Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Begin Smart: Lily's Potty, Pete's Potty


Begin Smart: Eschew the potty books

I have a number of Begin Smart board books to review, but I'm going to start with just two. The others are for younger ages and are currently being "reviewed" by my colleague's two-year-old son and new baby!

These two potty books are for "smart toddlers from two to three years". Each book has the same text and illustration, with the appropriate changes for either Lily or Pete. A sample of the text: "Where is Pete's potty?/It's for poo and pee./Is it under the bed?/Let's look and see." Each spread has a full page lift-the-flap showing the child and sometimes an adult with a small dialogue balloon saying things like "No potty!" Finally, the child finds their potty in the bathroom and finishes up by washing their hands.

First of all, I have to admit that I've always thought potty books were kinda....stupid. I mean, a book about things you do everyday that includes going potty as a normal do-every-day kind of thing yeah, but have you seen those freaky ones where you're supposed to sing songs about going potty? Yeah, we own some at the library and I'm not casting aspersions on any parents' potty-training method, but I think people stress out about the whole thing waaaay too much. Anyways.

I showed these to Miss Pattie, who does our baby and toddler storytimes and she said the only thing she liked was the flaps. For Miss Pattie, that's harsh. She showed some to parents and they apparently went into hysterics, when she asked if anybody would read them aloud, although some people liked the cheerful illustrations and would be ok with reading them to their child alone.

The main problem with the books is that....they're not really about going potty. You have all the fun lift-the-flap activities (why? has the child hidden their potty? are they hiding from their parents trying to make them go potty?) and then you have the child sitting on the potty and washing their hands afterwards. Good point, that. But why have separate girl and boy books? Other than Lily going to need a clean dress, because kiddo you forgot to hold up your ruffles, both kids do exactly the same thing right down to actual potty action. Mom's probably going to have to clean the rug up in front of Pete by the way. The way he's wiggling around and not, you know, aiming.

So, these have bright, attractive art, fun lift-the-flap action, but other than familiarizing your child with the words "poo," "pee," and "potty," it's not going to actually assist in potty-training. Even the publisher doesn't expect it to - the back says "This book encourages: Story progression, small motor skills, remembering, matching words and actions, parent-child interaction." No mention of potty-training. However, there's a note to parents at the beginning enouraging dialogic reading and telling them how they can use this book as part of their potty-training and it is pretty sensible and practical advice.

I do think some parents are going to want these - they're desperate enough to take anything we have on potty-training and I know some people go on the theory of reading lots of books and showing lots of pictures of kids going potty to get their child used to the idea, so I will donate these to our Tough Topics collection.

I know, it's a weird place to put potty books, but our TT collection is for books about "issues" that parents are supposed to read to and with their children. It's not a parenting collection. And if you just regularly catalog the potty books, Dewey puts them, at least with what we have in our library, somewhere between space and cooking, which is just....wrong. Anyways, we'll see how they circulate given access to a wider audience. We don't have any of the Begin Smart series and the librarian from the next town over said they were VERY popular with her parents, although she didn't mention these specifically.


Lily's Potty
ISBN: 978-1934618998; Published May 2010 by Begin Smart; Review copies provided by publisher through Raab Associates

Pete's Potty
ISBN: 978-1934618981; Published May 2010 by Begin Smart; Review copies provided by publisher through Raab Associates

2 comments:

Ms. Yingling said...

One potty book. That's all any parent can be expected to stand. For us, it was Cole's Your New Potty, which I can still recite. My youngest is 12. Thanks for that alarming flashback, but you are correct about these. Too much.

Jennifer said...

Oh yeah, I forgot about the Cole books. Those are pretty decent, there's some about getting a new brother or sister too that are good. I was thinking of that Once Upon a Potty series - it's got movies and books and SONGS. *shudder*