School is out, the weather is warm, and it’s finally pool season! Wahoo! Pool floats, floppy hats, and splashing around are all things I look forward to, but for some kids, learning to swim or dive can be very intimidating. I remember my children being absolutely terrified when they first started taking swim lessons. They cried and clung on as we tried to get them acclimated to the water.
We thought it would be helpful to round up a few books about learning to swim to help your children get over their fear. We couldn’t resist rounding up our favorite pool and water toys too.
If your kid is a more experienced swimmer, or generally into Olympic Swimming, Check out this collection of adorable books about the Olympics!
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Books about Learning to Swim
Working up the courage to take a big, important leap is hard, but Jabari is almost absolutely ready to make a giant splash.
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. In a sweetly appealing tale of overcoming your fears, newcomer Gaia Cornwall captures a moment between a patient and encouraging father and a determined little boy you can’t help but root for.
First swimming lessons can be exciting and terrifying, but this joyful and imaginative guide from Lisl H. Detlefsen, illustated by Madeline Valentine, shows young readers how to conquer the pool.
From what to wear (a bathing suit, of course!) to what to expect (no, your teacher will not be a mermaid), 1, 2, 3, Jump! covers the what-if’s and how-to’s of getting in the pool for the first time. There’s a lot to worry about (can I be sucked in the filter?) and even more to be excited about (when can I wear flippers?), and our narrator has thought of everything. By the time she’s ready, you to will want to jump in!
Llama Llama learns to swim in this sweet 8×8 based on an episode from the Netflix animated television series.
Look out, world–Llama Llama is a TV star! The beloved character, made famous by Anna Dewdney’s best-selling picture books, is the star of his own original series, now airing on Netflix. Our episode-based 8×8 tells the story of one of the most memorable (and sometimes scary!) milestones: learning to swim! Your little llamas will love relating to their favorite picture book character as he faces new and challenging situations.
Leo, Lola’s little brother from Leo Loves Baby Time, is back in a new adventure at the pool.
Leo loves the water! Leo and Daddy go to swim class where they kick, bounce, splash around, and dive like little fish. Joining other babies and their caretakers in the pool is a guarantee for unforgettable fun. This sweet story full of action and sound effects is a gentle introduction to pool facilities and parent-child swim lessons with a cast of diverse families who love to splash and play together.
Keep an eye out for Leo’s other adventures!
The Land Sharks take on the Algae Eaters in a dino-swimming showdown! Raptor and Stegosaurus start it off in the individual medley, while the Ptero twins battle it out in the butterfly race. Then Galli and Diplo wow the crowd with their flips and tricks off the diving board! But which team will win the swim meet? It comes down to the last event: the backstroke. Both Stego and Galli think they’ll take the prize. Let’s hope these dinos remembered their goggles―this swim meet is bound to make a splash!
Make a splash with Spot as he visits the pool!
It’s Spot’s first time ever swimming in a pool. Though he feels nervous at first, some support from Mom and friends means Spot is soon having fun in the sun–while staying cool in the pool!
A New York Times Notable Book of the Year
A NPR.org Best Book of the Year
Gold Medal Winner – Society of Illustrators’ Original Art Show, 2015
What happens when two shy children meet at a very crowded pool? Dive in to find out! Deceptively simple, this masterful book tells a story of quiet moments and surprising encounters and reminds us that friendship and imagination have no bounds.
Handpicked by Amazon kids’ books editor, Seira Wilson, for Prime Book Box – a children’s subscription that inspires a love of reading.
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!
“Take the plunge with Maisy and her friends as they splash and wade through their first swimming lesson.” — Kirkus Reviews
Today Maisy and her friends are going swimming for the first time. Eddie is a natural, but Maisy and Tallulah get into the pool slowly—ooh, it’s freezing! But soon they are kicking and floating and even blowing bubbles with the rest. Whether water-shy or raring to go, young readers will relate to Maisy as she learns to make a splash!
Backyard Water Toys
I don’t have a pool, but Jackie does. That means a) I need to find other ways to occupy my kid with water and b) I get to mooch off Jackie without having to maintain a pool of my own. This list is a compilation of our favorite backyard water toys and the toys I’ve purchased for friends whose pools I frequent.
Pro-tip: It’s such a nice gesture to bring toys for pools your visit frequently. Your host will appreciate your kindness and you’ll be satisfied knowing that while you didn’t supply the pool, you provided some of the fun!
Sick of picking up a million broken water balloon pieces? These reusable water balloons are easy to use and easy to clean up!
When my kids were little, we often played in the pirate water table – it provided hours of entertainment for many summers.
Now that my kids are older, they love to fill a tub of water and use their Playmobil boats inside. Playmobil is a wonderful toy to use in the water because all their boats really float!
Looking for more outdoor toys? We did a fun round-up last year too!