Picture Book Brain

LOG IN TO YOUR ACCOUNT 
Sign up for the MEMBERSHIP 
cropped Header
start here icon
Start here
BLOG IDEAS
BLOG
about me icon
ABOUT
Games icon
Games
BOOKLIST
Book Lists
shop TPT store
SHOP
CONTACT PICTURE BOOK BRAIN
CONTACT
membership button to click to join
JOIN

Best Children’s Books About Black Athletes

Looking for the best children’s books about Black Athletes? Look no further! Whether you want to read some of these for February’s Black History Month or just for any occasion, these childrens books about Black people in sports are perfect! Athletes from a variety of sports like basketball, tennis and horse racing are sure to interest your kids and add more diverse literature to your elementary classes!

If you’re looking for any other ideas for Black History Month for kids, I have a great resource page where you can access all of my ideas for your Black History Month celebration.

If you’re a member of the Picture Book Brain Trust Community, you already have access to EVERY lesson plan and activity for these books! Just click on the Lesson Plans button in the menu!

Above the Rim by Jen Bryant

The story of Elgin Baylor, basketball icon and civil rights advocate, from an all-star team. Hall-of-famer Elgin Baylor was one of basketball’s all-time-greatest players—an innovative athlete, team player, and quiet force for change. One of the first professional African-American players, he inspired others on and off the court. But when traveling for away games, many hotels and restaurants turned Elgin away because he was black. One night, Elgin had enough and staged a one-man protest that captured the attention of the press, the public, and the NBA.

Get the lesson plan and activities for Above the Rim HERE

Check out these engaging picture books for February's Black History Month. Fun nonfiction biography children's books about Black athletes. Award-winning books about famous African Americans in sports throughout history. Your elementary students will love these lesson plans and activities for Kindergarten, first, second, third, fourth and fifth grade. Great ideas for your classroom!
PIN ME

Game Changers by Lesa Cline-Ransome

Venus and Serena Williams. Two peas in a pod. Best friends. Sisters.

Six days a week they awoke before the sun came up to practice their serves and returns, to learn to run faster and hit harder. They were unstoppable. At age fourteen, Venus played her first professional match. Three years later, it was Serena’s turn. It wasn’t easy. Some tennis fans cheered for these two fresh faces, while those who were unhappy to see two black girls competing in a nearly all-white sport booed and taunted them. But they didn’t let it stop them. This is also one of my favorite books about women in sports!

Get the lesson plan and activities for Game Changers HERE

Salt In His Shoes by Deloris Jordan

The mere mention of the name conjures up visions of basketball played at its absolute best. But as a child, Michael almost gave up on his hoop dreams, all because he feared he’d never grow tall enough to play the game that would one day make him famous. That’s when his mother and father stepped in and shared the invaluable lesson of what really goes into the making of a champion — patience, determination, and hard work.

Get the lesson plan and activities for Salt In His Shoes HERE

The Last Black King of the Kentucky Derby by Crystal Hubbard

Born into an African American sharecropping family in 1880s Kentucky, Jimmy Winkfield grew up loving horses. The large, powerful animals inspired little Jimmy to think big. Looking beyond his family s farm, he longed for a life riding on action-packed racetracks around the world. Like his hero, the great Isaac Murphy, Jimmy Wink Winkfield would stop at nothing to make it as a jockey. Though his path to success was wrought with obstacles both on the track and off, Wink faced each challenge with passion and a steadfast spirit. The Last Black King of the Kentucky Derby brings to life a vivacious hero from a little-known chapter of American sports history.

Get the lesson plan and activities for The Last Black King of the Kentucky Derby HERE

Emmanuel’s Dream by Laurie Ann Thompson

Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah’s inspiring true story—which was turned into a film, Emmanuel’s Gift, narrated by Oprah Winfrey—is nothing short of remarkable.

Born in Ghana, West Africa, with one deformed leg, he was dismissed by most people—but not by his mother, who taught him to reach for his dreams. As a boy, Emmanuel hopped to school more than two miles each way, learned to play soccer, left home at age thirteen to provide for his family, and, eventually, became a cyclist. He rode an astonishing four hundred miles across Ghana in 2001, spreading his powerful message: disability is not inability. Today, Emmanuel continues to work on behalf of the disabled.

Get the lesson plan and activities for Emmanuel’s Dream HERE

The Undefeated Kwame Alexander

Originally performed for ESPN’s The Undefeated, this poem is a love letter to black life in the United States. It highlights the unspeakable trauma of slavery, the faith and fire of the civil rights movement, and the grit, passion, and perseverance of some of the world’s greatest heroes. The text is also peppered with references to the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, and others, offering deeper insights into the accomplishments of the past, while bringing stark attention to the endurance and spirit of those surviving and thriving in the present. Robust back matter at the end provides valuable historical context and additional detail for those wishing to learn more.

Get the lesson plan and activities for The Undefeated HERE

Brave Ballerina by Michelle Meadows

Janet Collins wanted to be a ballerina in the 1930s and 40s, a time when racial segregation was widespread in the United States. Janet pursued dance with a passion, despite being rejected from discriminatory dance schools. When she was accepted into the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo as a teenager on the condition that she paint her skin white for performances, Janet refused. She continued to go after her dreams, never compromising her values along the way. It tells her story from her early childhood lessons to the height of her success as the first African American prima ballerina in the Metropolitan Opera.

Get the lesson plan and activities for Brave Ballerina HERE

Wilma Unlimited by Kathleen Krull

This award-winning true story of Black Olympic runner Wilma Rudolph, who overcame childhood polio and eventually went on to win three gold medals, is illustrated by Caldecott medal–winning artist David Diaz.

Before Wilma Rudolph was five years old, polio had paralyzed her left leg. Everyone said she would never walk again. But Wilma refused to believe it. Not only would she walk again, she vowed, she’d run. And she did run—all the way to the Olympics, where she became the first American woman to earn three gold medals in a single Olympiad. This dramatic and inspiring true story is illustrated in bold watercolor and acrylic paintings.

Best Children’s Books about Black Athletes

What are some of your favorite children’s books about Black athletes? Are there any must read children’s books about Black athletes that I left out? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll add them!

Remember: If you need any other ideas for Black History Month for kids, I have a page of resources with all of my ideas for your Black History Month celebration.

Get a free lesson and activities here:

Check out these engaging picture books for February's Black History Month. Fun nonfiction biography children's books about Black athletes. Award-winning books about famous African Americans in sports throughout history. Your elementary students will love these lesson plans and activities for Kindergarten, first, second, third, fourth and fifth grade. Great ideas for your classroom!
PIN ME!

Share with a Colleague:

Other Posts You Might Like:

Picture Book Brain Logo

Hey there! I’m Josh from Picture Book Brain here to share only the best literature for you to use with your students. If you are looking for a specific book, use the search bar below to check my archives. Glad you’re here, and glad to help you!

find what you need

become a member

find books you need

Get free training

Have a question?

membership info