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Swimming: Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best kids books about swimming?

Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to swimming. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about swimming.

Our list includes board books, picture books, and chapter books. Board books are best for babies and toddlers from ages newborn to 2 or 3. Picture books are generally great options for toddlers and for preschool and kindergarten age children. Picture books are especially enjoyable for adults to read aloud with young kids. The chapter books on our list are generally best for elementary through early middle school age tween kids. You can filter to sort by the best book type for your kid, and you can also use our table of contents to jump to particular topics you think your kid will enjoy.

When it comes to children’s stories about swimming, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like Froggy Learns to Swim to popular sellers like Tail of Emily Windsnap (Bound for Schools & Libraries) to some of our favorite hidden gems like Jabari Jumps.

We hope this list of kids books about swimming can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book!

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Top 10 Books About Swimming

#1
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Jabari Jumps
Written & illustrated by Gaia Cornwall
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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.

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#2
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The Whale in My Swimming Pool
Written & illustrated by Joyce Wan
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-6

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!

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#3
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Shark Nate-O
Written by Becky Cattie and Tara Luebbe & illustrated by Daniel Duncan
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Nate loves sharks. He reads shark books every day, watches sharks on TV, and talks about them nonstop. He even likes to pretend he’s a shark wherever he goes! However, there is one small problem. . . . Nate can’t swim. When his older brother points this out, Nate works hard to overcome his fears and learn how to blow bubbles, use a kickboard, and finally swim without help, as quickly and as gracefully as a shark. Will he be able to beat his brother in a swim tryout and get his bite back? Kids will love this jawsome book complete with vibrant and whimsical art and a list of shark facts in the back!

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#4
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Lottie & Walter
Written & illustrated by Anna Walker
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

An original, compelling, and visually stunning treatment of a common childhood predicament: overcoming a fear of the water.

Lottie goes to swim lessons every Saturday, but she never gets in the water. That’s because she is convinced there is a shark in the pool, a shark that wants to eat her and only her. But then Walter appears. Walter likes singing and reading books and bubble baths, and his favorite food is fish sticks, just like Lottie. When Saturday rolls around again, Lottie is no more ready to jump in the pool than she was before. Or is she? Sometimes it just takes a special friend to find the courage that was inside you all along.

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#5
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How to Train with a T. Rex and Win 8 Gold Medals
Written by Michael Phelps & illustrated by Ward Jenkins and Alan Abrahamson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

With his record-breaking eight gold medals won for swimming in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, Phelps became an international sensation. In this picture book, Phelps explains the mind-boggling statistics of his years of training in terms young kids can understand. Full color.

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#6
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Maisy's Pool
Written & illustrated by Lucy Cousins
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

Maisy’s fun and familiar world reflects the lively adventures young children have every day.

In Maisy’s Pool, Maisy and her friends splash in a wading pool. As always, toddlers, preschoolers, and parents will find the ordinary extraordinary with Maisy!

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#7
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Ruby & Rufus
Written by Olivier Dunrea
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3
In this preschool tale from the world of Gossie & Friends, water-loving goslings Ruby and Rufus play on the pond come rain, sleet, snow, or shine!
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#8
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Hey, Water!
Written & illustrated by Antoinette Portis
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Splash! A spunky little girl plays a spirited game of hide-and-seek with water, in this gorgeously illustrated nonfiction picture book.

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#9
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Fruits in Suits
Written & illustrated by Jared Chapman
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-3

Have you ever seen a banana in a bikini? Or a tangerine in trunks? What about grapes in goggles? In this uproarious follow-up to Vegetables in Underwear, kids will learn that there are many kinds of suits–including suits for swimming, surfing, sunbathing, and scuba diving. But can you wear a business suit to the beach? Fruits in Suitshas the same irreverent silliness as Vegetables in Underwearand shows just how much fun swimsuits can be–and how important it is to hold on to them when you jump into the water!

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#10
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Cruising for a Snoozing
Written by Marcie Colleen & illustrated by Steve James
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

The eighth book in a funny chapter book series filled with full-color illustrations and adorable animals!

A group of sloths arrives at the Grumpy River for a synchronized swimming competition, and the Super Happy Party Bears are thrilled. They throw a party to celebrate their team, but the sloths just…sleep.

