Parents and teachers often tell me that they want MORE books about sports for kids to help their children and students read more. If you have a reader who loves sports, books about sports can be a great way to hook that child on reading.
I have children’s book recommendations for many sports with separate lists for the sports of baseball, basketball, football, hockey, soccer, and the Olympic sports.
Ready to dive in?
Books about Sports for Kids
If you’re looking for books about specific sports, try these topical book lists.
Best Books About Sports for Kids
Picture Books About Sports
Besides the sports book lists listed above, discover even more sports books for kids, including the sports of tennis, gymnastics, skateboarding, diving, and running.
Kick Push Be Your Epic Self by Frank Morrison
A young skateboarder learns to be himself and find his people in Frank Morrison’s first author/illustrator picture book. Punchy language syncopates through the story with a skateboarding kick-push vibe of energy! Ivan aka. Epic, rolls through his new neighborhood with a kick push but having no friends is getting him down and his attempts at more traditional sports aren’t working. His parents encourage him, his dad gives him back his skateboard, and with a kick, push, bounce, ka-clonk, zwoosh, Epic finds his crew.
When You Can Swim by Jack Wong
Learning to swim brings promises of splashing in the ocean, floating on your back, watching the world float by, finding rushing waterfalls to explore, and slipping into the pond at dusk along with the fish and twilight bugs. Swimming brings many opportunities in different kinds of waters, lakes, canals, ocean, rivers, and finding wonderful adventures of diving, and floating, and listening. Lyrical writing with gorgeous illustrations of diverse people will appeal to swimmers and learning-to-swimmers alike.
Sisters Venus and Serena Williams by Jeanette Winter
Winters beautifully captures the essence of the Williams sisters’ lives and friendship, giving children an inspiring narrative story that shows, not tells, paired with beautiful, captivating art. The girls learn tennis from their dad, practicing, focusing, practicing,…training together, playing together. As adults, the athletes persevere through health challenges yet continue to play and win.
Nadia The Girl Who Couldn’t Sit Still by Karlin Gray, illustrated by Christine Davenier
This lovely biographical picture book introduces a new generation to the hard-working Nadia Comaneci of Romania . . . how she loved to move, discovered gymnastics, failed, practiced, and then won seven perfect 10s at the Olympics in 1956. The illustrations make me want to move, they’re absolutely spot-on for this sweet, true story.
Girls on Wheels written by Srividhya Venkat, illustrated by Kate Wadsworth
I love this energetic growth mindset story and the dynamic illustrations! Three friends meet in the morning at the skate park. But one friend, Anila, is worried about another broken bone so she sits and watches her friends. Anila’s friends encourage her to try, even if she falls. “Skating is for anyone who wants to try,” says Damini. So Anila tries…and she flies. Three girls on wheels! Here they come!
Wilma Unlimited by Kathleen Kull
After having polio as a child, Wilma was told she wouldn’t walk again, let alone run. But Wilma was determined and she worked hard, becoming the first American woman to win three gold medals at the Olympics.
Martina & Chrissie The Greatest Rivalry in the History of Sports by Phil Bildner, illustrated by Brett Helquist
The author’s conversational style makes this story come alive. Readers will be fascinated by the two star tennis players who each work hard to win the championship matches. And for all but a few years, these two women stay close friends. Well-written, informative, and engaging — all the qualities you want in a picture book biography!
The Girl Who Ran Bobbi Gibb, The First Woman to Run the Boston Marathon by Frances Poletti and Kristina Yee, illustrated by Susanna Chapman
It’s now hard to imagine a time (not so long ago) when women were prohibited from doing things like running in a long-distance race simply because of their gender. In this story we learn how Bobbi, a girl who loved to run, wanted to run the Boston Marathon race. But her application for the race was denied because she was a girl. So she disguised herself as a boy and entered the race. When her long hair became uncovered, the racers and spectators cheered her on. She finished the race, paving the way for girls and making history.
