I Will Swim Next Time

Emily Joof; Illustrated by Matilda Ruta

Available to buy

Quick Look

  • This warm, lyrical picture book from African-diaspora author Emily Joof tells the story of a young child who is unsure of going into the water
  • An ideal book for children who are feeling nervous about learning to swim, or any other new experience
  • Contains an emotional learning message about listening to yourself and not rushing into things
  • Matilda Ruta's bold and characterful illustrations are vibrant and full of emotional depth

A young child gradually overcomes their fear of the water. This is a gentle yet powerful story about taking time and listening to yourself, with warm and vibrant illustrations.

236 x 290 mm
Floris Books
Picture Books
colour illlustrations
Age Range:
From 4 to 7 years
32 pages
Publication date:
16 Mar 2023


"The cool on my toes felt kind of nice.
As Mama held me tight, I thought:
Maybe I'll go in next time."

A child's first encounter with the sea leaves them feeling small and scared. What could be hiding in the dark depths below? When the family visits a lake and a river, the child's fear of water gradually starts to ebb as curiosity begins to flow. But playing in the water still doesn't feel right. Mama says there is no rush to try swimming, and that the water will wait. Maybe next time?

This gently powerful story about taking your time and listening to yourself, with lyrical words from Emily Joof, reminds us that it's okay for progress to be gradual. Bold and dynamic illustrations from Matilda Ruta bring the journey to life with warmth and vibrancy. A perfect book for any child who is feeling nervous about new experiences.


'Lyrical and uplifting text combined with gorgeous artwork masterfully tells a story of a young child struggling in a new environment and eventually gaining self-confidence and the friendship of others.'
-- School Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

'This adorable, sweet book is all about reassuring little ones that they can take their time with things they feel nervous about. Matilda Ruta's warm and generous illustrations of a black mother and child are delightful... This picture book is relatable for any child who has experienced feeling nervous of water or, indeed, nervous about any new experience.'
-- BookTrust

'Offers a model for parents looking to quell children's fears, support their dreams, and allow them room to grow. Given that many swimming pools have historically excluded African American communities and that Black children face an elevated risk of drowning, a narrative that spotlights a Black family reveling in the water is especially welcome. Gentle, inspiring, and important.'
-- Kirkus Reviews

'Joof's poetic verse glides effortlessly through the story and Ruta's bold colour palette fills the pages with deep blue and green hues.'
-- The Scotsman

'A wonderfully gentle approach to children trying new things. […] Featuring vibrantly colourful illustrations by Matilda Ruta, this is a great book to share with any child that might be about to embark on the unknown.'
-- Scottish Book Trust

'This is an affirming story about listening to yourself and taking things at your own pace.'
-- Juno

'A fun and effective picture book for any child who is feeling nervous about new experiences.'
-- Midwest Book Review

'What I love is both the expressions on the characters and the art itself. This book is undoubtedly a keeper.'
-- School Library Journal

'This quiet, gentle book perfectly encapsulates the hesitations of many children around water, by honoring their emotions and process. The lovely ink and watercolor art creates lovely watery scenes that are so inviting.'
-- Youth Services Book Review

'Told in lyrical rhymes, we are gently taken through her encounters with water as, over time, she comes closer to conquering her fear[...] This is a very well-structured poetic text, with warm and vibrant double-page illustrations. While this will specifically appeal to young children who are afraid of the water, it also has a strong message of overcoming fear of new experiences in general. Highly recommended.'
-- The School Librarian

'A vibrant and inviting picture book about a child gradually facing a fear of water, with lush art and a nuanced narrative.'
-- Green Light Bookstore, Holiday Pick 2023

'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...
A wonderful book to 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.'
-- Just Imagine

'This book teaches a valuable lesson to children encouraging them to listen to their feelings and respect them. […] This is a beautiful and very special story of courage, listening to ourself and learning to take our time when we feel we need it.'
-- The Kids Bookstagrammer (Instagram)

'The reminder that it is OK to go at your own pace and for progress to be slow and steady is important and much-needed. […] I also love the illustrations by Matilda Ruta; she depicts the relationship between the characters with such vibrancy. This is a lovely, lovely read.'
-- Bookish Way to Play (Instagram)

'This is a beautiful and gentle book to help worried little swimmers feel more confident in the water! […] We loved the bold and beautiful illustrations in this book and the way in which the little girl overcomes her fears and begins to love the water.'
-- Our Book Days (Instagram)

'A perfect book for any child who is feeling nervous about new experiences. […] Stunning illustrations.'
-- Play to Learn with Katy (Instagram)

'The book is absolutely smashing. […] We all get scared trying new things; this book goes on to show a little reassurance and patience might just make a big difference.'
-- We Read and Spark (Instagram)

'I love the parents supportiveness throughout the story and the vibrant illustrations.'
-- BookaholicMom (Instagram)

'Inclusive, inspiring, relatable, and important.'
-- SquarePegsRoundWorld (Instagram)

'A story of courage and persistence, ideal to share with little ones who are nervous about new experiences[...] A wonderful book.'
-- ParkSideReads (Instagram)

'Endlessly encouraging and infinitely inspiring, it is a marvellously moving story of trying new things and discovering one's courage... This simply stunning book addresses the topic of new experiences with grace and empathy, ideal for discussions between caregivers and children.'
-- OliviaTheLibrarian (Instagram)

'This book is visually absolutely stunning, I love the deep colours and the way water has been designed to take over most of the pages.
The story itself is beautiful and I know every single class in the world will have a small group of children who will see themselves in this book.'
-- ThePictureBookProf (Instagram)


Emily Joof is an African-diaspora author, education expert and mum. She writes children's books and stories with a focus on inclusion and diversity which have been translated into Swedish, French and Wolof. Born in Nigeria, Emily now divides her time between the Gambia, the UK and Sweden. I Will Swim Next Time is inspired by experiences with her daughter.

Matilda Ruta is an illustrator and author based in Stockholm, Sweden. She has written and illustrated many books for children, and has been nominated for the Elsa Beskow Plaque and the August Award.

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