As the parent of a water-shy child who doesn’t want to put her face in the water, I’m always on the lookout for picture books to boost her confidence. I want my preschooler to feel brave around the water, and I also want her to know what’s safe…and what’s not.
Whether you’re trying to persuade your kiddo to blow bubbles in the pool, or remind him/her to walk—not run—around the pool, here are some picture books about swimming you can to dive right into.
Leo Can Swim, by Anna McQuinn and Ruth Hearson
My own family is multi-racial, so I’m grateful to see more picture books with diversity, such as this sweet story, Leo Can Swim, about his afternoon in swim class with Daddy. For toddlers who are about to start swim lessons, this would be a great read. The story covers everything from changing in the locker room to joining other kids-and-guardians for class. I especially love the silly, fun language here: “They swish and swoosh. They splish and sploosh.”
Peppa Goes Swimming, by Scholastic
This is a good one for little fans of Peppa pig who get timid around water. Peppa and her parents try to convince little brother George to get his feet into the pool. Although he’s nervous, his sis is very convincing about how fun it is to swim. I appreciate the reminders for young kids to put on their “armbands” (floatation devices) before getting into the pool. I also noted that Peppa’s Mummy, a plus-sized piggy, wears a two-piece bathing suit in this story. What a refreshing way to promote a healthy body image.
Daniel’s Day at the Beach, by Becky Friedman and Jason Fruchter
My preschooler is a big Daniel Tiger fan, and I love the fact that this sandy, splashy story also reminds kiddos how to stay safe near water. If you’re taking a toddler to the beach, reading this short book for the water safety tips might be useful. For example, when Mom Tiger reminds everyone “to stop what you’re doing when I say stop, and listen to what I say if I call for you.” Thank you for that reminder.
Biscuit’s First Beach Day, by Alyssa Satin Capucilli and Pat Schories
Kids who love dogs will be drawn into this story about Biscuit’s first trip to the beach, but I definitely found myself making up some rules of my own in between the text on the page to insert some safety reminders. (“Woof! Woof!”) Say, when Biscuit runs out to jump in the waves—all fine for a dog to do—I cringed at the thought of a toddler doing the same. When it comes the beaches of northern California where we live, the undertow is very strong and a little running into the shore solo to jump over the waves…let’s not go there.
Fish Swim, by Rebecca Glaser
The dynamic photos in this brand-new board book show fish swimming, swishing, and playing peek-a-boo—which makes it a great intro for kids ages three and under who are just getting used to the water. Parents might use the fun fish “games” to encourage little ones to make their toes swim up, down, and all around, or “flap your fins” and “swish your tail.” You might even start playing in the bath before you hit the pool.
Does your family have a favorite picture book about swimming?