Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to basketball. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about basketball.
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 basketball, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like Dino-Basketball to popular sellers like The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian to some of our favorite hidden gems like The Crossover.
We hope this list of kids books about basketball can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book!
New York Times bestseller ∙ Newbery Medal Winner ∙ Coretta Scott King Honor Award ∙ 2015 YALSA 2015 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults ∙ 2015 YALSA Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers ∙ Publishers Weekly Best Book ∙ School Library Journal Best Book ∙ Kirkus Best Book
“A beautifully measured novel of life and line.”—The New York Times Book Review
“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 dread-locked, 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.
Olympic dreams come true in this inspiring picture book from Michael Jordan’s mother, author of the New York Times bestselling Salt in His Shoes. Long before he became a professional All-Star basketball player, Michael Jordan had dreams of winning an Olympic gold medal—and with dedication and perseverance, that’s exactly what he did. This heartwarming picture book, written by Michael’s mother and illustrated by Barry Root, gives a rare glimpse into a sports hero’s childhood and emphasizes the role that good values play in success. An ideal companion to the New York Times bestselling Salt in His Shoes and releasing in time for the 2012 Olympics, Dream Big is an inspiration to all.
In book four of the Major Eights series, Becca shoots, but will she score a meet and greet with her favorite basketball player? When Becca finds out about her school’s free throw competition, she is ready to put her basketball skills to the test! And if she wins, she’ll get to meet her favorite basketball player! But after a series of bad practices, her nerves start to get the best of her. Can the Major Eights help Becca regain her confidence and meet her hero?
In the sixth book in the New York Times bestselling middle grade series inspired by the life of iconic New York Yankee Derek Jeter, young Derek bites off more than he can chew when he decides to enter the school talent show and try out for the basketball team.
Between promising Vijay that he’ll compete in the school talent show and promising Dave that he’ll try out for the basketball team, Derek Jeter has a lot he’s trying to juggle. A commitment is a commitment, and Derek is determined to work hard and try his best, but he worries he might be in over his head and fears he’s going to let his friends or himself down. How can Derek do it all?
Inspired by Derek Jeter’s childhood, Fast Break is the sixth book in Jeter Publishing’s New York Times bestselling middle grade baseball series that focuses on key life lessons from Derek Jeter’s Turn 2 Foundation.
Young Michael Jordan, who is smaller than the other players, learns that determination and hard work are more important than size when playing the game of basketball.
Above the Rim: How Elgin Baylor Changed Basketball -
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.
Above the Rim is a poetic, exquisitely illustrated telling of the life of an underrecognized athlete and a celebration of standing up for what is right.
Dragon Hoops - In his latest graphic novel, Dragon Hoops, New York Times bestselling author Gene Luen Yang turns the spotlight on his life, his family, and the high school where he teaches. 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.
Hooray! My Butt Left the Bench! - In this winning addition to the easy-to-read bestselling series, Hank has to hustle to prove he can be his basketball team’s secret weapon! For two years running, Hank’s school has beaten their arch rivals at the annual second grade basketball game. When his friends try out, Hank is determined to play, too. There’s just one problem: Hank is terrible at basketball. Luckily Dr. Dunk (AKA Hank’s dad) and Hank’s friends have his back. With a little help, Hank just might be what the team needs to win their first three-peat in PS 87 history! This bestselling series written by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver is perfect for the transitional reader. With a unique, easy-to-read font, endless humor, and characters every kid would want to be friends with, any story with Hank is a slam dunk! From the Trade Paperback edition.
B Is for Baller - Featuring dozens of iconic superstars like Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, LeBron James, Wilt Chamberlain, Kobe Bryant, and Steph Curry, B is for Baller is the ultimate alphabet book for young hoops fans–whether they’re taking their first shot at the ABCs or already perfecting their threes! James Littlejohn’s words leap off the page and bring legends to life, while Matthew Shipley’s colorful, stylish illustrations are sure to delight fans young and old. What started as a successful Kickstarter project from two passionate NBA fans is now the perfect read for little ballers everywhere!
From the critically acclaimed author of Amina’s Voice comes the third book in an exciting chapter book series about a scrawny fourth-grader with big dreams of basketball stardom. Zayd has a plan. He’s ready to take the reins as team captain of the Gold Team. But when an injury leaves him on the sidelines, his plans get derailed. Can Zayd learn what it means to be a leader if he’s not the one calling the shots?
“From A to Z basketball’s history, famous players, and the game’s basics such as dribble, pass, and zone are explained using simple rhymes for each letter topic and expository text filled with details”–Provided by publisher.
