Reviews /

I Will Swim Next Time

Authored by Emily Joof
Illustrated by Matilda Ruta
Published by Floris Books

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I Will Swim Next Time is a gentle exploration of a child overcoming their fear of the sea. It is easy to see why it has been selected for inclusion by Empathy Lab in their Read for Empathy collection.

The book opens with the child as a baby in a sling held close by their mother on the shore feeling afraid and unsure of the crashing waves. Through visits to a quiet lake and river the child’s fear gradually recedes and turns to curiosity. Stories are shared which allow the child to imagine themselves swimming but when they return to the sea the fear returns. Luckily Mama is on hand, as she is throughout, to reassure her child that the water will wait until they feel ready and one day the swimming pool is the place for that first encounter.

There are lessons to be learned for adults as well as children in this book. Letting the child set the pace for their learning while providing opportunities and support creates the conditions for a positive experience. Patience is important for the parent and the child and Emily Woof makes it clear that it is fine for progress to be gradual. Matilda Ruta’s warm and vibrant illustrations bring the child’s emotions to life, from uncertainty at their first encounter with the sea to boldness when embracing the waves. I loved the way the endpapers reflect the child’s journey by showing the child jumping in the waves at the end of the book, the same waves which look enormous at the beginning. Emily Joof’s lyrical text has a soothing quality which lends a comforting tone to the book, rather like waves lapping gently at the shore.

I Will Swim Next Time is a wonderful book support young children to understand that it is normal to feel unsure about new experiences and that there will be a next time when you feel ready. It will also help others to develop empathy towards those who are not yet doing something that they are able to. It is human nature to make comparisons and sometimes it can feel as though reaching milestones first is more important than the process involved. I would recommend this book to be a part of any Early Years or Infant class collection as well as a great support for learning in PSHE.

Selected for the Empathy Lab 2024 Collection