The residents of the Grumpy Woods can’t help but notice the giant pile of snoozing sloths, and Mayor Quill plots to get rid of them by shutting down the competition…until he unexpectedly gets the opportunity to show off his swimming moves.

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Table of Contents
Scroll to books about Swimming and...

Books About Swimming and New Experiences

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Jabari Jumps
Written & illustrated by Gaia Cornwall
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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.

Buy book
$15.99
Bookshop
$13.59
Amazon
$12.76
Used $4.59
Prices as of Mar 6
Add to list
The Whale in My Swimming Pool
Written & illustrated by Joyce Wan
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-6

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!

Buy book
$7.99
Bookshop
$6.79
Amazon
$7.99
Used $7.99
Prices as of Mar 6
Add to list
Shark Nate-O
Written by Becky Cattie and Tara Luebbe & illustrated by Daniel Duncan
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Nate loves sharks. He reads shark books every day, watches sharks on TV, and talks about them nonstop. He even likes to pretend he’s a shark wherever he goes! However, there is one small problem. . . . Nate can’t swim. When his older brother points this out, Nate works hard to overcome his fears and learn how to blow bubbles, use a kickboard, and finally swim without help, as quickly and as gracefully as a shark. Will he be able to beat his brother in a swim tryout and get his bite back? Kids will love this jawsome book complete with vibrant and whimsical art and a list of shark facts in the back!

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$17.99
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$15.29
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$13.99
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  1. Splish, Splash, Splat! - Splat does not want to have a playdate with Spike. Spike will break his toys and eat all of his candy fish! And he does not want to learn how to swim—water is horrible, scary, and wet! He’s sure that this is going to be the worst day ever. But when the rest of their classmates rush straight into the pool, Splat and Spike find that they may have more in common than they thought. Will Splat overcome his fear of water and get into the pool? And how can he help Spike to do the same?

  2. Froggy Learns to Swim - Zzzziiiinnngggg splash! 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!

  3. Gracie Laroo Goes to School - Gracie LaRoo, the youngest pig on the Water Sprites synchronized swimming team, is nervous about giving a speech at the Wilbur Academy, the school she used to attend–she loves her sport, but her old coach does not think that it really measures up to swim racing.

  4. Ladybug Girl at the Beach - It is preschooler Lulu’s first time at the beach and she needs to conquer her fear of the ocean in this hardcover picture book from the New York Times bestselling Ladybug Girl series. Lulu has never been to the beach but she knows she is going to love it…until she sees just how big and loud the ocean is. She and her dog Bingo decide that they will make sandcastles, fly kites, and get ice cream instead of swimming. But then the ocean waves snatch Lulu’s favorite pail. This is a job for Ladybug Girl! When Lulu is Ladybug Girl, she is brave and nothing can stop her from rescuing her pail – and suddenly she is in the ocean and it is fun! This story is the perfect preparation for a first beach vacation, or to explore a new experience with a preschooler. Mama and Papa are never far away while Ladybug Girl builds up her courage and confronts something scary for the first time. For fans of Fancy Nancy and Angelina Ballerina, the Ladybug Girl series honors courage, creativity, and a love of nature!

Books About Swimming and Sports And Recreation

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How to Train with a T. Rex and Win 8 Gold Medals
Written by Michael Phelps & illustrated by Ward Jenkins and Alan Abrahamson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

With his record-breaking eight gold medals won for swimming in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, Phelps became an international sensation. In this picture book, Phelps explains the mind-boggling statistics of his years of training in terms young kids can understand. Full color.

Buy book
$19.99
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$16.99
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$18.18
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Add to list
Fruits in Suits
Written & illustrated by Jared Chapman
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-3

Have you ever seen a banana in a bikini? Or a tangerine in trunks? What about grapes in goggles? In this uproarious follow-up to Vegetables in Underwear, kids will learn that there are many kinds of suits–including suits for swimming, surfing, sunbathing, and scuba diving. But can you wear a business suit to the beach? Fruits in Suitshas the same irreverent silliness as Vegetables in Underwearand shows just how much fun swimsuits can be–and how important it is to hold on to them when you jump into the water!