In his first memoir written especially for young readers, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar will focus on his relationships with several important coaches in his life - including his father, his high-school coach and Coach Wooden - as he tells the story of his life and career. Like many kids in elementary school, Kareem (then Lew Alcindor) struggled with fitting in, pleasing a strict father, and severe shyness that made him socially awkward. Unlike most kids, he also had to grapple with a sudden growth spurt that shot him up taller than pretty much everyone around him, including students, teachers, and even his own father. His increasing fame as a basketball player throughout high school brought new challenges as this shy boy was shoved into the national spotlight. At the same time, social unrest in the country, particularly involving the growing civil rights movement, tugged at his conscience as he tried to find his place in it. After all, he was just a kid. What could he do? Recruited to UCLA, his fame as an unstoppable center made him a college superstar. But as his fame rose, so did the social turmoil in the country: Vietnam War protests, Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., large-scale riots, the Women’s Movement. He could have hidden from all the turmoil as a sports celebrity, but he chose to join in the social evolution. The result was converting to Islam and changing his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The public backlash was blistering, but he didn’t waver.
Lucy Tries Basketball - Lucy and friends are out on the playground when they spot Ava playing basketball with her cousin Jermaine, a professional player. Jermaine gives the kids lessons on the fundamentals of the game and how to play three-on-three. When the kids finish, Jermaine invites them to watch him play in a pro game. Lucy, Ava and friends cheer on the players, keeping an eye out on the real court for the skills they learned at the playground. Lucy Tries Basketball is the fifth title in the Lucy Tries Sports series, following books about hockey, soccer, short track and luge. The series encourages children to get active and participate in sports and recreation. To find out what Lucy will try next, visit lucytriessports.com.
Dino-Basketball - Plant-eating dinosaurs face meat-eating dinosaurs in a basketball game at Mastadon Square Garden.
Cinder-Elly - A lively new twist on an old familiar fairy tale Readers young and old will enjoy this fresh look at the age-old tale in which an urban-dwelling Cinder-Elly used the help of a trash can, a copy machine, and even a glass sneaker to find her Prince Charming. With a jazzily rhthmic, rhyming text and quirky, funny illustrations, this version of the familiar favorite is irresistible.
Most Valuable Players - With their fifth grade graduation only weeks away, Rip, Red, and the rest of their classmates must decide if boycotting a test is worth forfeiting their graduation gala and the opportunity to play with Hoops Machine, a Harlem Globetrotters-like team.
Combining fast-paced action for young readers and fresh, humorous takes on school issues for teachers, this installment in the Rip and Red series is an illustrated chapter book that both audiences will love.
Just when they think they’ve got the hang of things, Rip and Red find that fifth grade continues to challenge them in head-spinning ways. Tiki, a new girl whose Egyptian dad is an animal-rights activist, has just joined their class. She’s charismatic, funny—and she’s got game! Rip has his world turned upside down as Tiki proves to be tough competition on the Clifton United basketball team and leads a rebellion against the lousy new food service in the school cafeteria. Red—a kid on the autism spectrum—is struggling with the upheavals as well. But as these two funky and funny best friends discover, sometimes radical change is the right move, on the court and off.
Phil Bildner and Tim Probert return to the Rip and Red series that started with A Whole New Ballgame in a sequel that is just as fun and entertaining as the first book, Rookie of the Year.
Acclaimed journalist and bestselling author Dan Wetzel tells the electric story of NBA superstar Steph Curry, beginning a new series of sports biographies for young readers! When you think of Stephen Curry, one word comes to mind: greatness. From shooting three-pointers with laser precision to his clutch ability to hit buzzer-beaters time and again, he has established himself as one of the best players in the pro basketball. But greatness was never a guarantee for Steph. The son of a talented NBA player, he dreamed of one day playing professionally just like his dad. Yet Steph, who was always smaller and weaker than the competition, was told over and over that he would never be talented enough to be a college star or NBA player–let alone the MVP of the entire league. Through tenacity and hard work, he proved them all wrong and went on to dismantle the record books. With the high energy of a TV commentator, and featuring dynamic comic-style illustrations, this engaging biography tells the story of an NBA All-Star and the path he took to achieve his dreams.
Even though he suffers from social anxiety, twelve-year-old Addison agrees to help his best friend achieve social media fame while at a nationally-televised NBA game.
New York Times bestseller ∙ Indie Next PickYou 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?