Crouching Tiger by Ying Chang Compestine illustrated by Yan Nascimbene
This story captures a common story of feeling embarrassed about being different. When Vinson’s grandpa from China visits, Vinson is embarrassed. However, Vinson learns grandpa is a martial arts master and starts to see him as someone to be proud of. The elements of Chinese culture like tai chi and clothing give readers some important cultural insight.
The Strongest Man in the World: The Legend of Louis Cyr by Lucie Papineau and Caroline Hamel
Even at a young age, Cyprien-Noe of Canada earned the reputation of a Samson. When he learned that weight lifting (actually lifting stones and other heavy objects) was actually a sport, he started doing that, eventually joining a circus. His record, which still exists today, is lifting 4,337 pounds. (WHOA!) This is an interesting story about a lesser-known person.
Sumo Joe by Mia Wenjen, illustrated by Nat Iwata
SUMO / AIKIDO
Introduce your kids to two Japanese traditional martial arts — sumo and aikido in this story about a brother who likes sumo and a sister who prefers aikido. While the rhyming text is minimal, it is also full of rich vocabulary (with a glossary in the back). Sumo Joe and his friends playing sumo in the living room. Until Aikido Jo comes home. Then the siblings face-off and end with a pillow fight. It’s such a fun story that is sure to get your kids up out of their chairs to imitate the martial arts moves.
Muhammad Ali: A Champion Is Born by Gene Barretta, illustrated by Frank Morrison
Kids should all learn the story of Muhammad Ali because his determination and grit are inspiring. And to think, it all started with a stolen bicycle! Read how a police officer got Ali into boxing as well as about his never waning confidence and the grueling workouts. Superbly done.
Helen Thayer’s Arctic Adventure: A Woman and a Dog Walk to the North Pole by Sally Issacs, illustrated by Iva Sasheva
At age 50, Helen will walk to the magnetic north pole — a harrowing journey with ice storms, polar bears, and a lack of food. She and her dog, Charlie, take it day by day and make it. This is a well-written, exciting true story adventure of courage and determination.
Early Sports Themed Chapter Books (Ages 7 – 10)
The Story of Olympic Diver Sammy Lee by Paula Yoo, illustrated by Dom Lee
Don’t miss this interesting early chapter book biography about a Korean American diver, Sammy Lee. Growing up, Sammy could only use the swimming pool one day a week, the day it was for people of color. During the rest of the week, he used a sandpit in his coach’s backyard. Gack! His hard work paid off and you’ll read all about his many challenges leading to eventually competing in the Olympics. He was the first Korean American to win gold for the United States!
The Sports Fairies series by Daisy Meadows
Someone has stolen the sports fairies’ magical items, so it’s up to the two friends to help the fairies and return their items.
Dogsledding and Extreme Sports: A nonfiction companion to Magic Tree House #54 by Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Boyce, illustrated by Carlo Molinari
I learned a lot from this little book; it’s packed full of interesting information about many extreme sports, such as open water swimming, the Iditarod, and the X Games.
Middle Grade Books About Sports for Kids
Ghost by Jason Reynolds
Ghost accidentally gets on a track team, and it’s life-changing. His coach becomes a mentor and father figure who pushes Ghost to take responsibility for his mistakes (stealing sneakers) and to start dealing with the ghosts of his past. Well written and hopeful about growing up and growing into yourself.
Patina by Jason Reynolds
Patina’s anger sometimes gets the best of her but running helps. She’s mad about her dad dying, her mom’s legs being amputated, and her new school. When her track coach makes Patty work with her teammates in a relay, she’s forced to rely on them. And that changes things. Patina is a beautiful coming-of-age story that will tug at your emotions.
