2 December, 2020
There is something about potty humour that gets children giggling, laughing, cracking up, hooting, sharing AND reading.
So when we are looking at children having FUN while reading, quite often you may find that this is the theme of books they may choose to read.
F...farts and fanny (a.k.a butt) includes what all respectable, moral, decent people DO NOT talk about...because gosh, how could they?!? Farts, butt, burps, vomit, poop, pee, the toilet, underwear are all found to be incredibly funny by children but not so much by the moral, the ‘decent’ and the respectable adults who either do not have these body parts or have not experienced such things or just have certain unmentionable garments in a twist.
WARNING: If you are moral and decent, this post may offend you, yet I beseech you...do not ignore this post...this is a must read especially for you.
Closet immoral? Reliving your crazy childhood memories when you giggled surreptitiously at such inappropriate matters? If your answer is YES...read on, anyway.
Most children in the elementary age group enjoy and are rather fascinated by these topics. Children grow out of their potty training phase during which adults are obsessed with training them to be aware about all things emanating from various orifices, hooting and clapping when they get it right, even celebratory phone calls to grandparents when they successfully poo or pee in the toilet, to then being shushed and ticked off for mentioning these words out aloud, when they are just a couple of years older.
As a toddler, a child may find a simple peek-a-boo game hilarious as much as he finds sounds and babbling of nonsense syllables funny. A child of around 2.5 to 3 years may find something absurd or slapstick funny, but as his vocabulary develops, a child who is around 6 or 7 will enjoy the play of words, ludicrous juxtapositions, and logical flaws. They also enjoy using words that shock and draw a reaction from the adults around them...potty talk does exactly that. It is suddenly not socially acceptable to use these words out aloud, and so of course it's natural to push the boundaries.
Potty humour is a healthy part of a child’s development and a natural part of their developing a sense of humour. Concerned adults, here’s some good news...it won’t last forever!
Like with anything that is taboo, children will find some way to read/ talk/ joke/ sing/ shout about what currently tickles their fancy. It’s best to give in to this need, and as an adult in their life, encourage healthy discussions around these topics. Offer children the silliness they desire and allow them to laugh their b--ts off, balancing it out with the sensible facts about these bodily functions, the body parts and all things connected with these. It's a great opportunity to use humour to give children the right terminology and understanding, as well as guide them about what is considered socially acceptable...no potty talk at the table for example.
Let the laughter that is sure to be bubbling within, free and enjoy special moments by just being silly, along with the children...when was the last time you let go? (Err...I meant laugh...truly I did. LOL)
As I read books for this post, I laughed and guffawed and realised that my humour is somewhere in the range of the under 10’s! Sigh!! So here are some inappropriate, fun, the-kids-can’t-get-enough-of-them books….
FARTS a.k.a. FLATULENCE: 1. WALTER THE FARTING DOG by William Kostwinkle and Glenn Murray; illustrated by Audrey Colman Walter, a rescue from a pound, stinks! The family thinks that all he needs is a bath, but gosh, the problem runs deeper. Walter farts. All.The.Time. He farts so much that the Dad decides that he needs to be sent back to the pound. Who would think that Walter’s farting would save the day!!?! A hilarious story, one that proved so popular, that it is now a series. While the farts, give you all the laughs, the underlying theme of acceptance will tug at your heartstrings.
2. POON POON by Swagata Sen Pillai and Krishna Chandran (translated from a story by Loveleen Misra on Storyweaver) Smelly or loud, silent or proud, farts can come as a surprise or a relief...Poon Poon is a little poem about what everyone does.
3. GOOD FAMILIES DON’T by Robert Munsch A fart, personified here as a big blobby squishy thing, comes into the home of a ‘good family’...overpowering those who live there, until one little girl decides to battle it with the smell of roses. A hilarious take, complete with sounds and fabulous characterisation of the fart by the illustrator, tells us that no matter who or where you are from, everyone farts!
4. PHISS PHUSS BOOM by Anushka Ravishankar, Jerry Pinto and Sayoni Basu (Chapter Book) The ‘wind’ blows across India with three fart-tales from Kerela, Goa and West Bengal. Grandparents, stories, farts...a rather explosive book!
5. DR. PROCTOR’S FART POWDER by Jo Nesbo (Chapter Book) A hilarious series about Doctor Proctor who has finally invented something that will make him famous….Fart Powder! This isn’t just your usual garden variety fart, but super industrial-strength farts that is ready to go world wide. Throw in some twin villains and you have a bombastic adventure!
One of my students once told me that “a burp was a fart that lost its way”...who am I, just some boring old Library Educator...to disagree? So added to this list is…
6. GEORGE BROWN, CLASS CLOWN: SUPER BURP by Nancy Kruik (Chapter Book) George Brown’s parents are always moving and he knows how difficult it is to fit into a new school. He tries to behave himself and erase his past reputation as a troublemaker and class clown. After a rather large root-beer float, George falls victim to the Super Burp- a humongous belch that makes him do weird and crazy stuff at the worst possible times. This is a series of fun and crazy books for elementary age children.