Rip and Red are best friends whose fifth-grade year is nothing like what they expected. They have a crazy new tattooed teacher named Mr. Acevedo, who doesn’t believe in tests or homework and who likes off-the-wall projects, the more “off” the better. They also find themselves with a new basketball coach: Mr. Acevedo! Easy-going Rip is knocked completely out of his comfort zone. And for Red, who has autism and really needs things to be exactly a certain way, the changes are even more of a struggle. But together these two make a great duo who know how to help each other—and find ways to make a difference—in the classroom and on the court.
With its energetic and authentic story and artwork, this is a fresh, fun book about school, sports, and friendship.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian - The 10th anniversary edition of Sherman Alexie’s National Book Award-winning and #1 New York Times bestselling novel–bonus content included! Sherman Alexie, in his first book for young adults, tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the reservation to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Heartbreaking, funny, beautifully written, semi-autobiographical, and coupled with poignant drawings that reflect the character’s art, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian will continue to make a lasting impression for many years to come. Bonus content to include an introduction from National Book Award winner and New York Times bestselling author Jacqueline Woodson, a new author’s note, an excerpt of a sequel from the character Rowdy’s point of view, and more!
Tournament of Champions - The third book in a fun, illustrated middle-grade series about friendship, school, and basketball. It’s spring of their fifth-grade year and Rip and Red have a thrilling opportunity to participate in a weekend basketball tournament with a few other members of Clifton United. While the tournament is only a short bus ride away, both boys will travel outside their comfort zones. Ultra-competitive Rip must play on a team with kids he doesn’t like. But he faces an even bigger hurdle when someone from his past returns, someone he hasn’t seen in years, someone who just may derail the entire weekend. As for Red, because of his autism spectrum disorder, he’s never traveled anywhere without his mother. Will he muster the courage to take the trip? Fortunately for both boys, also on the team is an unlikely addition, a source of inspiration who helps everyone discover the true meaning of the word champion. Tournament of Champions by Phil Bildner, with illustrations by Tim Probert, is a fun, fast-paced, and diverse middle grade novel perfect for reluctant readers and sports fans. Read all of the Rip and Red series: A Whole New Ballgame Rookie of the Year Tournament of Champions Most Valuable Players Praise for Rookie of the Year: “This fast, fun read featuring characters who love books as much as basketball will appeal to sports fans and nonathletes alike.” —School Library Journal “A diverse cast of characters highlights this good-natured, high-spirited slice of life.” —Kirkus Reviews Praise for A Whole New Ballgame: “The book depicts the evolution of a group of fifth graders who learn a lot, grow a lot, and help one another . . . The charming and diverse characters [are] pure fun with a lot of heart.” —School Library Journal “If the students are inspiring, so is [their teacher] Mr. Acevedo, who risks his job to do such radical things as reading aloud and encouraging free reading. (He’s supposed to be preparing the kids to take tests!) Probert’s cartoonish illustrations lend energy and personality to the likable cast of characters.” —Kirkus Reviews “This warm slice-of-life novel from Bildner engages and entertains . . . Probert’s energetic illustrations match the positive exuberance of the story.” —Publishers Weekly “With its energetic and authentic story and artwork, this is a fresh, fun book about school, sports, and friendship.” —Children’s Book Council
My Shot - “Elena is one of the brightest stars in our game today and an iconic role model.” —Lisa M. Borders, WNBA President “Inspiring in many ways.” —Kirkus Reviews Elena Delle Donne, 2015 WNBA MVP and 2016 Olympic gold medalist, shares her inspirational story of being a young basketball prodigy who gave up an impressive basketball scholarship for family and self-discovery.
Full Court Press - From 2015 WNBA MVP, 2016 Olympic gold medalist, and global ambassador to the Special Olympics Elena Delle Donne comes the second novel in a brand-new middle-grade series with as much heart as there is game.
From the critically acclaimed author of Amina’s Voice comes the first book in an exciting new chapter book series about a fourth-grader with big dreams of basketball stardom. Fourth grader Zayd Saleem has some serious hoop dreams. He’s not just going to be a professional basketball player. He’s going to be a star. A legend. The first Pakistani-American kid to make it to the NBA. He knows this deep in his soul. It’s his destiny. There are only a few small things in his way. For starters, Zayd’s only on the D-team. (D stands for developmental, but to Zayd it’s always felt like a bad grade or something.) Not to mention, he’s a bit on the scrawny side, even for the fourth grade team. But his best friend Adam is on the Gold Team, and it’s Zayd’s dream for the two of them to play together. His mom and dad don’t get it. They want him to practice his violin way more than his jump shot. When he gets caught blowing off his violin lessons to practice, Zayd’s parents lay down the ultimate punishment: he has to hang up his high tops and isn’t allowed to play basketball anymore. As tryouts for the Gold Team approach, Zayd has to find the courage to stand up for himself and chase his dream.
