Jan 28, 2019

Facing Our Fears- With Help

If snow and sub-zero temperatures have you feeling worried, check out my previous post to enjoy a kinder, gentler, more hopeful version of WINTER. 

you could escape to indoor activities. I was in awe of my parents for many reasons. Among them, I was especially impressed when they continued their weekly indoor swim sessions throughout the long cold months of midwest winters. They enjoyed joining their friends in the water exercise group, and the activity helped them feel better physically. At least Mom did. She loved the water, but Dad existed in a borderline state of hating/fearing water activities. He went with her, joined in with her, because he was always one to face his fears. 

To overcome this somewhat threatening wintery spell, let's shift gears and read about swimming, of all things. Then let's also reflect on facing fears.

SATURDAY IS SWIMMING DAY is written and illustrated by Hyewon Yum. Here's the gist:
When little Mary wakes one Saturday morning feeling ill, there's no malingering involved.(That's Mary on the cover.)  She feels AWFUL! Those Saturdays circled on her wall calendar were not marked in happy anticipation. They indicate the mornings she will be going to swimming lessons. Her misery is deeply felt. She is worried about this process, fearful of that pool. 

On the surface (my pun on that threatening water surface is intentional), this is clearly a story for little kiddos who are afraid of the pool, or some other mundane childhood experience. Her fear is there, her resistance is there, and Yum's illustrations, pacing, and spare text capture it all well.
But I'll argue with anyone who says it is ONLY that. 
Just as readily as Mary's classmates plunged right into that pool, we can dive deeper and see that this is a universal human story. Granted, there are many kids (and older folks) who embrace adventures, challenges, any kind of change with a full-throated 

I believe, though, that even those brave souls have occasionally encountered something that caused a twinge in their guts, put a wobble in their chins. It would be a something that they recognize as scary for them, even if embraced eagerly by peers. A something that doesn't appear to have the least bit of scary attached. 
And yet... that gut feeling screams danger!
May each of us find someone willing and able to coax us through those times. Someone like Mary's swim teacher. Someone who knows when to stay within reach and when to step away.
Someone whose wise guidance allows us to own our success and face the next challenge confidently.

SATURDAY IS SWIMMING DAY is an outstanding example of the truth that picture books are not only for the young. It could be the right book for you (adults). If there's something lurking in your life that gives you that gut-punch feeling, lift your head just a little higher. Stick your neck out, look around for your own "swim teacher". Somewhere there's someone who will help you find your own strength, your willingness to face your fears, even if it takes some handholding along the way. Each out and take that hand, accept that help.

Another outstanding picture book about facing fears with steadfast help standing nearby is JABARI JUMPS, which I shared in a past post, here.

If these kids can face their fears, you can, too. 
I know it.
Feel free to share experiences in comments.

Your success stories could be the helping hand to someone else.


  1. Sandy, I love Jabari Jumps and I can't wait to read the one, too. Great post about the deeper elements of picture books. TY.

  2. Wonderful stories. Overcoming fears is not easy.

  3. Kathy and David, thanks for stopping by. It's great to know you'll want to give this one (and Jabari!) a look. The weird thing about fear is that we are ( or at least I am) afraid to admit I am afraid, which only compounds things. instead we often divert those emotions into our bodies What i really appreciated in both books is the way Jabari's dad and Mary's coach recognized the emotion fully but didn't fall into that "Don't be afraid" mantra. respect for the fear/anxiety and also the child's capability is a powerful approach to enabling others to face fear.
    (Oops, slipping into preacher mode! One reason I love these books is that there is no aspect of that "life lesson" that is overt, but ...)


Picture books are as versatile and diverse as the readers who enjoy them. Join me to explore the wacky, wonderful, challenging and changing world of picture books.