Seven nurseries in Leigh have received a special storybook aimed at teaching toddlers about water safety in a way they can understand.

The book, called Quack, Quack, Take Two Steps Back! has been launched by the Canal & River Trust, the charity that looks after 2,000 miles of waterways in England and Wales, as part of its Water Safety for Little Explorers campaign.

Parents with young children make thousands of visits to the Leeds and Liverpool canal and other inland waterways each week to enjoy the fresh air and wildlife.

However, research by the Canal & River Trust shows that many parents and carers can experience a level of anxiety about when they are with their children near water, so the Trust’s campaign aims to help parents talk to their children about staying safe by the water.

520 nurseries along the Canal & River Trust’s waterways in the North West, including seven in Leigh, 24 in Wigan and four in St Helens, have received a free printed copy of the storybook.

Online flipbooks in English and Welsh are also available on the charity’s website.

The book, made possible thanks to funds raised by players of People’s Postcard Lottery, tells the story of Squirrel and Mouse, whose acorn ball falls in the water. With the help of their friends, they get their nut back and learn all about staying safe by water.

Families with young children will be able to attend storytelling events at Wigan and Leigh Libraries over the coming weeks.

Wigan Library will be hosting story time sessions on Monday 26th Feb and Monday 4th March between 1:30-2:30.

Leigh Library will be holding a story time session on Wednesday 28th Feb between 1:30-2:30.

The charity will be donating copies of the book to the libraries for other families to enjoy.

Annette Simpson, national education manager at the Canal & River Trust, said: “For the millions of families living alongside or near them, canals and rivers are a back garden and first classroom. There are bugs to find, ducks to spot and boats to watch going through locks.

“It’s never too early to start talking to children about staying safe by water and our storybook is a fun way to introduce safety. Read it with your little ones and then practise taking two steps back with them when you visit the canal.”

The storybook would not have been possible without support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

Laura Chow, head of charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, added: “Canals are such special places for families to spend time and teaching children to be safe by water is as important as learning about fire and road safety.

“I am delighted that our players support the important work of Canal & River Trust, ensuring that families are making the most of the canals in their areas, fully enjoying what’s on offer.”

The book was written and illustrated by Matt Buckingham at Muddy Publishing.

In 2023, the Canal & River Trust launched a 90-second film, supported by children’s presenter Maddie Moate, which shows children how to Stay Away From the Edge (stay SAFE) by taking two steps back.

Two animated squirrels join in the fun and viewers can see footage of other young children learning to take two steps back from the water. Learning activities are also free to download from the Canal & River Trust’s website to help parents and childcare leaders start a conversation about water safety.

To read the book, watch the film and download the learning activities for young children, go to Tag @CanalRiverTrust in your photos and videos of your child singing the song with #TwoStepsBack.