The Best Basketball Books for Kids of All Ages
My First Book of Basketball (A Rookie Book / Sports Illustrated Kids)
Basketball made simple — I love this combination of photos and illustrations that make this picture book visually appealing. Not only that, the text is perfect for young readers. “The team that has the ball is called the offense.“
My First Basketball Book by Sterling Children’s
Photographs plus one word like “defend” and “jump shot” show kids what the game is all about.
Salt in His Shoes by Deloris Jordan & Roslyn M. Jordan, illustrated by Kadir Nelson
Mike wants to grow taller so he’ll be better at basketball. His mom tells him to put salt in his shoes and say a prayer every night. But his father also tells young Michael that it also takes hard work and patience. It’s an optimistic, growth mindset perspective.
Stephen Curry: The Boy Who Never Gave Up by Anthony Curcio
People said Steph Currey was too short, too weak, and not good enough. But he followed his dreams and proved everyone wrong. This picture book biography will be popular with sports lovers.
B is for Baller by James Littlejohn, illustrated by Matthew Shipley
Illustrations that leap off the page help kids get excited about this basketball alphabet book where B is for Larry Bird, D is for Dr J, and F is for Fast Break.
Hoop Genius: How a Desperate Teacher and a Rowdy Gym Class Invented Basketball by John Coy, illustrated by Joe Morse
James Naismith’s gym students are wild. He’s the third teacher to try to get them under control. So, he invents a game out of frustration and necessity — basketball.
Above the Rim How Elgin Baylor Changed Basketball by Jen Bryant, illustrated by Frank Morrison
Elgin grew up during segregation which dictated where he was allowed to play basketball and attend college. But even traveling with his NBA basketball team, he was often turned away. Eglin decided to protest the discrimination by sitting out of future basketball games. His activist actions made a difference. The NBA put out a statement that they would not give their business to hotels and restaurants that discriminated against Black people.
Basketball Break by CC Joven
Lucas likes basketball but he must learn how to share the ball with his teammate. Simple sentences with repetition.
Pass the Ball, Mo! by David A. Adler, illustrated by Sam Ricks
Mo is obsessed with basketball. But everyone on his team is taller and he’s having trouble passing the ball high enough. His dad helps him practice passing higher which pays off during the next game.
Basketball’s Greatest Players by S.A. Kramer
A photo-filled early chapter books, this book features biographies of some of the greatest bball players like Wilt Chamberlain and Larry Bird.
Nobody Wants to Play with a Ball Hog by Julie Gassman, illustrated by Jorge Horacio Santillan
I love how the Sports Illustrated Kids series are illustrated in eye-catching, full-color illustrations. In this basketball story, Tyler learns that he’s never missed a shot. Unfortunately, this leads to more than a little ball-hogging and mad teammates. Will he learn to share the ball with his friends?
Five Fouls and You’re Out by Val Priebe, illustrated by Jorge Horacio Santillan
Even though Carmen is a good dribbler, she is always getting too many fouls. Luckily, her teammates can help her so she stops the fouling and stays in the game.
Hoop Queen (Kylie Jean) by Marci Peschke, illustrated by Tuesday Morning
My daughter loved this series when she was little. Kylie Jean is an enthusiastic, cheerful Texan girl who, in this story, is trying basketball. But it’s harder than she thought. She’ll work hard and learn that even though she’s better, sometimes you can’t always win every game.
Little Shaq Takes a Chance by Shaquille O’Neal
Trying new things isn’t what Little Shaq wants to do. Only when he does, he learns that they can be fun.
Power Forward by Hena Khan
Filled with Urdu and Pakistani culture, this is a short beginning chapter book about a boy who loves basketball. Unfortunately, he skips violin lessons and lies to his parents in order to go to extra basketball practices. Zayd learns some hard lessons both about honesty and communication with his family which, in the end, makes his life better.
STAT: Standing Tall and Talented: Home Court by Amar’e Stoudemir, illustrated by Tim Jessell
The Crossover by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Dawud Anybwile
The Crossover graphic novel version is a fast-paced read that packs a big punch visually and emotionally. Kids love Alexander’s lyrical writing and how he seems to just “get” the teenage human condition. (Hint: it’s messy and wonderful and complicated and real.) Basketball player and twin Josh narrates his life in quarters, just like the game he plays. He writes about missing his twin when his twin, Jordan, gets a girlfriend. He shares about getting into trouble when he hits Jordan in the face with a basketball. And he reveals the pain of watching his father as his heart fails. Don’t miss this coming-of-age story about a boy trying to figure out his life.
Rebound by Kwame Alexander
Chuck makes a big mistake that gets him sent home early– but I love seeing his family’s example of boundaries plus unconditional love.
