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Athletes: Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best children's books about athletes?

Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to athletes. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about athletes.

Our list includes picture books and chapter books. Picture books are generally great options for toddlers and for preschool and kindergarten age children. Picture books are especially enjoyable for adults to read aloud with young kids. The chapter books on our list are generally best for elementary through early middle school age tween kids. You can filter to sort by the best book type for your kid.

When it comes to children’s stories about athletes, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like Kevin, the Star Striker to popular sellers like Playbook: 52 Rules to Aim, Shoot, and Score in This Game Called Life.

We hope this list of kids books about athletes can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book!

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A Picture Book of Jesse Owens
Written by David A. Adler & illustrated by Robert Casilla
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A comprehensive look at the life of the man who has often been called the World’s Fastest Human. Jesse Owens was born on a farm to a large family with many siblings. His grandparents had been slaves, and his sharecropper parents were poor. But against all odds, Jesse went on to become one of the greatest athletes in history. He learned to run with such grace that people said he was a “floating wonder.” After setting multiple world records as a college athlete, Jesse competed in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Adolf Hitler intended for the games to display Aryan superiority, but Jesse disrupted that plan. He became the first American track-and-field athlete to receive four gold medals, and established his legacy as a hero in the face of prejudice. This child friendly entry in David A. Adler’s well-known series contains an accessible mix of biography, facts, and history supported with lifelike illustrations. Back matter includes an author’s note and a timeline.

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By My Brother's Side
Written by Tiki Barber, Ronde Barber, and Robert Burleigh & illustrated by Barry Root
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-10

Introduces twin brothers Tiki and Ronde Barber, who worked hard to overcome obstacles and became National Football League stars, one as runningback for the New York Giants, the other as cornerback for the Tampa Bay Bucs.

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Epic Athletes: Serena Williams
Written by Dan Wetzel & illustrated by Sloane Leong
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

An inspiring middle-grade biography of the most celebrated women’s tennis player ever, Serena Williams, from acclaimed sports journalist Dan Wetzel! Serena Williams is no stranger to overcoming obstacles. From growing up in a tough neighborhood to combatting racism to weathering severe health issues, there is no challenge she can’t defeat, no hurdle that will get in the way of her unwavering desire to be the best tennis player in the world. As a little girl, Serena spent years training at her local court with her father and older sister, Venus, dreaming of one day winning Grand Slam titles and earning the number one ranking in the world. In this exciting biography, young readers will discover what it takes to become a champion. Bestselling author Dan Wetzel brings to life the story of an athlete and trailblazer who broke records and racial barriers. Publishing right between Wimbledon and the US Open, and featuring action-packed comic-style interior art, this uplifting biography of the most celebrated women’s tennis player of all time is sure to be a hit with young sports fans across the country.

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Teammates
Written by Peter Golenbock & illustrated by Paul Bacon
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

This is the moving story of how Jackie Robinson became the first black player on a Major League baseball team when he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1940s, and how on a fateful day in Cincinnati, Pee Wee Reese took a stand and declared Jackie his teammate. Illustrated with a blend of historic photographs and eloquent watercolors by Paul Bacon.

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Olympig!
Written & illustrated by Victoria Jamieson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Pursued by Mr. Hamstring, a reporter who is sure he will fail, Boomer becomes the first pig ever to compete in the Animal Olympics and demonstrates that attitude can be more important than winning.

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  • I Am Jackie Robinson - A Black History Month-timed entry in the best-selling series follows the heroic story of baseball star Jackie Robinson, describing, in text and comic thought bubbles, his childhood, early ambitions and barrier-breaking achievements. By the best-selling author of Heroes for My Son.

  • Who Was Jesse Owens? - Describes the life of the sharecroppers’ son who became an Olympic legend and challenged Hitler’s dream of Aryan superiority.

  • Testing the Ice: A True Story about Jackie Robinson - Sharon Robinson, the daughter of baseball legend Jackie Robinson, has crafted a hearwarming, true story about growing up with her father. <p/>When Jackie Robinson retires from baseball and moves his family to Connecticut, the beautiful lake on their property is the center of everyone’s fun. The neighborhood children join the Robinson kids for swimming and boating. But oddly, Jackie never goes near the water. <br> In a dramatic episode that first winter, the children beg to go ice skating on the lake. Jackie says they can go–but only after he tests the ice to make sure it’s safe. The children prod and push to get Jackie outside, until hesitantly, he finally goes. Like a blind man with a stick, (contd.)

