Books about Poop

Poop! by Susan Fry

Let’s face facts – to kids, there’s nothing funnier than poop. Even a single mention of the word can make them laugh so hard they throw up. When my youngest son tells knock-knock jokes, his answer to “Who’s there?” is always, “Poop!” My older son can look at any brown substance – a clod of dirt, a scoop of chocolate ice cream, my homemade meatballs – and shout, triumphantly, “It’s poop!” And they get bonus points for using the word in a public place, such as the library.

Judging from the films of Seth Rogen and Judd Apatow, this fascination doesn’t end with childhood.

I could spend the next forty years apologizing for my kids’ behavior. But I decided, instead, to get in on the joke. So I dug out a bunch of books on how the body works. To my surprise, even the ones willing to photograph skulls and diagram eyeballs were coy about the final stage of the digestive process.

So I dug deeper (ahem) and found these books. They give kids the low down on the down low. And grownups might find themselves laughing, too.


Flush: The Scoop on Poop Throughout the Ages, by Charise Mericle Harper. Want to give your kids an unusual, but essential, introduction to history? Cute rhymes bounce through the Roman Empire (where they cleaned their bottoms with sponges on sticks) to the chamber pots of revolutionary France. Your kids might appreciate clean bathrooms more when they learn that sewage used to be thrown out windows: “Move your feet and don’t get stuck/ or you’ll be covered in stinky muck!” Everyone will enjoy comparing potties around the world, from squat toilets to the super-luxurious Japanese machines, which include seat warmers. And wait until you learn about pooping in space . . . . The drawings are colorful and childlike, which makes the gross parts much more, er, palatable.


The Truth About Poop, by Susan Goodman, illustrated by Elwood H. Smith. “It’s time to take poop out of the closet,” proclaims this fact-filled and hilarious overview of poop, which describes everything from how the body works to toilets (or the lack thereof) throughout history. The section on animals alone is enough to make a science teacher proud. Where else could your kids learn about the weight of a T-Rex’s poop (16 pounds) or “weaponized” insect poop? Kids who wonder where all their poop goes will find the answer on a page that traces the path from flush to water treatment center. Cheerful comic-strip style cartoons nicely downplay the ick factor.


What Happens to a Hamburger? (Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science 2), by Paul Showers, illustrated by Edward Miller. How, exactly, does food become poop? A cheerful waiter in a retro-looking diner asks kids about their favorite foods, and then describes the digestive process from chewing to the absorption of nutrients in the intestines. The vocabulary may be a stretch, but the clear cartoons (including one of the whole digestive system) make the journey clear even for younger children.

Susan Fry is a writer and mother in the San Francisco Bay Area. She’s written for Stanford Magazine, salon, the San Jose Mercury News, and many other publications. You will find links to all of her children’s book reviews on our Toys & Books page.

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