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$7.99
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Splashdance
Written & illustrated by Liz Starin
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Ursula, a bear, and Ricardo, a human, are preparing for the water ballet competition, where the prize is a million dollars! But a new regulation at the community pool - no bears - leaves Ursula cut from the contest. Luckily, she encounters a group of undaunted animal swimmers at a local pond, and Ursula and her new team figure out a way to participate in the competition and make sure everyone is welcome at the pool once and for all. Filled with deadpan humor, adorable animals, and big themes about social justice and inclusion, Splashdance is a fun and splashy summer story with a lot of heart.

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  1. Benny Learns to Swim - "A testament of true friendship." - Kirkus Reviews

  2. Stink and the Freaky Frog Freakout - Croak! Squeenk! Ribbet! After a close encounter with a mutant amphibian makes him freaky for frogs, water-shy Stink becomes a swimming success. Stink may be super smart, and Stink may be uber clever, but he’s been in the Polliwog swim class frog-ever and he still can’t bear to put his face in the water. Why would he want a geyser up his nose, on purpose? But then something weird happens: Stink starts to see frogs everywhere — in the locker room, in his boot, in the bathtub. And when a freaky blue frog licks his arm, his froggy senses start tingling! He has an urge to slurp up raisins (that look like flies). He can’t wait to play in the rain and mud. He’s a wiz at identifying frog calls. And he has become very interested in the local frog population. Could it be that Stink is turning into . . . the amazing Stink-Frog, fighter of slime? Pree-eep! Craw-awk!

  3. Leo Can Swim - Leo, Lola’s little brother from Leo Loves Baby Time, is back in a new adventure at the pool. Leo and Daddy go to swim class where they kick, bounce, and dive like little fish. Joining other babies and their caretakers in the pool is a guarantee for unforgettable fun.

Books About Swimming and Friendship

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Ruby & Rufus
Written by Olivier Dunrea
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3
In this preschool tale from the world of Gossie & Friends, water-loving goslings Ruby and Rufus play on the pond come rain, sleet, snow, or shine!
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Cora's Mystery
Written by Janet Gurtler & illustrated by Katie Wood
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

Cora is so excited about the upcoming school swim meet – she’s sure she and her friends will win the relay race. But when the team mascot goes missing, Cora is convinced her luck and talent has disappeared with it. She’s determined to find the culprit before it costs her team the race.

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Heidi Heckelbeck Pool Party!
Written by Wanda Coven & illustrated by Priscilla Burris
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-9
In this twenty-ninth Heidi Heckelbeck adventure, Heidi and her friends have a pool party!
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  1. Forget-Me-Not Lake - Sophie Mouse wishes she could play in the water at Forget-Me-Not Lake with her friends, but she can’t because she’s a mouse. Or can she? Find out in this third book of The Adventures of Sophie Mouse. <p/>Sophie Mouse likes being a mouse. So she’s excited that she and her classmates are making presentations for school about life as the type of animal they are. Sophie has already made a list of things she can do–run fast, scurry into small places, and more. But while playing at Forget-Me-Not Lake with her friends Hattie Frog and Owen Snake, Sophie realizes one thing she definitely can’t do: swim! <p/>Hattie and Owen are having so much fun in the water, and Sophie will never be able to join them. Sophie starts to think that being a mouse isn’t so special, after all. When Sophie’s friends notice her disappointment, can they figure out a way to get her out on the water? <p/>With easy-to-read language and illustrations on almost every page, the Adventures of Sophie Mouse chapter books are perfect for beginning readers.

  2. Surf's Up, Creepy Stuff! - Desmond and Andres battle beach bullies who also happen to be creepy monsters in the third book of the Desmond Cole Ghost Patrol chapter book series! Welcome to Kersville, a town with a spooky history and a collection of ghosts and spirits who are major mischief-makers. Most kids spend their days without ever seeing or dealing with a ghost, but some kids get stuck with a haunt. When that happens, they call Desmond Cole Ghost Patrol. There’s no job too spooky, icky, or risky for Desmond. I’m not like that at all. My name’s Andres Miedoso. I’m Desmond’s best friend and I’m afraid of everything. When you go to the beach with Desmond Cole, it isn’t all sand, surf, and sun. It’s more like, ghosts, ghouls, and gloom. And yes, being haunted while there’s sand in your swimsuit is annoying, but at least you can always count on one thing—beach life is never boring with Mersurfers around. With easy-to-read language and illustrations on almost every page, the Desmond Cole Ghost Patrol chapter books are perfect for emerging readers.