From the critically acclaimed author of Amina’s Voice comes the second book in an exciting new chapter book series about a scrawny fourth-grader with big dreams of basketball stardom. Now that Zayd has made the Gold Team, he’s hustling hard and loving every minute of the season. But when team starts to struggle, Zayd can’t help wondering if it has something to do with him. Even worse, his best friend Adam suddenly starts acting like he doesn’t care about basketball anymore, even though they are finally teammates. He stops playing basketball with Zayd at recess and starts hanging out with other kids. Then, Adam up and quits the Gold Team to play football instead. While his uncle’s wedding preparations turn life into a circus at home, Zayd is left on his own to figure things out. He has to decide how to still be friends with Adam and step up to fill the empty shoes he left on the court. Does Zayd have what it takes to be on point and lead his team back to victory?
This new story in the exciting series created by Shaquille O'Neal and illustrated by Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent award winner Theodore Taylor III, encourages kids to find their own true talents.Like most kids, Little Shaq doesn't love trying new things, especially if he might not be very good at them. So when his class is assigned projects for the school's upcoming art show, he's not sure that his skills will transfer from the basketball court to the art studio. Rosa Lindy and Barry have their projects all figured out. Can Little Shaq find the confidence to embrace his own style and create a piece for the show? Continuing this series that celebrates community, family, and education, Little Shaq Takes a Chance will inspire readers the to be brave, have fun, and love reading!
From 2015 WNBA MVP, 2016 Olympic gold medalist, and global ambassador to the Special Olympics Elena Delle Donne comes the first novel in a brand-new middle grade series with as much heart as there is game.
Elle Deluca is a seventh grader who is tall—not just sort of tall. She’s six feet tall. And for a twelve-year-old girl, this means that her basketball team has high hopes for her changing positions and becoming their starting center. But a new position is not the only footwork she has to learn. Her class’s dance unit in gym is coming up, and that means she has to learn ballroom dance steps with a boy much shorter than her—and perform publically for a grade.
In the first book in WNBA MVP and Olympic gold medalist Elena Delle Donne’s Hoops series, Elle must figure out a way to remain herself when others want her to be someone else.
Pedro, an avid basketball player, decides to run for class president, challenging a teammate who is also one of the most popular boys in school.
H.O.R.S.E. - One day at the basketball court, two kids, a familiar challenge―H.O.R.S.E.? But this isn’t your grandmother’s game of hoops. Not when a layup from the other side of the court, standing on one foot, with your eyes closed is just the warm-up. Around the neighborhood, around the world, off Saturn’s rings . . . the pair goes back and forth. The game is as much about skill as it is about imagination. A slam dunk from award-winning author and illustrator Christopher Myers, H.O.R.S.E. is a celebration of the sport of basketball, the art of trash-talking, and the idea that what’s possible is bounded only by what you can dream.
Lizzy Legend - A basketball-loving girl makes a wish to never miss a basket in this charming middle grade novel that pushes girl power to the max! Lizzy Trudeaux loves basketball. She doesn’t have much by way of money, but she has access to the community court, a worn ball named Ginger, and she practices constantly. After fighting to join the boy’s team at her school, Lizzy is finally given the opportunity to show off her hard-earned skills. When she answers what she believes is another bill collecting phone call, Lizzy receives a magical wish: the ability to sink every shot. Pure Swish. Now eviscerating the competition in the boy’s league is small potatoes—she has the skills to dominate in the NBA. With the help of her BFF Toby and some viral video action, Lizzy goes all the way to the Philadelphia Bells’ starting lineup, making history and taking names. Then, just as she’s about to go face to face with her hero, the best player on the planet, things begin to fall apart. But Lizzy isn’t a quitter and she’ll play her hardest for the love of the game.
Little Shaq -
The start of a brand new series by Shaquille O'Neal and illustrated by 2014 Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent award winner Theodore Taylor III, Little Shaq is sure to be a hit with young readers. When Little Shaq and his cousin Barry accidentally break their favorite video game, they need to find a way to replace it. That's when Little Shaq's science project inspires a solution: a gardening business. They can water their neighbors' gardens to raise money for a new game! Little Shaq and Barry make a great team both on and off the basketball court, but will their business be as successful as they hoped? Showing kids that anything is possible with the support of friends and family, Little Shaq will inspire them to love reading, play fair, and have fun! Read all the books in the Little Shaq series!
Little Shaq Takes a Chance
Little Shaq: Star of the Week
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