Explore the wonderous world of water through reading to your little ones
There's nothing better than sitting down with your child during story time.
We've found a host of books which feature water safety in different ways. From Beckett Beaver learning about pool safety through to the popular We're Going on a Lion Hunt, all have a positive message about keeping your child safe in, on or around water. If you have found a book that you think you should add to this list, we would love to hear from you!
Pippa and Paul
Anne Brunt/Donna McKenna/Lisa King
Pippa and Paul playing safely in the water is a wonderfully illustrated children's book which highlights the importance of supervising your loved ones around water.
Available free online:
Where Is Rubber Duckee
Janice Marriott/Ali Teo
Where is Rubber Duckee? has been written to help early childhood educators to generate discussions about water safety with children in their care. Our online companion guide uses the book to help you discuss water safety with your little ones.
Available free online:
Ready, Set, Sail!
Meg Fleming/Luke Flowers
Grab your life vest, hold on to your compass, and get ready for a day full of sailing fun with a playful tiger and turtle! This wonderfully illustrated book explores the fun and adventure of a day on the water.
Beckett Bever Learns About Pool Safety
Lauren Kelley/Emmy Mitchell
When it comes to preventing pool accidents and drownings in young children - especially toddlers - constant adult supervision is a must. In addition, parents can add layers of protection in and around the water by discussing pool safety basics with their kids before they go on holidays or walk through the gates of their local pool. Written by a former lifeguard and swim instructor, Beckett Beaver's simple ‘do’ and ‘don't’ format helps young kids understand pool rules.
Berenstain Bears - The Bears’ Vacation
Stan and Ian Berenstain
Written in 1968, The Bears’ Vacation tells the story of a family of bears that encounter various environments including water and going to the beach.
Berenstain Bears by the Sea
Stan and Ian Berenstain
The Berenstain Bears series is a popular selection for all parents. Written in 1998, this book is an introduction to reading for children. With its water themed message, the book is bright and colourful and is especially written for those just starting out their reading lives.
Leo Can Swim
Anna McQuinn/Ruth Hearson
Tells the story of Leo, Leola’s little brother who has just had an adventure at the pool where he learnt to kick, bounce, splash, and dive around like a fish! The story is full of action and sound effects and it introduces children to the pool environment and parent/child swim lessons. Contains diverse families.
Maisy Learns to Swim
Poppy the friendly Hippo is the swim teacher who goes on a journey with Maisy and her friends as they learn to swim.
Introducing the fundamentals including floating, kicking, and blowing bubbles, Maisy Learns to Swim is a perfect read for little children venturing to their first swimming lesson.
Follow the dinosaurs as they hop, stomp, and roar their way through the pages in various environments including water. The large dinosaur gets to lead out in the adventure with the baby leading them home.
Was a NZ Post book awards finalist.
Sacha Cotter and Josh Morgan
A boy searches for the secret of the perfect bomb. With training from his Nan, an expert and former champion, he achieves an awe-inspiring bomb. It has a very Kiwi tone in its language and it also has a Te Reo edition. Perfect for four to eight year olds.
Shortlisted for the NZ Book Awards for Children and Young Adults 2019.
The Great Kiwi Swimming Puzzle Book
Annette Barry and John Bennett
44 puzzles and hours of water safety activities on how to stay safe in the water.
Things in the Sea are Touching Me
Linda Jane Keegan and Minky Stapleton
A story about two mothers and their daughters at the beach. The young girl cries out when a small crab touches her when she is in the water and it is this theme throughout the book results in the catchphrase “Ma, Golly, oh gee, something in the water is touching me”. This book has a teaching resource available with it. There is also a version recorded online at Radio New Zealand.
Froggy Learns to Swim
Froggy is afraid of water but with encouragement and practice (with a silly song or two) Froggy becomes and expert swimmer.
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt
It is 31 years since this book was written, it is a classic tale of children exploring their environment. They talk about crossing a river safely and other exciting places.
Healthy me: Keeping Safe
Katie Woolley and Ryan Wheatcraft
Safety tips for children – water and road safety. A whole section is dedicated to water – swimming, splashing, and paddling. It also includes hints for parents.
Jambari is ready to jump off the diving board but he is not so sure about it. Lovely story about overcoming water fears and a parent /child story.
Saturday’s Swimming Day
A great story of a young girl who confronts her fears of the swimming pool and with the help of a caring swim instructor she ventures into the pool. A sensitive caring tale of overcoming a fear of the water, the book is a good paring up with Jabari Jumps.
Stewie The Duck Learns to Swim
Kim and Stew Leonard Jr.
Stewie the Duck Learns to Swim is a child’s interactive guide to water safety for children aged two to six years old.
The book was written by parents Kim and Stew Leonard Jr following the death of their son Stewie who lost his life to drowning. From this tragedy came the idea for the book and for them to pledge all proceeds of the book going towards drowning prevention programmes in the USA.
The story talks of a little duck who learns that he cannot go swimming with the bigger ducks because he doesn’t know how.
Full of fun and humour this book tells the story of a young boy and his friends at the pool. It has a song and link to a video demonstration of the book. Aimed at older children.
Grandpa and Thomas
Grandpa and Thomas come together on a beach adventure in Australia. Talks about water safety themes.
Henrietta Branford and Rosalind Beardshaw
This book is fun and tactile, it tells of toddlers first visit to the beach. Warm sand, wet sand, and sea everywhere the fun text is perfect for describing the beach to your child.
Maisy’s Bath Time
It's bath time for Maisy and she likes lots of bubbles! Touches on safety whilst the child having a bath.
Hiwi the Kiwi Goes Fishing
Mark Delacey and Tracy Duncan
A music CD, Hiwi The Kiwi Goes Fishing features songs and words about fishing in the sea and its consequences.
A Summery Saturday Morning
A local book written by the amazing Margaret Mahy this book is beautifully illustrated as it tells the story of a family going down to the beach. A witty story that is beautifully illustrated by Selina Young. A must read for every New Zealander.
A lovely local book that tells the story of Cow No 569 which featured in the previous book Cow Power, and its baby bull who leads along life at the Owlcatraz park in Shannon. The books are currently unavailable but if sourced they are a great water safety read.
Learn to Swim with Lou
This book could save your child’s life! Written for children ages two through eight, Learn to Swim with Lou teaches children ten basic swimming and water safety skills to create a healthy respect for and relationship with water. This book includes a skills guide at the end that reviews the ten basic skills and empowers parents and caregivers with how-to steps for teaching, discussing water safety and complimenting swimming lessons.
The Pirate That Couldn't Swim
Captain Flintlock is the strongest, smartest, cleverest, dandiest and the fastest and safest pirate that had ever sailed the seven seas! Or was he? A brilliant illustrated story designed to inspire children to learn to swim, about a pirate, Captain Flintlock, who had to learn to swim in order to help his crew and ship.
A Treasure at Sea for Dragon and Me
Jean E. Pendziwol and Martine Gourbault
Fun and safety go hand in hand as a little girl and a dragon spend a hot summer day at the beach. The two friends build castles in the sand, splash and swim, and race a boatload of pirates to a hidden treasure. As they play, the girl teaches her irrepressible friend to be water smart.
Heather Fell in the Water
Doug Macleod and Craig Smith
A hilarious story about a little girl who is afraid of the water, but ultimately makes friends with it - and learns to swim.
Swimmy's Water Safety Colouring
This colouring book is a fun way to learn 10 water safety rules and help everyone be safer by the water. Written by a swim teacher who in turn has swum her whole life, this book reinforces the need for children’s swimming lessons.