do the same and also can pee standing up.” The straightforward text and pictures are effective and engaging. My daughter loved this book and asked for it night after night during our potty training process. Lastly, it provides tips on potty training for parents and care givers in the back.


Potty (series) by Leslie Patricelli, 2010

(Ages 2 – 3)

This is another board book series that you just can’t go wrong with. Toddlers love Patricelli’s comical baby. In this installment, the baby needs to go to the bathroom. He doesn’t want to go in his diaper, so he investigates what the household pets do then decides to attempt his potty. After waiting a long time, something finally happens and he and his family celebrates his success. The last two-page spread reveals his next big decision, what type of underwear to get. Simple language, bright background, and slight humor make this book a winner. I read this book when potty training both my son and daughter and it was a definite favorite of theirs.  


Everyone Poops  by Taro Gomi, 1977 (reissued 2001)

(Ages 2 – 4)

It is a fact that kids love talking about poop and my son was no exception. He absolutely loved this classic potty training book that shows a range of animals and people pooping. I think he was comforted to know that pooping is a natural thing that everyone does, so there is no reason to be embarrassed by it.


Even Firefighters go to the Potty : a potty training lift-the-flap story by Wendy Wax and Naomi Wax; illustrated by Stephen Gilpin, 2008

(Ages 2 – 3)

An alarm is sounding, but the firefighter is nowhere to be found. Children lift a flap to reveal the firefighter is in the bathroom. This comical book shows a variety of community members using the bathroom reminding children that even their role models visit the restroom.  My son absolutely loved this book and asked for repeated readings during the potty training process.


Potty Superhero: Get Ready for Big Boy Pants by Parragon Books, 2013

(Ages 2 – 3)

Flowing rhymes describe how a boy dressed as a super hero is learning to use the potty. He has a funny feeling and sits on his potty chair, but nothing happens. He gives up and goes outside to play only to discover that he has had an accident. He goes back to the potty, counts to ten and succeeds in his mission. “Hurray! I used the potty, now I’m diaper free! Soon you’ll use your potty too and wear big boy pants like me!” Even though this is clearly geared more toward boys, my daughter loves superheroes and enjoyed this book.


The Potty Book for Girls by Alyssa Satin Capucilli; illustrations by Dorothy Stott, 2000

(Ages 2 – 3)

Hannah is growing up and becoming more independent each day. When she receives a potty, she tries to use it, but has several accidents. Her supportive parents reassure her and she finds success at the end. “Hooray, I say. I did it! I’m really glad I tried! Mom and Dad are happy and I feel great inside!” She goes to the store to pick out her own underwear and encourages the reader that they can do it too. The book is small in size, which makes it perfect for little hands. My daughter was
fascinated by Hannah’s teddy bear who follows her on her potty adventure. My daughter was so intrigued that the teddy was moving through the pages, reading books, eating cookies, etc. She thought it was hilarious and requested this book several times.

Alyssa Satin Capucilli is well known for her Biscuit series, so you know you can’t go wrong with a best selling author.

The companion book The Potty Book for Boys is virtually the same.


Books on Underwear

The strategy that worked the best when potty training my son was getting him excited about wearing underwear. Below are a few of our favorite books on underwear that both made him laugh and got him interested in the idea of big kid underwear. 

Big Girl Panties by Fran Manushkin; illustrated by Valeria Petrone, 2012

(Ages 2 – 3)

I personally despise the word, “panties”, but I can’t deny how much my daughter loves this book. It is such a fun celebration of saying good-bye to diapers and hello to underwear it’s hard not to love. Short, rhyming text follows a little girl sporting pig-tails as she shows off all of her new big-girl undies. This book promoted a
fun conversation with my daughter about what kind of underwear she wants and it got her excited to start the potty training process, so that she can have her own big-girl panties.

The companion book, Big Boy Underpants (2016), is equally as great for boys. Even my daughter loved the boy version and asked for repeated readings.


My Big Girl Undies by Karen Katz; published by Grosset & Dunlap, 2012

(Ages 2 – 3)

This book features Karen Katz’s signature illustrations as a group of diverse children celebrate growing up and wearing underwear. The book also points out that accidents can happen, but that is okay. It can be an opportunity to pick out a new pair of underwear to put on. Children seem to always gravitate to Karen Katz’s work, but parents should be aware that unlike her other books, this one does not have any lift-the-flaps. There is also a boy version titled, My Big Boy Undies (2012).


Vegetables in Underwear by Jared Chapman, 2015

(Ages 2 – 5)

For some reason underwear is hilarious to kids and the idea of vegetables in underwear is especially funny. The story centers on a little floret of broccoli who leads the reader on a tour celebrating underwear. Using brightly colored illustrations surrounded by white space, an assortment of vegetables present different types of underwear. This book also slyly weaves in opposites and days of the week making it not only funny but educational as well!  One two-page spread points out that the baby veggies still have to wear diapers and only the big kid veggies get special undies. This will hopefully inspire other big kid wanna-be’s to put their soggy diapers behind them and graduate to their own underwear.


Polar Bear’s Underwear by Tupera Tupera, 2015

(Ages 2 – 5)

A white polar bear has lost his underwear and enlists his friend Mouse to help him find it. Each page reveals a new friend with their own comical underwear. My son absolutely adored this hilarious book. The surprise ending is comical and never got old even after several repeated readings. 



Books for Preschool Age Children

Time to Pee! by Mo Willems, 2003

(Ages 3 – 5)

Once my son was finally potty trained he went through a brief period of having accidents. He simply did not want to stop what he was doing to go to the bathroom. Usually he was having too much fun playing with his toys and didn’t want to miss out on anything by visiting the toilet. Time to Pee by Mo Willems was the perfect book to remind him of the importance of stopping whatever he is doing, no matter how much fun it is, to go to the bathroom. It was good for him to recognize that his toys will always be there when he gets back. 


Potty Animals: What to Know When You’ve Gotta Go by Hope Verstegaard; illustrated by Valeria Petrone, 2010

(Ages 3 – 5)

Once children figure out how and when to go to the bathroom, they sometimes need a reminder of the polite guidelines for using the bathroom. Each two-page spread focuses on an anthropomorphic animal learning to wash their hands, close the door, not barge in on others, etc. This book is helpful for older toddlers or preschool students learning the rules of the bathroom.   


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