Monday, July 12, 2010

Nonfiction Monday: A Selection of Swimming

I was asked by a patron for picture books on swimming - she's getting ready to teach her four year old to swim and was looking for "how to swim" books. Hmm. It turned out to be really hard to find how to swim books for very young children. There are quite a few (really, really bad - seriously you don't want to know) on water safety, but on actual swimming? This is what I came up with trolling through other library's catalogs. Let's Swim! by Carol Lindeen is a pretty pathetic picturebook. There are only 24 pages, including back matter. A table of contents, glossary, further reading, and index for basically 20 pages of text seems a bit ridiculous. The text features such gems as "Swimmers jump and dive into deep water. Then they swim back to the edge." opposite stock photographs. The text would make a decent easy reader and the photography isn't bad, but it's certainly not worth a $24 library bound edition, which is the only format it's available in. I know authors have to write these things to a set of guidelines, but the guidelines for this just aren't what I'm looking for.

ISBN: 978-0736853675; Published January 2006 by Capstone (Pebble); Borrowed from the library
The next title, Let's Talk Swimming by Amanda Miller is actually intended to be an easy reader. Set in the context of a race, this book talks about different strokes, practicing kicking, swimwear, and gives instructions on how to do a flip turn. This would make a good easy reader and probably a fine introduction for a small child, but I don't generally shell out $20 for an easy reader.

ISBN: 978-0531204252; Published September 2008 by Children's Press; Borrowed from the library

Swimming in Action by John Crossingham and Niki Walker is the most detailed of these three books and one that I think might actually work. It opens with a brief history of swimming, some water safety, and a guide to a typical pool. It lists equipment, and how to get started with breathing instructions, stretching, and treading water. It gives instructions for various simple strokes and touches on racing and pool games. There is also a brief glossary and index. This isn't quite what my patron wanted; she was looking for something aimed at a much younger child, but the clear illustrations and photographs should give a little one an idea of what they'll be doing in the pool and a parent can easily adapt the text for a younger listener. This will also be a good introduction for older readers, so I'll be covering a variety of audiences at only $13, which is quite reasonable.

ISBN: 978-0778703518; Published October 2002 by Crabtree; Borrowed from the library; Purchased for the library

Do you have any favorite swimming picturebooks? Alternate suggestions? I'd be glad to hear if you have anything better than these options.


shelf-employed said...

Truly, I think that swimming is one of the few things that is difficult to learn from a book. You've just got to get wet! Perhaps fiction titles that offer swimming confidence would be more helpful than nonfiction in this instance, although none come to mind. Just when you think there's a children's book about everything, you come up with a gap!

Jennifer said...

Yeah, I could think of several fiction picturebooks - Sergio Makes a Splash, Garland's Going Swimming, Edward in Deep Water by Wells - but she seemed to want something more fact-ish. Part of the problem is I've never actually met the patron, just heard her request filtered through other staff. Also, of course, a lot of the fiction ones deal with water fears and you don't want to give the kid suggestions if he's not already afraid...