  3. Jasper & Ollie - Jasper, an impatient fox, and Ollie, a slow-moving sloth, head to the pool on a summer day, each taking their own unique path.

  4. Gracie Laroo at Training Camp - Training camp has opened, and Gracie LaRoo is excited to be back with her synchronized swimming team, the Water Sprites–but the other members of the team seem strangely uninterested in training, and it will be up to Gracie to set an example with a perfect triple spin.

Books About Swimming and Marine Life

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Lottie & Walter
Written & illustrated by Anna Walker
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

An original, compelling, and visually stunning treatment of a common childhood predicament: overcoming a fear of the water.

Lottie goes to swim lessons every Saturday, but she never gets in the water. That’s because she is convinced there is a shark in the pool, a shark that wants to eat her and only her. But then Walter appears. Walter likes singing and reading books and bubble baths, and his favorite food is fish sticks, just like Lottie. When Saturday rolls around again, Lottie is no more ready to jump in the pool than she was before. Or is she? Sometimes it just takes a special friend to find the courage that was inside you all along.

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Way Down Below Deep
Written by Nancy Raines Day & illustrated by David Sheldon
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Swim with the ocean’s most secret creatures! What mysteries lurk at the bottom of the ocean? Discover some of the world’s most fascinating animals, such as anglerfish, luring prey to a toothy doom with a siren’s light; vampire squid, peering forth with red eyes; and sea cucumbers, filtering food from the water passing through their bodies. Follow the lanternfish as he lights the way down to the mysterious deep, where whale worms sprout from bones and all varieties of jellies float free. Children will learn about these bizarre bottom-dwellers through clever rhymes and captivating drawings that bring this sunless land to light. Fun, sometimes silly, facts and images accompany each rhyming marine description.

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Swimming with Sharks
Written by Heather Lang & illustrated by Jordi Solano
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Before Eugenie Clark’s groundbreaking research, most people thought sharks were vicious, blood-thirsty killers. From the first time she saw a shark in an aquarium, Japanese-American Eugenie was enthralled. Instead of frightening and ferocious eating machines, she saw sleek, graceful fish gliding through the water. After she became a scientist—an unexpected career path for a woman in the 1940s—she began taking research dives and training sharks, earning her the nickname “The Shark Lady.”

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  1. Song of the Dolphin Boy - Finn has always been different and in the tiny Scottish fishing village of Stromhead, he sticks out like a sore thumb. One day he dives into the sea and finds that, swimming with the dolphins, feels completely like home. But his new friends are in danger of being injured by the rubbish that floats out into the water and now a supermarket is going to release thousands of balloons that could drift out to sea and cause even more damage. Desperate to help the dolphins, Finn goes to the Lighthouse Crew, a group of kids who have always left Finn out. Will they be able to set aside their differences to save the dolphins? And what will Finn discover about his past along the way?

  2. Baby Orca: Finger Puppet Book - Meet Baby Orca! Where does Baby Orca swim? How does Baby Orca like to play? Follow along as he experiences his world, from playtime to bedtime. The simple, comforting stories in this go-to baby gift series have made it a multimillion seller. Featuring a permanently attached plush finger puppet, each volume offers parents and children a fun, interactive way to play and read as they build a lifelong love of books together.

Books About Swimming and Animals

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Maisy's Pool
Written & illustrated by Lucy Cousins
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

Maisy’s fun and familiar world reflects the lively adventures young children have every day.

In Maisy’s Pool, Maisy and her friends splash in a wading pool. As always, toddlers, preschoolers, and parents will find the ordinary extraordinary with Maisy!

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Cruising for a Snoozing
Written by Marcie Colleen & illustrated by Steve James
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

The eighth book in a funny chapter book series filled with full-color illustrations and adorable animals!

A group of sloths arrives at the Grumpy River for a synchronized swimming competition, and the Super Happy Party Bears are thrilled. They throw a party to celebrate their team, but the sloths just…sleep.

The residents of the Grumpy Woods can’t help but notice the giant pile of snoozing sloths, and Mayor Quill plots to get rid of them by shutting down the competition…until he unexpectedly gets the opportunity to show off his swimming moves.

