Local Swim Instructor Pens Children’s Book
Long-time swim instructor Michelle Consoles has written her first book for children.
By Grace Allen
Norfolk resident Michelle Consoles has taught swimming lessons for close to thirty years. She is currently teaching private swimming lessons using the Red Cross Learn-to-Swim program, which is designed to help students progress at their own pace. It was her experiences teaching area children how to swim that compelled her to write her first book, “Sink or Swim.” It’s about a boy named Nate who is afraid of the water.
Consoles, a tax professional, also teaches American Heart Association Heartsaver CPR and First Aid, another life-saving skill she hopes to instill in students of all ages.
She agreed to answer some questions about “Sink or Swim” for readers of Local Town Pages.
What inspired you to write a children’s book?
As a swim instructor, I have worked with special needs children, children with fears of putting their faces into the water, and children with general swim anxiety. I’ve also dealt with correcting problems from other swim programs and have worked hard to tame “daredevil” swimmers.
Teaching children with fear and anxiety is heartbreaking, because while the goal is to be safe first and foremost, I want children to also love and have fun with their peers in the water. Swimming is a life skill.
But it was while I was working with a child who was particularly scared that I thought, wouldn’t it be great for him to have a book to read about a child with the same fears about swimming? Because then he might realize that he wasn’t alone.
Can you tell us a bit about the book and its target audience? About Nate?
Because it is a children’s picture book, the book is geared towards children 1-8, but it’s really suitable for any child that is timid about swimming. The character Nate is a mixture of all of my scaredy cats and timid kids from the last 28 years.
How do you hope your book will impact young swimmers?
My hope and dream is that my story impacts and helps children with fears about swimming. I want them to realize that it is okay to be scared, but that in a warm and loving environment you can overcome your fears and even thrive.
I also think it is very important to acknowledge the fears but not feed into them. So many kids feed off their parents’ emotions. I believe in encouragement with kindness. Going at their own speed but going forward, progressing. I have found that by being patient, giving lots of encouragement, and providing them with tricks and tools goes a long way to help eliminate anxiety.
How long did it take you to write the book? Who did you work with?
This truly was a passion project and it took two years because the children’s genre is very specific about word count and storytelling. The formatting piece was very challenging.
I enlisted the help of Jordan Peterson to illustrate the book and she captured my vision completely. She is a King Philip and UMass graduate.
Where can people buy your book?
“Sink or Swim” is available on lulu.com, which published the book. I also have some available for local pickup. People can contact me through Facebook for more information