Thursday, August 9, 2012

books for sports fans

"I saw the board with number 31 on it and thought my brother had got a penalty. I thought, 'What an idiot Alistair, you've got a penalty.' Then I looked at my arm and realized I was number 31."

- British men's triathlon bronze medalist 
(2012 Olympics) Jonathan Brownlee 
describes his reaction to a 15-second penalty 
for getting on his bike too early. 
His brother Alistair took the gold.

If you’re like me, you’ve spent more hours in front of the tv the last few weeks than you’d care to admit in order to watch the triumphs and heartbreaks of the Olympics. Last Sunday I got myself out for a bike ride after getting up really early to watch the amazing Olympic women’s marathon. My bike ride of around 26 miles was completed in about the same amount of time the women finished running the marathon (26.2 miles). They are incredibly inspiring. It’s good that the games are almost over, as my tear ducts need a break.

All of these unbelievable athletes have me thinking about books for children about sports and athletes. Many children are excited by books about sports and athletics, and there are a lot of authors writing for these children. Here are a few to think about adding to your classroom libraries.

There are a couple pictures books specifically about the Olympics. These include G is for Gold: An Olympics Alphabet by Brad Herzog and Doug Bowles and Olympig! by Victoria Jamieson. Did you know Michael Phelps is a published author? He wrote How to Train with a T. Rex and Win 8 Gold Medals.

Other great picture books about sports include Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World’s Fastest Woman by Kathleen Krull and David Diaz, We are the Ship: The Story of the Negro Baseball League by Kadir Nelson, Z is for Zamboni: A Hockey Alphabet by Matt Napier and Melanie Rose, and Baseball Saved Us by Ken Mochizuki.

Several other books that are worth checking out include Tangerine by Edward Bloor, which has become pretty common reading in middle schools. Racing in the Rain: My Life as a Dog by Garth Stein is a little less conventional of a sports book, being narrated by a dog, but it is just delightful. Guys Read: The Sports Pages, edited by Jon Scieszka, is a great collection of stories by tons of favorite authors.

There are a number of authors who write lots of books about sports. These authors include Chris Crutcher, Matt Christopher, Fred Bowen, Dan Gutman, Mike Lupica, Tim Green, John Feinstein, Robert Lipsyte, Carl Deuker, John Coy, Todd Strasser, Will Weaver, Geoff Herbach, Clair Bee, Gary Soto, and Walter Dean Myers. Seem of these authors write almost exclusively about sports, and some write a variety of books.

As you can see, the above list includes male authors, and most of their books are written with male protagonists. There are, however, a growing number of books written with female sports-playing protagonists.

Some nonfiction books about girls and sports include Let Me Play: The Story of Title IX by Karen Blumenthal and Equal Play: Title IX and Social Change by Nancy Hogshead-Maker and Andrew Zimbalist, which are two books written for children about the historic legislation requiring equal opportunities in sports for girls. Though both  boys and girls will find these books interesting, girls may find these books particularly empowering.

There are lots of biographies and autobiographies of female athletes. Some of note include Throw Like a Girl: How to Dream Big and Believe in Yourself the story of Jennie Finch, a collegiate national softball player of the year, professional pitcher, and two-time Olympian. Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board, telling the well-publicized story of surfer Bethany Hamilton, who lost an arm and almost died in a shark attack. Venus & Serena Williams, Dominique Moceanu, Tara Lipinski, and Mia Hamm, among others, have written or are the subjects of their athletic (and personal) accomplishments.

Some fiction novels about female athletes to check out include:
·      Can I Play? by J. Dillard (high school volleyball player)
·      Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally (female football captain & quarterback)
·      The Perfect Distance by Kim Ablon Whitney (equestrian)
·      The Girl Who Threw Butterflies by Mick Cochrane (baseball)
·      Boost by Kathy Mackel (basketball)
·      Open Court by Carol Clippinger (tennis)
·      The Pretty Tough series by various authors
·      The Dairy Queen trilogy by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
·      Whip It and Derby Girl by Shauna Cross (roller derby)

Check these out and keep these titles on hand when kiddos are looking for a new book to take on.

Happy reading!


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