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.
by Marta Barroso; illustrated by Mónica Carretero; translated by Jon Brokenbrow (Cuento de Luz, 2017)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
by Chelsea Clinton; illustrated by Alexandra Boiger (Philomel Books, 2020)
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.
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:
- Scholastic Year in Sports 2021 by James Buckley Jr.
- Football Baby by Diane Adams and Charlene Chua
- Family Huddle by Peyton, Eli, and Archie Manning; illustrated by Jim Madsen
- Animal Olympics by Carron Brown; illustrated by Katy Tanis
- Flying High by Michelle Meadows; illustrated by Ebony Glenn
- Althea Gibson by Megan Reid; illustrated by Laura Freeman
- Olympig! by Victoria Jamieson
- Miss Mary Reporting by Sue Macy; illustrated by C.F. Payne
- She’s Got This by Laurie Hernandez; illustrated by Nina Mata
- A Girl Called Genghis Khan by Michelle Lord; illustrated by Shehzil Malik
- Max Explains Everything: Soccer Expert by Stacy McAnulty; illustrated by Deborah Hocking
- John Elway: Comeback Kid by John Elway with Greg Brown; illustrated by Doug Keith
- Soccerverse by Elizabeth Steinglass; illustrated by Edson Ikê
- Randy Riley’s Really Big Hit by Chris Van Dusen
- Skater Baby by Jack Noel
- What Is the Super Bowl? by Dina Anastasio; illustrated by David Groff
- For The Love of Basketball from A to Z by Frederick C. Klein; illustrated by Mark W. Anderson
- Women in Sports by Rachel Ignotofsky
- Game Changers by Lesa Cline-Ransome; illustrated by James E. Ransome
- Salt in his Shoes by Deloris Jordan and Roslyn M. Jordan; illustrated by Kadir Nelson
- The Lucky, Lucky Leaf by David Hoskins; illustrated by Chantal Bourgonje
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.