Flipping Forward Twisting Backwards by Alma Fullerton
Claire is the best at gymnastics, but she’s not the best at reading. In fact, she can’t read AT ALL–and has fooled everyone for years. She lashes out to protect her secret and gets sent to the principal. The principal figures out that Claire needs learning testing, but Claire’s mom is adamantly against testing. Claire’s friends, her sister, and a supportive teacher help her with word recognition — but she continues to ask her mom to let her get tested, which she eventually does. There’s so much to love about this fast-paced book in verse. I love that Claire is a fully developed character with efficacy who shows readers (and her mom( that having a learning disability doesn’t mean you’re not smart, it means your brain learns differently.
Swim Team by Johnnie Christmas
Bree and her dad move to Florida where she has to take Swim 101 at school. But, she ditches because she can’t swim and is afraid. luckily, her neighbor and babysitter is a former swim team captain, and she teaches Bree how to swim. When Bree accidentally makes the swim team, she learns about teamwork and friendship. This is a wonderful feel-good story about failure, perseverance, and teamwork.
Hands by Torrey Maldonado
Trev thinks a lot about throwing hands. He starts learning how to box so he can protect his mom and sisters when his stepdad gets out of jail. But when his Uncle Larry, Quick and Uncle Frankie all ask him why and encourage him to use his brain, Trev sees how fighting could make things even more of a mess. And that if he wants to have a future, he can use his hands differently than fighting, including for his drawings. Maldonado writes shorter books so keep that in mind if your reader is looking for a short middle grade book.
Guys Read: The Sports Pages
The short stories in the Guys Read books make it easy for boys to pick and choose any story. Because choice is essential. Readers can skip stories, reread favorite stories, and start with just one short story at a time. This collection includes fiction and nonfiction about martial arts, baseball, and other sports.
Black Brother Black Brother by Jewell Parker Rhodes
Twins with very different skin colors, one whiter and one darker, are treated differently, most noticeable at their school. Donte is unfairly accused of something and when he tries to defend himself, the police are called, and he’s suspended from school. Not to mention, a popular guy at his school calls Donte “black brother” because he’s darker than his twin, Trey. Donte starts fencing to get revenge but as he trains, he finds that he’s smart, good at fencing, and courageous. If you think the world still isn’t racist and colorist, read this compelling story, and you’ll see that we still have a long way to go.
Becoming Muhammad Ali by Kwame Alexander and James Patterson
Masterfully plotted and beautifully written, this is the stunning new middle-grade biography of Muhammad Ali from superstars James Patterson and Kwame Alexander. Cassius’s parents don’t encourage boxing because they prefer academics, but Cassius is terrible at school. When he finds boxing, it becomes a powerful outlet and he finally excels at something. Growing up, Cassius notices the unfairness and injustice, preparing him for the activist that he becomes.
Nonfiction Sports Books
Big Book of Why Sports Edition by Sports Illustrated Kids
If your kids love sports, this book takes an in-depth look at many different sports and their histories, along with photographs and illustrations.
Weird But True SPORTS: 300 Wacky Facts About Awesome Athletics
I wasn’t sure what to expect but again, National Geographic out did themselves. Not only are the facts weird (did you know professional hockey players can be penalized for tucking their jerseys into their pants?!), the facts come from a wide range of topics and sports. You might not expect to learn crazy facts about skateboarding, ostrich races, and jet sprint boats, but you will in this book! Highly recommended.
Time for Kids All Access Your Behind the Scenes Pass to the Coolest Things in Sports
Your kids are going to LOVE the lift and look pages – they are tra translucent ges that lift up to reveal another image underneath. Like the page of a downhill skier, lift the top page and you can see her body’s muscles and organs. SO cool. From monster trucks to stadiums that convert from football to ice, this is one of the best nonfiction books that will keep your kids learning and reading.
Weird Zone: Sports
I love books about weird, and I suspect so do your kids. Learn all about the strangest sports in the world. Underwater bike racing? Fun!
Sports Illustrated Kids What Are the Chances? The Wildest Plays in Sports
Stats and sports go hand in hand for sports enthusiasts, right? Flip through this dense book of photographs to read very cool stats!