Our History

One-third of American children are now classified as overweight or obese, a statistic that has tripled in the last three decades. To combat this growing epidemic, FIRST 5 Santa Clara County partnered with local community agencies in 2010 to develop an obesity prevention strategic plan. One strategy outlined within the plan was to engage children and families through a children’s book that highlighted a healthy lifestyle.

In 2011, FIRST 5 published “Potter the Otter: A Tale about Water,” a storybook that narrates the tale of an otter who teaches his friends to avoid sugar-sweetened beverages; and includes an educational component for parents and caregivers.

Since the launch of the book, over one million copies have been distributed by over 200 schools, hospitals, government agencies, and organizations throughout the United States, Canada, and Australia. The book has now been translated into Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Hmong, and French.

The book was also recently included in a community toolkit developed by the University of California San Francisco as a valuable resource for promoting increased water consumption to young children in community settings.




Due to the effectiveness of this strategy, FIRST 5 has continued to develop a series of Potter the Otter books to serve as tools for young children and their families to engage in a dialogue around key early childhood topics - including physical activity, kindergarten readiness, oral health, and healthy eating.

FIRST 5 recently partnered with the California Department of Public Health’s Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Branch to develop a new set of Potter the Otter books that encourage young children and families to prepare and eat healthy meals together. These books have all been approved by the USDA for use in the SNAP-Ed program - allowing public health departments and government agencies throughout California and the United States to purchase these Potter the Otter books with federal funds.

To learn more about Potter the Otter, or to place a book order, please visit our shop page or email info@pottertheotter.com.