30 Excellent Summer Olympics Books for Kids

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The Summer Olympic Games are an exciting world event of athletics and national pride. Get your kids excited about the different Summer Olympic sports by reading children’s picture books, chapter books, and middle grade books to build up their background knowledge and anticipation for these exciting athletic events.

Did you know that the Summer Olympics has more than twice the sports as the Winter Olympics?

You can see the entire list of sports on Olympics.org, but I’ve listed some of the top summer sports below. Which ones are your favorites to watch?

skateboarding (new in 2021)
water polo

Get ready for the Summer Olympics with this book list to help you follow along with the different sports that you can watch.


Summer Olympics Books for Kids

Summer Olympics Picture Books

Olympig! by Victoria Jamieson
ages 4 – 8
Boomer the Pig is in the Animal Olympics, but he keeps losing his races. And that’s really hard! But he continues to think positively and realizes that it’s all good practice for the next Olympics.

How to Train with a T.Rex and Win 8 Gold Medals by Michael Phelps and Alan Abrahamson
ages 4 – 8
This is a great perspective for kids on how Michael Phelps worked hardreally hard, to accomplish his 8 gold medal wins.

You Wouldn’t Want to Be a Greek Athlete by Michael Ford, illustrated by David Antram
ages 4 – 8
Seriously. It wasn’t easy to be a Greek athlete, as you’ll learn in this interesting depiction of life back in the day. (And you certainly wouldn’t want to be female in this historical time period, either.)

The Frog Olympics by Brian Moses, illustrated by Amy Husband
ages 4 – 8
Yes, there’s pole vaulting in the Frog Olympics but there’s also fly-catching, too. This is a competition where athletes of all sizes and abilities can enter the events.

Summer Olympics by Matt Christopher
ages 4 – 8
What sports will you see in the summer Olympics? From aquatics to tennis, gymnastics to sailing, there are so many sports to discover during this competitive event. You’ll learn about the famous athletes in each sport. Athletes like Jesse Owens, Olga Korbut, Mary Lou Retton, and Wilma Rudolph.

Olympics (DK Eyewitness) by Chris Oxlade and David Ballheimer
ages 8 – 12
Learn about the first Olympics, the differences between the winter and summer Games, behind the scenes, and lots more. Photographs fill the pages alongside informational text.

What Are the Summer Olympics? by Gail Herman, illustrated by Stephen Marchesi and Kevin McVeigh
ages 6 – 9
A great book for elementary students, this beginning chapter book starts with the history of the Olympics and continues with politics, and memorable events. Illustrated with line drawings.

What Are the Paralympic Games? by Gail Herman, illustrated by Andrew Thomson
ages 6 – 9
The Paralympic Games features athletes with disabilities. The Paralympic Games were started for wounded WWII soldiers and just like the Olympics, the Paralympics feature summer and winter games every four years.

Ancient Greece and the Olympians by Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Boyce
ages 6 – 9
You’ll learn about ancient Greece and its culture as well as the first Olympics and the Olympics in modern times in this well-written beginning chapter book filled with photographs and illustrations.

Tae Kwon Do! by Terry Pierce
ages 5 – 7
This very basic early reader takes readers through a class of Tae Kwon Do, giving kids a glimpse of this martial art appearing in the Olympics.

Everything Soccer (National Geographic Kids) by Blake Hoena
ages 6 – 9
Soccer is a favorite universal sport, so learn everything about it (there’s a lot in this small book!) before you see it played at the Olympics. As you might expect, this National Geographic book is filled with captivating full-color photos. MORE SOCCER (Football) BOOKS HERE

Max Explains Everything Soccer Expert by Stacy McAnulty, illustrated by Deborah Hocking
ages 4 – 8
A funny and playful kids-eye view of the game of soccer that doesn’t focus on winning but the fun of playing and of course, the snacks. Max explains everything from warming up to what to bring to the game. MORE SOCCER BOOKS HERE

I Want to Be a Gymnast by Kate Simkins
ages 5 – 7
There aren’t very many well-done updated gymnastics children’s books that aren’t fiction or autobiography, so I’m including this as a basic starting point book. It’s a beginning reader that will introduce kids to some of the moves in gymnastics.