Falling Short by Ernesto Cisneros
Neighbors and best friends, Marco and Issac, head to middle school where their differences — one is short and academic, the other is tall and sporty, don’t affect their loyalty to each other. They also have in common absent dads except at least Issac’s dad wants to be part of Issac’s life — if he’s not drinking. In the end, a high-stakes basketball game and bad car accident show these friends, and their teammates, that friendship matters most of all.
Travel Team by Mike Lupica
When Danny gets cut unfairly from his local travel team, Danny’s former basketball playing dad organizes a new team for his son and other cut players. Unfortunately, just as their team makes it to the playoffs, Danny’s dad gets into a car accident. In a story about resiliency and determination, will Danny and his team be able to go on?
Training Camp (The Wizenard Series) by Wesley King, created by Kobe Bryant
You will be amazed at how cool it is to read a story about basketball and MAGIC showing the transformative power of a good coach. The West Bottom Badgers come from a poor neighborhood and aren’t any good, plus each teammate has secret challenges and fears that are slowly revealed. Fortunately, when Professor Wizenard arrives, everything changes.
Beastly Basketball (Sports Illustrated Kids Graphic Novels) by Lauren Amanda Johnson, illustrated by Eduardo Garcia
When Joe’s martial arts studio closes, he joins the school basketball team. It’s really disorganized though so Joe uses the strategies he learned in martial arts to help the team grow in confidence and success.
Pippa Park Raises Her Game by Erin Yun
Taking Up Space by Alyson Gerber
Sarah’s mom’s dysfunctional relationship with food is affecting Sarah– who now thinks that her slowness in basketball is related to eating too much or too many “unhealthy” foods, instead of being from the normal growing pains of puberty. She’s confused, starving herself, and stressed out. Finally, a friend pushes Sarah to get help…and, help is just what Sarah needs to understand the truth about her body, what health truly is, and how her mom’s disordered eating has affected her.
Basketball Camp Champ (Jake Maddox Graphic Novels) by Jake Maddox, illustrated by Berenice Muniz
Ana’s excited to go to a basketball summer camp. But she’s confused when the coach asks them to do “zone defense” and she starts to doubt her skills. She’ll have to ask for help to make the most of this unique camp.
All American Boys by Jason Reynolds
When a white cop accuses a 16-year-old black boy named Rashad of shoplifting, then beats him with his fists which is caught on video and witnessed by a white boy named Quinn, who saw the cop as a stand-in father. Soon, the entire town takes sides including the basketball team who are Rashad’s best friends. Racial tensions grow and Quinn is forced to reckon with the actions of his father figure.
Elle of the Ball by Elena Delle Donne
Elle is a 6-foot-tall 7th grader. So her basketball team expects a lot from her. But just as she’s learning her new position of center, she’s also worried about her ballroom dance class where she’s partnered with a short boy.
Nicki on the Line by Barbara Carrol Roberts
Nikki’s thrilled when she makes it onto an elite-level club team but she’s no longer the best girl on the team or a point guard. To make matters more complicated, she’s having friend troubles, has to babysit her younger brother after school, and doesn’t know how to complete an impossible family tree assignment. Her confidence drops bit until she decides to take a risk and reinvent herself.
True Legend by Mike Lupica
Drew’s ego is growing as he masters the court but so are his troubles. But a chance meeting with a former playground legend turns opens Drew’s eyes to a different path.
Hoop Kings 2 New Royalty by Charles R. Smith Jr.
Filled with movement, these lyrical poems extol the strengths of individual basketball players illustrated with photographs and graphics. “Buckle your seat belts / cleared for takeoff, Blake Griffin on the runway / ready to liftoff.” The poems are filled with interesting wordplay. Kids who love basketball will love these poems!
Who Is Michael Jordan?
From his childhood to his NBA career, read the biography of superstar Michael Jordan, one of the best players the game has ever seen.
The Everything Kids’ Basketball Book by Bob Schaller with Coach Dave Harnish
Read the basics of the game and the history, then dive into the great players and coaches of the game. Filled with information, activities, and more — this is quite an amazing resource book that will fascinate your kids.
Stephen Curry: The Inspiring Story of One of Basketball’s Sharpest Shooters by Clayton Geoffreys
This is a detailed biography that follows Steph Curry’s childhood, college years, and NBA career perfect for fans of the sport and Curry.
Slam Dunk: Top 10 Lists of Everything in Basketball by Sports Illustrated Kids
Kids love these list books! Read the top greatest players, teams, hairstyles, duos, trades, quotes, and SO MUCH more — it’s essential trivia for basketball fans.