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Running: Books For Kids

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

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

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 running, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like Faster! Faster! to popular sellers like Maniac Magee to some of our favorite hidden gems like Wilma Unlimited.

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

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Wilma Unlimited
Written by Kathleen Krull & illustrated by David Diaz
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

A biography of the African-American woman who overcame crippling polio as a child to become the first woman to win three gold medals in track in a single Olympics.

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Girl Running
Written by Annette Bay Pimentel & illustrated by Micha Archer
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8
  • “A bright salutation of a story, with one determined woman at its center.”–Kirkus Reviews, starred review

The inspiring story of the first female to run the Boston Marathon comes to life in stunningly vivid collage illustrations.

Because Bobbi Gibb is a girl, she’s not allowed to run on her school’s track team. But after school, no one can stop her–and she’s free to run endless miles to her heart’s content. She is told no yet again when she tries to enter the Boston Marathon in 1966, because the officials claim that it’s a man’s race and that women are just not capable of running such a long distance. So what does Bobbi do? She bravely sets out to prove the naysayers wrong and show the world just what a girl can do.

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Her Fearless Run: Kathrine Switzer's Historic Boston Marathon
Written by & illustrated by Ellen Rooney
picture book
Recommend Ages: 8-11

Kathrine Switzer changed the world of running. This narrative biography follows Kathrine from running laps as a girl in her backyard to becoming the first woman to run the Boston Marathon with official race numbers in 1967. Her inspirational true story is for anyone willing to challenge the rules.

The compelling collage art adds to the kinetic action of the story. With tension and heart, this biography has the influential power to get readers into running. An excellent choice for sports fans, New Englanders, young dreamers, and competitive girls and boys alike.

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Ghost
Written by Jason Reynolds
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-13
A National Book Award Finalist for Young People's Literature.
Nominated as one of America's best-loved novels by PBS's The Great American Read.
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Patina
Written by Jason Reynolds
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-13
The sequel to National Book Award Finalist Ghost and a New York Times bestseller
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  • Sidetracked - If middle school were a race, Joseph Friedman wouldn’t even be in last place–he’d be on the sidelines. With an overactive mind and phobias of everything from hard-boiled eggs to gargoyles, he struggles to understand his classes, let alone his fellow classmates. So, he spends most of his time avoiding school bully Charlie Kastner and hiding out in the Resource Room, a safe place for misfit kids like him. But then, on the first day of seventh grade, two important things happen. First, his Resource Room teacher encourages (i.e., practically forces) him to join the school track team, and second, he meets Heather, a crazy-fast runner who isn’t going to be pushed around by Charlie Kastner or anybody else. With a new friend and a new team, Joseph finds himself off the sidelines and in the race (quite literally) for the first time. Is he a good runner? Well, no, he’s terrible. But the funny thing about running is, once you’re in the race, anything can happen.

  • Quickest Kid in Clarksville - It’s the day before the big parade. Alta can only think about one thing: Wilma Rudolph, three-time Olympic gold medalist. She’ll be riding on a float tomorrow. See, Alta is the quickest kid in Clarksville, Tennessee, just like Wilma once was. It doesn’t matter that Alta’s shoes have holes because Wilma came from hard times, too. But what happens when a new girl with shiny new shoes comes along and challenges Alta to a race? Will she still be the quickest kid? <em>The Quickest Kid in Clarksville</em> is a timeless story of dreams, determination, and the power of friendship.

  • The Pumpkin Runner - Nearly all the sheep ranchers in Blue Gum Valley rode horses or drove jeeps to check on their sheep. But Joshua Summerhayes liked to run…with Yellow Dog trailing behind him.” So it’s no surprise when Joshua decides to enter a race from Melbourne to Sydney. People laugh when old Joshua shows up in his overalls and gumboots, calmly nibbling a slice of pumpkin for energy. But then he pulls into the lead, and folks are forced to sit up and take notice. Inspired by a true event (and just in time for fall’s pumpkin harvest!) a talented team introduces a humble and generous hero who knows that winning isn’t always the reason to run a race.

  • Maniac Magee - A Newbery Medal winning modern classic about a racially divided small town and a boy who runs. Jeffrey Lionel “Maniac” Magee might have lived a normal life if a freak accident hadn’t made him an orphan. After living with his unhappy and uptight aunt and uncle for eight years, he decides to run–and not just run away, but run. This is where the myth of Maniac Magee begins, as he changes the lives of a racially divided small town with his amazing and legendary feats.

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Faster! Faster!
Written & illustrated by Leslie Patricelli
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

Hang on tight for more comic joy in this companion to the Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor winner Higher! Higher!

A day at the park. A ride on Daddy’s back. Run, Daddy! Faster! Faster! How fast can Daddy go? Faster than a dog? A horse? How about a cheetah? Must his feet even touch the ground? Leslie Patricelli reprises the duo from Higher! Higher! in another humorous riff on a favorite pastime — a laugh-out-loud-funny tale of few words about doting dads and high-energy kids whose imaginations know no bounds.

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