Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Toilet Tales

Author & Illustrator: Andrea Wayne Von Konigslow
Publisher: Annick Press
Ages: 2 to 5

Graduating a toddler from diapers to the potty is no easy feat to accomplish. The transition can often be intensely testing and stressful for both the child and the care-giver. When training strategies fail, it can easily throw the entire household at wit’s end leaving the key players in the process feeling tired, grumpy and overwhelmed.

Even well-meaning comments, albeit clich├ęd from friends and/or family, to lighten things up, like “you know, no child goes to college in diapers,” can be tad off-putting, particularly when the frustration from the failure turns hitting-the-wall kind of way. All too common in the early years of parenting and sure enough, most of us have our shares of toilet training complaints and woes, and may be, even a few funny stories some of us might like to cling on to for keeps.

Well, in my case, I am almost certain I wasn't aware that books can be useful tools to teach toilet-ready toddlers, until about the time came when I had to research options to train my own. With my older one, when she was exactly two years old, after a readathon session in the bathroom called the read-to-trainathon , we were thrilled to see that reading her favorite Dr.Seuss book actually kept our little one stay put on the throne. And before we knew it, in a few days, thanks to Dr.Seuss, she had trained herself to use the toilet like a pro.

The only downside to this approach, as you can very well imagine...for several days I found myself in an auto mode of repeating Aunt Annie's Alligator, Big B, Little b what begins with B? Barber, Babies, Bubbles and a bumble bee, Camel on a Ceiling,.... I am a Zizzer-Zazzer-Zuzz, as you can plainly see. And that needless to say, drove everyone around me crazy. Not an exaggeration, but admittedly I was very close to getting a round of professional therapy to help come out of the nonsensical talk mode.:)

Around the second time with my younger daughter, I decided take a deep breath and go a bit slow. While I did get a chance to browse through some instruction based potty books at my local library, I was clear I needed something fun and light-hearted in order to preserve my sanity (and of course, to keep my little one cheery) going through the sensitive process yet again.

I bumped into a Canadian classic titled Toilet Tales, written and illustrated by Andrea Wayne Von Konigslow. With a lively parade of animals, one on each page, paired with simple text focusing on the reason why the animal in focus wouldn’t be able to use the toilet, this book was an instant hit with the toddler in the household.

A goat would eat the toilet paper; A giraffe is too tall to fit in through the bathroom door; An elephant, too heavy he would smash the toilet into pieces….

Can you imagine the fun and amusing illustrations supporting the ideas? After a dozen or so list of animals, and the reasons why they couldn't use the toilet, the book concludes by saying, that is why toilets are meant for "big kids like you" accompanied by a drawing of a child on a potty. I thought that was indeed very clever to offer a toddler the concept in a fun way as opposed to hit-over-the-head. The book did bring many giggles and chuckles during the weeks of training.

This book was certainly a riot. My little one almost three a year ago, simply fell in love with the imagination of critters on a commode as well as the accompanying text that gave her a taste for some stimulating material in critical reasoning. During the training process, each time my little girl ran to the bathroom, it was only natural that our conversation would revolve around, “Can a giraffe use the toilet? And the prompt response from her side would be, “No, because....she's too tall…she can't fit in through the door. Toilets are for big kids like me.” Well, you get the idea as to how the concept must have worked at various levels to help ease the transition.

Reading the book was indeed a pleasurable experience and helped drive the idea home in a silly, yet gentle way. Not to make a big deal, but the only downside to some could be that the drawing on the last page can make it seem like it’s an appropriate choice for reading to little girls. However, in my opinion, I think it’s a very subtle thing that one can overlook seeing the big picture, and still use the book with toddler boys as well.


sandhya said...

Haven't we all been there? Lovely pick, Prabha. I love the idea of selling the concept of "the toilet is for a big kid like you" yo the little ones with their growing sense of self-importance.

Artnavy said...

I will have to get this one in a year or so guess..nice, useful pick

Sheela said...

Praba, was smiling and nodding along at your introduction... now that I am having a go at it with Oggie.

This book reminds me of Go Girl, Go Potty (Emily Bolam) we got for Ana - "Who sits on the potty?" is the important question there... "Does a Zebra sit on the potty?, No". "Does a sheep sit on the potty? No, silly". and such - Sara is the girl in the book - "Truck in the Potty? Silly Sara!" it goes as Sara plays with it until she realizes it's for her use and successfully uses it.

Another book in this subject that I am not sure why my kids like is Everyone Poops! (Taro Gomi) - pretty graphic, but, they seem to like it and get the concept.

And as you noted, getting the concept doesn't guarantee using it :)

sathish said...

Praba, When I first saw books related to toilet training, I thought the publishers were just going a bit overboard. There are quite a lot of books that deal with this subject.

I appreciate them a bit better now after being a father for last 8 years . But, not sure about the amount of books that are brought up on this subject though.

Just my opinion.

utbtkids said...

Praba, ROFLOL.

Been there, done that. By the time a parent can comfortably declare a child as toilet trained, he/she will have enough material to write a book.

Sheela, tell me about "Everyone Poops!". My husband looked at that book and asked me, "You are kidding. Right?!" But my older one liked it :)

Monika said...

i so need this book so need it let me try and see if i can find it

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