7. THE GAS WE PASS: THE STORY OF FARTS by Shinta Cho A simple factual book about passing gas, both farts and burps. Reading a factual book, helps take the edge off some of the silliness and helps children understand our bodies and why we do what we all do.
POOP (had to naturally get the honour of ‘Number 2’ in the list of topics) a.k.a. Faeces and PEE. Potty Training was probably THE most stressful time I had as a parent, while raising my children and there are now so many books about potty training. I have chosen however to list books that school age children enjoy, concentrating on those that could best be described as ‘Potty Humour’ and potty-facts.
8. EVERYONE POOPS by Taro Gomi One of the first ‘poop’ books ever, this a simple take on how everyone who eats poops.
9. THE STORY OF LITTLE MOLE WHO WENT IN SEARCH OF WHODUNNIT by Werner Holzwarth and Wolf Erlbruch One fine morning Little Mole wakes up to find something on his head. "It looked a little like a sausage, and the worst thing was that it landed right on his head.” So off goes Mole to search whodunnit, like a detective, all the creatures show him what their ‘business’ looks like. Ohh and what exactly does mole do when he finds the culprit?
10. THE POOP BOOK by Tejaswini Apte-Rahm; illustrated by Priya Kuriyan A lovely little book that takes the ‘ewww’ factor out of poop, making it pretty cool instead as it takes us through rather amazing facts about animal poop, from vultures to aphids and opossums too.
11. I NEED TO PEE by Neha Singh; illustrated by Meenal Singh and Erik Egerup A book every Indian child will be able to relate to trying to find a clean public toilet in India and the stigma often attached to peeing. The book highlights the impossibility of finding a clean toilet and the quotes little Rahi drops, empower children with what their rights are, while sharing the wonders of a dry eco-toilet.
12. POO - A NATURAL HISTORY OF THE UNMENTIONABLE by Nicola Davies; Illustrated by Neal Layton A tell all about Poo...what is it, where does it go, what can we learn from it...a fascination natural history book...one my own children loved.
UNDER WHERE? UNDERWEAR: Capt. Underpants, rules this section...much challenged yet no one can keep children away from his adventures. Here are a few picture books, which induce giggles and guffaws.
13. CREEPY PAIR OF UNDERWEAR by Aaron Reynolds; illustrated by Peter Brown What happens when Jasper Rabbit rebels against the boring white underwear his mother buys him, to buy a glowing green monster-faced pair of undies. Well they give him the chills and no matter how often he tries to get rid of them, they find a way back to him!
14. SANTA’S UNDERWEAR by Marty Rhodes Figley; illustrated by Marty Kelley This is a special shoe-in to this list, in keeping with the season! Santa risks leaving late on his gift giving spree, all because he is missing his special Christmas underwear. The story takes us through a range of underwear like tighty-whities, boxers, long-johns and more...until he discovers a special gift from his reindeer.
15. THE ADVENTURES OF CHADDIHEAD by Parinita Shetty; Illustrated by Saksham Arora (Storyweaver) An absolutely delightful story about a little boy who dreams of being a superhero...not just the regular kind who wear chaddis on the outside and the same boring colour everyday, but the kind who wears it on his head, and changes as the situation demands. How he would love to have a sidekick, but well, so long as he has a supervillain!
16. UNDERWEAR by Jenn Harney A charming tale filled with wordplay about a little bear cub, rather bare, who won’t put on his underwear. ( There I caught the rhyme bug too!!)
17. BRIEF THIEF by Micael Escoffier; illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo Put together a chameleon who needs to poop, missing toilet paper, a handy pair of holey underwear and the voice of his ‘conscience’, what do you get? One hilarious, absurd and rather clever book....soooo funny
TOILET, REST ROOM, LAVATORY, LOO: 18. THE TALE OF THE TOILET by Veena Prasad; Illustrated by Greystroke A look at toilets across the ages and across different countries. This one fascinates the children, something they often do not think about.
19. WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU FLUSH by Vani Vasudev; Illustrated by Samidha Gunjal A smelly, icky adventure with Nozy the rat through the sewers, after he falls into a toilet bowl.
FANNY A.K.A.BUTT: Leave all reason and logic behind with these two silly, immature, hilarious and rather contagious books…surefire way to hook a reluctant reader.
20. I NEED A NEW BUTT by Dawn Macmillan; illustrated by Ross Kinnaird 21. CHICKEN BUTT by Erica S. Perl; Illustrated by Henry Cole.
When I chose to write about this topic, I anticipated a lot of flak. So I’d like to add why I chose to write about this. Many parents and educators question the need for books on these topics. After working with children for 18 years, 14 within a school setting…(my first batch has graduated college), I can tell you that I’ve seen my share of potty-humour obsessed children. What happened to them? They are all wonderful individuals, they know their mind, they have strong convictions and I’m proud of each one of them. No, none of them are swimming in the cesspool of waste. I once read that these books considered ‘inappropriate’ or ‘trashy’ for children to read, can be considered to be the ‘training wheels’ in their efforts to ride through life as readers. Once riding on their own, balancing on the wheels of words and ideas, they move on, fearlessly onto the highway of knowledge, imagination, creativity and wisdom.