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22 New and Noteworthy Children’s Books About Sports

Looking for the best children’s books about sports? These sports picture books and novels for elementary students are engaging for primary and upper elementary kids. Books with lesson plans and activities linked. Picture books and chapter books about sports such as basketball, hockey, the Olympics and more for your kindergarten, first, second, third, fourth or fifth grade students. Your students will delight in these classic and brand new books!

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!

Best Children’s Books About Sports:

Above the Rim by Jen Bryant

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.

Looking for the best children's books about sports? These sports picture books and novels for elementary students are engaging for primary and upper elementary kids. Books with lesson plans and activities linked. Picture books and chapter books about sports such as basketball, hockey, the Olympics and more for your kindergarten, first, second, third, fourth or fifth grade students. Your students will delight in these classic and brand new books!

Players in Pigtails by Shana Corey

Did you know that one of America’s favorite songs, “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” was written about a girl? And that in the 1940s girls all across America were crazy for our country’s favorite game?
These little known facts inspired Shana Corey to imagine a story about how one determined girl made her way to the big leagues & found a sisterhood of players in pigtails. With the same exuberant spirit that fueled the formation of the All American Girls Professional Baseball League, joyful text & jubilant pictures celebrate these brave girls’ love of the game & the league they called their own.

Lucha Libre

Carlitos’ trip to visit his uncle in Mexico City gets even more exciting when he gets to go to his first lucha libre match with his dad. For some mysterious reason, Carlitos’ uncle doesn’t join them at the match. But the event is fun from the beginning, and Carlitos even gets to pick a luchador mask before they sit right on the ringside. Up close to all the drama of the wrestling, Carlitos sees the Man in the Silver Mask, one of the most famous wrestling heroes.

Even though he’s never seen him before, the luchador’s eyes look terribly familiar. The masked wrestler even smiles at Carlitos! He is mesmerized as the Man in the Silver Mask is pitted against the terrible forces of evil―los rudos, the bad guys of lucha libre. The audience is full of energy and they boo and hiss the villains! In the end, though, the Man in the Silver Mask triumphs and gains a lifelong fan.

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.

Salt In His Shoes by Deloris Jordan

Michael 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. Another great book for social emotional learning to talk to students about perseverance and grit.

Mr. Peabody’s Apples by Madonna

Tommy Tittlebottom sees Mr Peabody taking an apple from Mr Funkadeli’s fruit market and is very surprised that he doesn’t pay. Then Tommy sees it happen again and decides that Mr. Peabody is a thief. Word spreads quickly around the town. When Mr Peabody arrives at the baseball ground, ready for the usual Saturday game, only Billy Little turns up and he soon explains what has happened. It is then up to Mr. Peabody to teach Tommy about the importance of truth and the power of words.

The Girl Who Ran by Frances Poletti

When Bobbi Gibb saw the Boston Marathon her mind was set-she had to be a part of it. But when the time came to apply for the marathon, she was refused entry. They told her girls don’t run, girls can’t run. That didn’t stop Bobbi. This picture book tells the true story of how she broke the rules in 1966 and how, one step at a time, her grit and determination changed the world. A really heroic part of women’s history.

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.

Baseball Saved Us by Ken Mochizuki

A Japanese American boy learns to play baseball when he and his family are forced to live in an internment camp during World War II, and his ability to play helps him after the war is over.

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.

Ghost by Jason Reynolds

Running. That’s all Ghost (real name Castle Cranshaw) has ever known. But Ghost has been running for the wrong reasons—it all started with running away from his father, who, when Ghost was a very little boy, chased him and his mother through their apartment, then down the street, with a loaded gun, aiming to kill.

Since then, Ghost has been the one causing problems—and running away from them—until he meets Coach, an ex-Olympic Medalist who sees something in Ghost: crazy natural talent. If Ghost can stay on track, literally and figuratively, he could be the best sprinter in the city. Can Ghost harness his raw talent for speed, or will his past finally catch up to him?

Dino-Hockey

In a hockey match unrivaled in prehistory, the Meat-Eaters take on the Veggiesaurs. Fans go wild in the stands as T. Rex and Triceratops face off, and the game is off to a rip-roaring start.

Dinosaurs face off in prehistoric sports competitions—from baseball to wrestling and every sport in between! Will the plant-eaters become the champions? Or will the meat-eaters be victorious? Fast-paced, rhyming commentary and exuberant illustrations put readers right in the action. Sure to thrill dinosaur lovers and sports fans alike!

Unstoppable

In the autumn of 1912, the football team from Carlisle Indian Industrial School took the field at the U.S. Military Academy, home to the bigger, stronger, and better-equipped West Points Cadets. Sportswriters billed the game as a sort of rematch, pitting against each other the descendants of U.S. soldiers and American Indians who fought on the battlefield only 20 years earlier. But for lightning-fast Jim Thorpe and the other Carlisle players, that day’s game was about skill, strategy, and determination. Known for unusual formations and innovative plays, the Carlisle squad was out to prove just one thing — that it was the best football team in all the land.

