Review of Together We Swim

Together We Swim Together We Swim
by Valerie Bolling; illus. by Kaylani Juanita
Preschool    Chronicle    40 pp.
8/23    9781797212494    $16.99

Swimming is an important life skill, yet the legacy of systemic racism and continued inequities in the U.S. result in fewer Black children learning how. That makes this book, featuring a Black family of four, all the more meaningful. Enjoying a day at the pool, Ma teaches her young son how to swim as Dad and older sister (from Together We Ride, rev. 5/22) encourage and cheer him on. From the tentative “toe dip” to learning to float, kick, and stroke, the boy is supported by his family through his successes and a “small blunder.” Eventually, he gets “in the zone” and swims on his own for the first time. Bolling’s short rhyming text is accessible to those just dipping their toes into the reading waters. The illustrations in muted tones include lots of details: Dad’s tattoo, Ma and Sister’s swim caps, textured hair, and varied skin tones—cultural touches that embrace and celebrate diversity. Drawing viewers into the space of the pool, the perspective makes us feel as if we are immersed with the family. The book ends with the joyful exuberance of conquering one’s fears and with the calming steadiness of a loving family.

From the November/December 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Monique Harris

Monique Harris is a public educator, reading specialist and independent educational consultant. She holds a Master of Science degree in Education from Simmons University, and is enrolled in a PhD program at Florida State University.

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