Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Read, Read, Read, Said the Baby: Begin Smart: Lily's Potty, Pete's Potty

[This review was originally published in 2010. It has been revised and edited.]

Begin Smart: Eschew the potty books

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 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.

Verdict: While these aren't optimal potty-training books, I do think quite a few parents will take them; they're desperate enough to check out 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. I donated these to our parenting collection, where we keep all the "issue" books, including potty training. They ended up circulating quite well, although the flaps did have to be reinforced. One title was destroyed after about three years, the other is still going even if it's a bit tattered. If you're just trying to fill in with more potty books, ANY potty books, go ahead and add these.

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


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*