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Gracie Laroo Sets Sail
Written by Marsha Qualey & illustrated by Kristyna Litten
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-6

The Water Sprites are supposed to perform their medal-winning synchronized swimming routine aboard a cruise ship, but everything goes wrong when the piglets aboard start throwing things at the swimmers–so Gracie enlists the help of famous Rita Sinclair and her dancers to help impose order on the unruly passengers.

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  1. Adventures of Sophie Mouse 4 Books in 1!: A New Friend; The Emerald Berries; Forget-Me-Not Lake; Looking for Winston (Bind-Up) - The first four Adventures of Sophie Mouse books are now available in one enchanting hardcover collection! <p/>Join Sophie Mouse and her forest friends in Silverlake Forest as they make a new friend, look for special emerald berries, learn to swim at Forget-Me-Not Lake, build a fort at Butterfly Brook, and more! <p/>With easy-to-read language and illustrations on almost every page, this Adventures of Sophie Mouse collection–which includes <i>A New Friend</i>, <i>The Emerald Berries</i>, <i>Forget-Me-Not Lake</i>, and <i>Looking for Winston</i>–is perfect for beginning readers.

  2. Gracie Laroo at Pig Jubilee - It is Gracie’s first time at the Pig Jubilee with her synchronized swimming team, the Water Sprites, and she is the youngest pig with a chance to win a gold medal–the trouble is that she keeps getting distracted and missing her solo part, a triple spin dive.

  3. Baloney and Friends - Three-time Theodor Seuss Geisel Award recipient Greg Pizzoli launches a full-color graphic novel series about four funny friends that Dav Pilkey declares "will inspire young readers to write and draw their own stories"!

  4. Can I Tell You a Secret? - Meet Monty! He’s a little frog with a BIG secret that he’s ready to share. Monty learns how to face his fears with some help from his new friend—YOU!

Books About Swimming and Family

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Swim Or Sink
Written by Jake Maddox
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

Although only in eighth grade Baxter Reilly is an important member of the Edgeview High School in Tempe, Arizona, and lately the pool has been his place of refuge from the stress of his parents’ separation–but now, between the pending divorce, his father’s miserable apartment, his mother’s new boyfriend, and the resentment and bullying from his older teammates, it is getting harder to focus on his role as the anchor of the 4 x 400 freestyle relay in the upcoming races.

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Tiny Infinities
Written & illustrated by J. H. Diehl
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-14

When Alice’s dad moves out, leaving her with her troubled mother, she does the only thing that feels right: she retreats to her family’s old Renaissance tent in the backyard, determined to live there until her dad comes home. In an attempt to keep at least one part of her summer from changing, Alice focuses on her quest to swim freestyle fast enough to get on her swim team’s record board. But summers contain multitudes, and soon Alice meets an odd new friend, Harriet, whose obsession with the school’s science fair is equal only to her conviction that Alice’s best stroke is backstroke, not freestyle. Most unexpected of all is an unusual babysitting charge, Piper, who is mute—until Alice hears her speak. A funny and honest middle-grade novel, this sharply observed depiction of family, friendship, and Alice’s determination to prove herself—as a babysitter, as a friend, as a daughter, as a person—rings loud and true.

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Mister Seahorse
Written & illustrated by Eric Carle
picture book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

When Mrs. Seahorse lays her eggs, she does it on Mr. Seahorse’s belly! She knows he will take good care of them. While he swims waiting for the eggs to hatch, he meets other underwater fathers caring for their babies. Now Eric Carle’s heart-warming New York Times bestseller is finally available in a board book edition, complete with the clear “peek-a-boo” pages that made the original such a hit. Brimming with bright, colorful sea life, this new board book will be irresistable to young children everywhere.

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  1. The Camping Trip - Ernestine has never been camping before, but she’s sure it will be lots of fun . . . won’t it? An endearing story about a girl’s first experience with the great outdoors. My aunt Jackie invited me to go camping with her and my cousin Samantha this weekend. I’ve never been camping before, but I know I will love it. Ernestine is beyond excited to go camping. She follows the packing list carefully (new sleeping bag! new flashlight! special trail mix made with Dad!) so she knows she is ready when the weekend arrives. But she quickly realizes that nothing could have prepared her for how hard it is to set up a tent, never mind fall asleep in it, or that swimming in a lake means that there will be fish – eep! Will Ernestine be able to enjoy the wilderness, or will it prove to be a bit too far out of her comfort zone? In an energetic illustrated story about a first sleepover under the stars, acclaimed author-illustrator Jennifer K. Mann reminds us that opening your mind to new experiences, no matter how challenging, can lead to great memories (and a newfound taste for s’mores).