Nadia The Girl Who Couldn’t Sit Still by Karlin Gray, illustrated by Christine Davenier
ages 4 – 8
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 Summer Olympics in 1956. The illustrations make me want to move, they’re absolutely spot-on for this sweet, true story.

My First Book of Basketball (A Rookie Book / Sports Illustrated Kids)
ages 4 – 8
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.” MORE BASKETBALL BOOKS HERE.

Swimming and Diving
ages 6 – 9
This beginning reader is filled with color photography about swimming and diving in the Summer Olympics.
Also in this series: BasketballCombat SportsTrack and Fieldand Gymnastics.

ages 4 – 8
Get the scoop on volleyball in the Summer Olympics
, including rules for playing, an overview of indoor and beach volleyball, and well-known players such as Misty May-Treanor and Kari Walsh Jennings.

Riding for Kids by Judy Richter
ages 8 – 12
This is a photograph-filled informational guide to the basics of English riding.

On the Water: Rowing, Yachting, Canoeing, & Lots, Lots, More (Zeke’s Olympic Pocket Guide) by Jason Page
ages 6 – 9
Written for the Sydney, Australia Olympics, this little book is about the sports of sailing, rowing, and canoeing.

P is for  Putt: A Golf Alphabet by Brad Herzog, illustrated by Bruce Langton
ages 4 – 8
Take a look at the history, game elements, and superstars of golf in this informative alphabet book.

First Sail by Richard Henderson, illustrated by Jennifer Heyd Wharton
ages 4 – 8
Adam’s cousin Beth shows him how to sail — things like nautical terms, channel markers, safety, knots, and anchoring. When a storm arises he’ll have to make use of his beginning knowledge.

Soccer Atlas: A Journey Across the World and Onto the Soccer Field by James Buckley Jr., illustrated by Eduard Altarriba
ages 8+
This encyclopedic book will teach readers all about football/soccer starting with the basics of the field to FIFA and the World Cup to soccer around the world, the superstars of the sport, and much more. Illustrated with some photos and cool layouts that will appeal to readers.

The Story of Simone Biles by Rachelle Burk
ages 6 – 8
Simone Biles’s life story is an inspiring one — she has won more gymnastic medals than anyone in history and continues to be a top performer and advocate for other athletes. This illustrated biography will help kids learn all about this amazing athlete from her early years to the present day.

The Story of Olympic Diver Sammy Lee by Paula Yoo, illustrated by Dom Lee
ages 6 – 8
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!

I’ve Got the No-Skateboard Blues by Anita Yasuda, illustrated by Jorge Horacio Santillan
ages 6 – 8
Tyler’s in trouble with his parents, and he has a broken skateboard. He’s got the No-Skateboard Blues. Can he get a new skateboard before the big contest and will he be allowed to compete?

Kudo Kids: The Mystery of the Masked Medalist by Maia Shibutani, Alex Shibutani, and Michelle Schusterman, illustrated by Yaoyao Ma Van As
ages 9 – 12
The two-time bronze medalists Maia and Alex Shibutani bring you a middle-grade mystery set during the Tokyo Olympics! The siblings encounter puzzles, secrets, and gaming during this thrilling Olympic adventure.

The Story of the Olympics Games by The Olympic Museum
ages 8+
Starting with the history of the ancient Olympic Games, learn how a man named PIerre de Courbertin decided to modernize the ancient sports festival which launched in Athens in 1896. This offical book, created in association with the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, takes kids on a historical journey from those first Olympic games all the way to the present day. Photographs, artifacts, and illustrations catch your eye as you read the history, facts, and mini-biographies throughout this beautiful book.

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  1. I love your book lists. I am a volunteer librarian in a small school so they really help me find good books to read aloud and to recommend to kids. Currently I am searching for early chapter books about football. Do you have a list for that subject. Thanks!

    1. Karen,
      I don’t have one published but I can tell you some titles here…
      – Sports Illustrated Kids Graphic Novels like Quarterback Rush by Carl Bowen and Eduardo Garcia
      – Sports Illustrated Kids Illustrated Victory School Superstars like A Running Back Can’t Always Rush by Nate LeBoutillier
      – MVP series by David A. Kelly

  2. I appreciate this list. My kids and I were looking for book recommendations to read for the upcoming Olympics. I’m hoping my library will have some of these.