Teaching Brave in the Water

A Note to Readers


I am delighted to have Stephanie on my blog. We met online in 12 x 12 and are part of a debut author’s group, New Books for Kids. I adore Stephanie’s book–it teaches an effective breathing tool for overcoming fear and being brave! In this way, it’s a book that will appeal to anyone who has experienced fear. Plus, she’s got some way cool ideas and tools for helping you use this book with your students!

Welcome Stephanie!


Teaching Brave in the Water


Brave in the Water by Stephanie Wildman, illustrated by Jenni Feidler-Aguilar.

Spanish-language version Valiente en el Agua, translated by Cecilia Populus-Eudave.


Tell us about your book.

In Brave in the Water the reader meets Diante who would like to play in the swimming pool with other children. But he is afraid to put his face in the water. He’s not afraid to hang upside down, though, and he’s surprised to learn that his grandma is. Can Diante help Grandma and become brave in the water?


What do you hope your young readers will take away from your book?

 Are you afraid to put your face in the water? If you are, you aren’t alone. Fear of water is common, but you can overcome it. Being afraid when facing a new activity is normal. One method to overcome fear of the unknown is to watch your breathing, like Diante does. You can practice with him.


How might a teacher or librarian use your book in the classroom?

Because Brave in the Water concerns facing fears, a class conversation might begin (if the space feels safe) to talk with children about whether they have ever felt afraid, and what they felt afraid of. What did they do when they felt afraid? Did they have someone they could tell?

The discussion about fear could precede reading the book, saying here is one story about someone who was afraid – let’s see what he did.

After reading the book, teachers or librarians could practice pranayama – special breathing as Diante calls it – with the class. The book describes a simple exercise, with children standing and raising their hands while they inhale to a slow count to five and then lowering their hands slowly while they exhale to  a slow count to five.  I would suggest continuing this breathing exercise for 1-2 minutes. Then ask children how they feel, after practicing “special breathing.”

For bi-lingual students and classes, the teacher or librarian might read the book in English and in Spanish (one page at a time, alternating languages).

Finally, here is a link to a video made by Jenni, the illustrator, about her process in drawing the illustrations for the book: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V15-eQN8nnI


Can you share an exercise or activity that teachers can do with students after they’ve read your book?

Jenni, the illustrator and I, have created a number of classroom exercises to accompany the book. They are available here on the Lawley Publishing resource page and also here on my website, available to print in color as well as black and white. These exercises include “find the main ideas,” “write the main ideas,” “sequencing” (a cutting and pasting exercise), “topic sentences,” and “making predictions.” Also available are two types of peacock outlines suitable for coloring, in or out of the classroom.


What books work well with your book?

Two other books that address fear in the context of water include Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall and Saturday is Swimming Day by Hyewon Yum.  Like Brave in the WaterJabari Jumps also portrays a young boy facing fear, in this case of the high diving board. Saturday is Swimming Day tells of a little girl who gets a stomach ache when swimming day comes.



About the author

Stephanie WildmanStephanie Wildman has written five non-fiction books and over four dozen law review articles and journalistic pieces in her life as a law professor. Brave in the Water marks her picture book debut. For more about Stephanie’s writing see stephaniewildman.com and https://law.scu.edu/faculty/profile/wildman-stephanie/.





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