Celebrating Youth Sports: Book Recommendations
Options for both newcomers and those looking forward to next season
In an era when parents and educators seem increasingly concerned about the harmful effects of too much screen time, encouraging kids to stay active and play sports is more important than ever. These books will inspire your child to try a new sport, stick with an old one (even if it’s discouraging), learn the value of being a team player and feel empowered to include others in their sports endeavors — even if they have a disability. Book cover images courtesy of the respective publishers.
In “Cheerful Chick” (Arthur A. Levine Books, 40 pages, $17.99), author Martha Brockenbrough tells the story of Chick, who has wanted to be a cheerleader from the moment she was born. However, she realizes she is up against a tough crowd when the cows, pigs, sheep, horses and other animals in the barnyard seem wholly unamused by her attempts at ginning up team spirit. In the end, little Chick discovers a squad of chicklets just like herself who back her up and love cheering, too. This tale, geared toward children ages 4-8, offers a great lesson in perseverance and finding a sport that is the best for you.
“Janine and the Field Day Finish” (Albert Whitmaan & Company, 32 pages, $16.99), is a tale of support, encouragement and teamwork. Author-illustrator Maryann Cocca-Leffler introduces readers to Janine, who is not very good at sports. Janine doesn’t have very good vision, and is clumsy and uncoordinated when it comes to athletics, but she is still ready to support her friends and classmates as they compete in field day. Janine is an excellent role model for all kids because she teaches them the value of showing support and feeling happy for others. For example, when her classmate, Abby, trips and falls during a big race, Janine is there to help her cross the finish line. She teaches Abby that winning is not everything. This book was written for ages 4-8.
In “Curious George Joins the Team” (HMH Books for Young Readers, 24 pages, $13.99), author Cynthia Platt continues in the tradition of Curious George’s original creators, Margret and H.A. Rey, by taking us on the lovable chimp’s journey to a nearby park to play basketball. George’s friend, Tina, is also there, but she is in a wheelchair and is too shy to ask if she can join in the fun. George encourages Tina, saying he knows she is just as good as the other kids, and helps her overcome her fears. This story celebrates how kids of all abilities can play together and was written for ages 4-7.
“I Got It!” (Clarion Books, 32 pages, $17.99) by Caldecott Medalist David Wiesner tells the story of an eager young baseball player in the outfield who tries to tame his imagination as he awaits a pop fly that lingers in the air for what seems like an eternity. The young athlete has plenty of time to envision both disastrous and comical situations that might interfere with him catching the ball. Yet in the end, he overcomes the imaginary obstacles (like getting wrapped around a tree or jumping so high he catches a bird instead of the ball) and turns them into a positive athletic experience. “I Got It!” is told almost entirely through illustrations reminiscent of those in the classic tale, “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.” This book was written for ages 4-7.
Elizabeth Lincicome is a mother, communications expert and freelance writer based in Raleigh.