  • Playbook: 52 Rules to Aim, Shoot, and Score in This Game Called Life - New York Times bestseller ∙ Indie Next Pick You gotta know the rules to play the game. Ball is life. Take it to the hoop. Soar. What can we imagine for our lives? What if we were the star players, moving and grooving through the game of life? What if we had our own rules of the game to help us get what we want, what we aspire to, what will enrich our lives?

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A Big Day for Baseball
Written by Mary Pope Osborne & illustrated by A.G. Ford
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

PLAY BALL! Jack and Annie aren’t great baseball players . . . yet! Then Morgan the librarian gives them magical baseball caps that will make them experts. They just need to wear the caps to a special ballgame in Brooklyn, New York. The magic tree house whisks them back to 1947!

When they arrive, Jack and Annie find out that they will be batboys in the game—not ballplayers. What exactly does Morgan want them to learn? And what’s so special about this game? They only have nine innings to find out!

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Jackie's Gift
Written by Sharon Robinson & illustrated by E. B. Lewis
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Young Steve Satlow is thrilled when his hero Jackie Robinson moves onto his block. After the famed second baseman invites Steve to a Dodgers game, the two become friends. So when Jackie hears that the Satlows don’t have a Christmas tree, he decides to give them one, not realizing the Satlows are Jewish. But Jackie’s gift helps these two different families discover how much they have in common.

Written by the daughter of baseball legend Jackie Robinson and illustrated by a Caldecott Honor winner, Jackie’s Gift is a holiday tale-based on a true story-about friendship and breaking barriers.

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Waiting for Pumpsie
Written by Barry Wittenstein & illustrated by London Ladd
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

In 1959 the Boston Red Sox was the last team in the Major Leagues to integrate. But when they call Elijah “Pumpsie” Green up from the minors, Bernard is overjoyed to see a black player on his beloved home team. And, when Pumpsie’s first home game is scheduled, Bernard and his family head to Fenway Park. Bernard is proud of Pumpsie and hopeful that this historic event is the start of great change in America.

This fictionalized account captures the true story of baseball player Pumpsie Green’s rise to the major leagues. The story is a snapshot of the Civil Rights Movement and a great discussion starter about the state of race relations in the United States today.

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42 Is Not Just a Number The Odyssey of Jackie Robinson, American Hero
Written & illustrated by Doreen Rappaport
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Jackie Robinson’s athletic talents would have easily landed another man a career in pro sports, but such opportunities were closed to athletes like Jackie for one reason: his skin was the wrong color. Jackie settled for playing baseball in the Negro Leagues until 1946, when the manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers recruited him for a position that would cause him to face cruel and sometimes violent hatred and discrimination: Jackie Robinson was going to break the color barrier in Major League Baseball. In this compelling biography, award-winning author Doreen Rappaport chronicles the extraordinary life of Jackie Robinson and how his achievements won over—and changed—a segregated nation.

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Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America
Written by Andrea Pinkney & illustrated by Brian Pinkney
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

HAND IN HAND presents the stories of ten men from different eras in American history, organized chronologically to provide a scope from slavery to the modern day. The stories are accessible, fully-drawn narratives offering the subjects’ childhood influences, the time and place in which they lived, their accomplishments and motivations, and the legacies they left for future generations as links in the “freedom chain.” This book will be the definitive family volume on the subject, punctuated with dynamic full color portraits and spot illustrations by two-time Caldecott Honor winner and multiple Coretta Scott King Book Award recipient Brian Pinkney. Backmatter includes a civil rights timeline, sources, and further reading.

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  • Kevin, the Star Striker - When the last of snow has finally melted, soccer season starts! Kevin the Star Striker and The Wild Soccer Bunch rush to their field. They have found that Mickey the bulldozer and his gang, The Unbeatables, have taken over. Kevin and his friends challenge the Unbeatables to the biggest game of their lives. Can the Wild Bunch defeat the Unbeatables, or lose their field of dreams forever? Can they do what no team has done before?

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