  2. Tail of Emily Windsnap - The New York Times best-selling series

  3. I Can Fly - Penguin wants to fly like other birds, but he has trouble doing so when he tries! Penguin is confused because he has wings and can flap, waddle, and leap like other birds, but he lands flat on his stomach when he tries to fly. When Penguin asks his dad why he can’t fly, his father tells him that penguins swim. But Penguin doesn’t want to accept this! Will he be able to find a way to fly?

  4. Swimming with Seals - A stunning picture book set in the Pacific Northwest about an alternative, multigenerational family and their love for their granddaughter, niece and daughter. Ally isn’t able to live with her mother. Instead she lives far, far away, on the other side of the country, with her gram and great-aunt. But one summer Ally goes to stay with her aunt and uncle in the “big city by the ocean” and gets to spend time with her mom. While exploring the shore, watching whales from the boat and dipping into the salty water, Ally finds out something important: her mother loves to swim as much as she does. This is a very personal story. Ally is based on the author’s niece, Jeanie, and Ally’s mother is based on the author’s sister, Sarah, who went missing from the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver in 1998. Jeanie is like a seal in the water, and Sarah was just the same, but they never got to swim together. In this story, they do. Swimming with Seals is a story that was written for the thousands of children who long to live with their birth parents and will never fully understand why they can’t.

Want to see books about family?

Books About Swimming and Social Themes

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Dilly Dally Daisy
Written & illustrated by Mark Fearing
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Get ready with Daisy the dawdler as she tries (really!) to get it together in this very real, very funny spin on dilly dallying.

Daisy Marsha Martin is always late. For good reasons, of course. She’s busy saving the world, or teaching her stuffed animals to dance, or finding the perfect shirt to wear. But if Daisy is late one more time, then it’s no more mermaid swim class for her!

This is the perfect story for fans of everyday silliness and for every kid who has been told to stop dawdling.

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Saturday Is Swimming Day
Written & illustrated by Hyewon Yum
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-6

New things can be scary – but as one endearing little girl discovers, it’s perfectly fine to take your time. 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.

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Tail of Emily Windsnap (Bound for Schools & Libraries)
Written by Liz Kessler
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-11

A young girl learns she’s half mermaid and plunges into a scheme to reunite with her father in this entrancing, satisfying tale that beckons readers far below the waves. <BR>For as long as she can remember, twelve-year-old Emily Windsnap has lived on a boat. And, oddly enough, for just as long, her mother has seemed anxious to keep Emily away from the water. But when Mom finally agrees to let her take swimming lessons, Emily makes a startling discovery – about her own identity, the mysterious father she’s never met, and the thrilling possibilities and perils shimmering deep below the water’s surface. With a sure sense of suspense and richly imaginative details, first-time author Liz Kessler lures us into a glorious undersea world where mermaids study shipwrecks at school and Neptune rules with an iron trident – an enchanting fantasy about family secrets, loyal friendship, and the convention-defying power of love.

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Honorable Mentions
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  1. I'm a Duck - I cannot swim, and that is bad. A landlocked duck is very sad. One day, an egg rolled out of a nest and right into a deep pond. Now that egg is a little duck, and the water is still very scary. Jumping into the pond at all seems impossible, never mind swimming in a line with all his brothers. “You’re a duck, and ducks don’t sink,” Big Frog points out. Practicing in a puddle helps a little, while backrubs and snacks from his mother help a little more. Big Frog offers to hold his friend’s wing and dive in together, but our little duck knows that some challenges need to be faced alone. Even when they are very scary!

  2. 1, 2, 3, Jump! - First swimming lessons can be exciting and terrifying, but this joyful and imaginative guide 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), 3, 2, 1 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 into 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!

  3. Holly's Day at the Pool - "NOOOOOOO! I don't want to go to the pool. What if . . . the water is too cold?" says Holly.

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