Hoop Genius

Taking over a rowdy gym class right before winter vacation is not something James Naismith wants to do at all.

The last two teachers of this class quit in frustration. The students―a bunch of energetic young men―are bored with all the regular games and activities. Naismith needs something new, exciting, and fast to keep the class happy―or someone’s going to get hurt. Saving this class is going to take a genius.

Discover the true story of how Naismith invented basketball in 1891 at a school in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Dragon Hoops

Gene understands stories―comic book stories, in particular. Big action. Bigger thrills. And the hero always wins.

But Gene doesn’t get sports. As a kid, his friends called him “Stick” and every basketball game he played ended in pain. He lost interest in basketball long ago, but at the high school where he now teaches, it’s all anyone can talk about. The men’s varsity team, the Dragons, is having a phenomenal season that’s been decades in the making. Each victory brings them closer to their ultimate goal: the California State Championships.

Once Gene gets to know these young all-stars, he realizes that their story is just as thrilling as anything he’s seen on a comic book page. He knows he has to follow this epic to its end. What he doesn’t know yet is that this season is not only going to change the Dragons’s lives, but his own life as well.

The Crossover

“With a bolt of lightning on my kicks . . .The court is SIZZLING. My sweat is DRIZZLING. Stop all that quivering. Cuz tonight I’m delivering,” announces dreadlocked, 12-year old Josh Bell. He and his twin brother Jordan are awesome on the court.

But Josh has more than basketball in his blood. He’s got mad beats, too, that tell his family’s story in verse, in this fast and furious middle grade novel of family and brotherhood from Kwame Alexander. Josh and Jordan must come to grips with growing up on and off the court to realize breaking the rules comes at a terrible price, as their story’s heart-stopping climax proves a game-changer for the entire family.

Rebound

Before Josh and Jordan Bell were streaking up and down the court, their father was learning his own moves. Chuck Bell takes center stage as readers get a glimpse of his childhood and how he became the jazz music worshiping, basketball star his sons look up to.

A novel in verse with all the impact and rhythm readers have come to expect from Kwame Alexander, Rebound goes back in time to visit the childhood of Chuck “Da Man” Bell during one pivotal summer when young Charlie is sent to stay with his grandparents where he discovers basketball and learns more about his family’s past.

Booked

Twelve-year-old Nick learns the power of words as he wrestles with problems at home, stands up to a bully, and tries to impress the girl of his dreams. Helping him along are his best friend and sometimes teammate Coby, and The Mac, a rapping librarian who gives Nick inspiring books to read.  

This electric and heartfelt novel-in-verse bends and breaks as it captures all the thrills and setbacks, action and emotion of a World Cup match.

A Sporting Chance

Dedicating his life to helping patients labeled “incurables,” Ludwig Guttmann fought for the rights of paraplegics to live a full life. The young doctor believed—and eventually proved—that physical movement is key to healing, a discovery that led him to create the first Paralympic Games. 

Told with moving text and lively illustrations, and featuring the life stories of athletes from the Paralympic Games Ludwig helped create, this story of the man who saved lives through sports will inspire readers of all backgrounds.

The Field

A soccer story—for boy and girls alike!

Vini! Come! The field calls!” cries a girl as she and her younger brother rouse their community—family, friends, and the local fruit vendor—for a pickup soccer (futbol) game. Boys and girls, young and old, players and spectators come running—bearing balls, shoes, goals, and a love of the sport.
 
“Friends versus friends” teams are formed, the field is cleared of cows, and the game begins! But will a tropical rainstorm threaten their plans?
 

Wilma Unlimited

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.

Just Like Jesse Owens

As a boy, Andrew Young learned a vital lesson from his parents when a local chapter of the Nazi party instigated racial unrest in their hometown of New Orleans in the 1930s. While Hitler’s teachings promoted White supremacy, Andrew’s father, told him that when dealing with the sickness of racism, “Don’t get mad, get smart.” To drive home this idea, Andrew Young Senior took his family to the local movie house to see a newsreel of track star Jesse Owens racing toward Olympic gold, showing the world that the best way to promote equality is to focus on the finish line.

The teaching of his parents, and Jesse Owens’ example, would be the guiding principles that shaped Andrew’s beliefs in nonviolence and built his foundation as a civil rights leader and advisor to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The story is vividly recalled by Paula Young Shelton, Andrew’s daughter.

Best Children’s Books About Sports

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

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!

Looking for the best children's books about sports? These sports picture books and novels for elementary students are engaging for primary and upper elementary kids. Books with lesson plans and activities linked. Picture books and chapter books about sports such as basketball, hockey, the Olympics and more for your kindergarten, first, second, third, fourth or fifth grade students. Your students will delight in these classic and brand new books!
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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!

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