I’ll never forget those very first swim lessons with my oldest child. While we’d completed Parent/Tot classes at SwimWest already, it was his first time “on his own” at class, and he was NOT happy about it. I dropped him off at the steps to the pool with his brand-new instructor, who warmly welcomed him and I thought things were going to be totally fine….but nope! As soon as my kiddo realized I wasn’t going to be staying for class, he was a wreck! Crying, flailing, hysterical. He was just a toddler, and separation anxiety hit him hard, but water can also be a little intimidating for new swimmers and I think that was a huge part of his reaction. While the water was warm (yay for SwimWest’s warm water pool!) and the teacher was amazing (as always at SwimWest!), my son was NOT HAVING IT.
I debated pulling him from lessons. I debated rushing back onto the pool deck to snuggle him. I thought maybe he was too young, maybe he just wasn’t ready for the water yet.
But here’s the thing. I believe SO strongly in the importance of swim lessons. Drowning is a horrible reality and kids need to know how to stay safe in and around water. I told myself lessons were part of my duty as a parent, to give him the tools he’d need to be safe. So, we kept at it. We incorporated water play at bathtime, I took him to open swim so he’d become comfortable with the water and pool at lessons, and we read books to help make the transition to lessons easier for him.
Books are such a great option for sharing lessons with kids, showing them examples of confidence and perseverance and giving them insight into tricky topics. For swimming, it helps show how other kids have overcome their fears or challenges in the water, and there are so many highly rated books on the topic. I’ve pulled together some of the top rated options (according to Goodreads) and brief synopsis of each one. I hope you can add a few (or all!) to your summer reading list and get your youngest swimmers ready for lessons this fall!
Enjoy! (All descriptions are pulled directly from the publishers).
Super Cute Books for Kids about Swimming
Meet Kayleigh and read about her first time in the big pool. She gets so excited when she sees the pool. She is not scared of it at all and has so much fun. This book builds confidence. It teaches kids to be brave and to get out there and try new things. You never know how much fun you will have unless you get out there and try.
Swimming lessons are on Saturdays, and every Saturday one little girl has a stomachache. When she gets to the pool it’s loud, the floor is wet and slippery, and her swim cap is too tight. Her swimming instructor, Mary, says it’s OK to sit by the edge if she doesn’t want to get in the water this week. The next Saturday the girl has a stomachache again, but with Mary’s gentle encouragement, she eventually manages to make it into the pool to practice her kicks. Little by little, the girl’s confidence grows — until one Saturday comes around when she has no stomachache at all! In a charming and relatable story about trying something new, author-illustrator Hyewon Yum shows that sometimes a little bravery and a lot of patience are all you need to face your fear.
A feel-good rhyming story with a positive message about confidence and self-esteem, from the creators of international bestseller, Giraffes Can’t Dance.
Little Penguin Pip-Pip would love to join in with all his friends swimming in the sea, but there’s just one problem… he’s scared of water. Can Pip-Pip overcome his fears and finally take the plunge? This irresistible story shows that sometimes all it takes is a little bit of encouragement – and a whole lot of heart – to finally make that leap!
Cork is a short muskrat who can swim. Fuzz is a tall possum who can’t. They are best friends. Cork wants to teach Fuzz how to swim, but Fuzz isn’t so sure he wants to learn . . . . The funny story and adorable illustrations in this seventh Cork and Fuzz easy-to-read will delight beginning readers.
Everyone’s favorite frog learns to swim!
Frogs are supposed to be great swimmers. “Not me!” says Froggy, who’s afraid of the water. But with a little encouragement, some practice, and the help of a silly song or two, Froggy becomes an expert frog-kicker!
Jabari is definitely ready to jump off the diving board. He’s finished his swimming lessons and passed his swim test, and he’s a great jumper, so he’s not scared at all. “Looks easy,” says Jabari, watching the other kids take their turns. But when his dad squeezes his hand, Jabari squeezes back. He needs to figure out what kind of special jump to do anyway, and he should probably do some stretches before climbing up onto the diving board.
One sunny day, a little boy heads outside for a swim, but his pool is already taken . . . There’s a big whale in the water and it’s not budging! The boy tries everything to get the whale to leave. Nothing seems to work. Not fetch. Not tag. Not even offering his allowance. What’s a boy to do? Luckily, he comes up with the perfect solution: he decides to chill out on a spray of water over the whale’s spout.
This colorful whale of a tale from the talented Joyce Wan is sure to inspire giggles from little guppies!
A biography in rhyme relates the story of Olympic swimmer and Syrian refugee Yusra Mardini.
Have a great summer!