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7 Sports Books for Budding Athletes

Keep your kids’ fervor for sports going with these books.

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Sports fans are chomping at the bit to play after so many canceled, delayed, and shortened seasons last year; many others are pumped for competition after watching the Summer Olympic Games. Keep your kids’ fervor for sports going with these books.

Rafa Nadal

by Marta Barroso; illustrated by Mónica Carretero; translated by Jon Brokenbrow (Cuento de Luz, 2017)

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Available in English and Spanish, this book tells the true story of professional Spanish tennis player, Rafael “Rafa” Nadal, who shares the message that what really matters in sports is being happy along the way, and not waiting until you reach the finish line. Proceeds benefit the What Really Matters Foundation, which promotes universal human values to young people through conferences around the world.

I Really Want to Win

by Simon Philip; illustrated by Lucia Gaggiotti (Scholastic, 2019)

A little girl is confident she’ll win all the events at her school’s sports day, but it doesn’t turn out like she planned. She gets frustrated and tries other activities, all with the goal of winning. When she finally does something she loves—cake decorating—without the goal of being the winner, that’s when she really excels.

Fauja Singh Keeps Going

by Simran Jeet Singh; illustrated by Baljinder Kaur (Kokila, 2020)

Fauja Singh was born in Punjab, British India in 1911 with weak legs that didn’t work like the other kids’ legs. But he was determined. At the age of 81, after a lifetime of making his body, mind, and heart stronger, Fauja ran his first marathon. He broke records all around the world and became the first person over 100 years old to complete a marathon.

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Football With Dad

by Frank J. Berrios; illustrated by Brian Biggs (Little Golden Book, 2015)

From this classic children’s book series comes a modern story about a father and son’s love of football. Kids will be introduced to basic football terms and be inspired to bond with Dad by watching the big game on TV, trying their own football moves, or starting a neighborhood pick-up game.

Sky’s The Limit

by Sky Brown (Penguin Workshop, 2020)

Young athletes will be inspired by words of wisdom from British-Japanese professional skateboarder Sky Brown. At age 13, she’s the youngest British Summer Olympian competing in the Tokyo Summer Olympic Games. Inspirational quotes accompany photos of the young competitor.

She Persisted in Sports

by Chelsea Clinton; illustrated by Alexandra Boiger (Philomel Books, 2020)

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Former first daughter Chelsea Clinton introduces readers to American women Olympians and the obstacles they faced while trying to reach their goals. Learn about 16 athletes from different sports, including gymnast Simone Biles, fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, and golfer Margaret Ives Abbott.

The Field

by Baptiste Paul; illustrated by Jacqueline Alcántara (NorthSouth Books, 2018)

Celebrate the joys of soccer through the simplicity of an outdoor game played on a Caribbean island. Through simple text, the author interspersed Creole words spoken in his birthplace of St. Lucia, showing the sport’s international appeal.


Librarians and book experts also recommend:


Rafa Nadal: Cuento de Luz. I Really Want to Win: Scholastic. Fauja Singh Keeps Going, Football With Dad, Sky’s The Limit, She Persisted in Sports: Penguin Random House. The Field: Simon & Schuster. Background: Anand Purohit/Getty Images.

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