Sports are a universal theme for readers

March 20, 2009|By CATHERINE HALL

With March Madness upon us, college basketball talk is hard to miss. Fan or not, this month, you can't get away from bracketology, win/loss ratios and peaking players.

Here at the Washington County Free Library, we're always looking for ways to match kids with books. Sports books are often popular with boys, especially boys who are reluctant to read.

However, sports books offer universal themes for all young readers. After all, there is a reason sports metaphors are often employed when talking about character-development themes such as overcoming hardships ("jumping hurdles"), playing well with others ("team player"), and sticking it out until the end ("coming down the home stretch").

Basketball and other sports-related books can play a key role in encouraging positive character development in all young readers.

Whether you just can't get enough basketball talk or you're interested in sports as life metaphor, now is a good time to check out the Children's Department's basketball-related materials. We have instructional DVDs, biographies about players, books about teams, novels about kids involved in basketball, and picture books for the youngest fans.


If you are interested in reading a novel about basketball or other sports, you may wish to find books by sports-fiction writers such as Matt Christopher, Dan Gutman, Gordon Korman, Mike Lupica, Jake Maddox or Walter Dean Myers.

If you need to get in and out of the library, here is a quick pick list of Basketball books for you:

"Basketball Bats" by Betty Hicks (ages 5 to 7)

Henry learns a lesson in teamwork when his inexperienced basketball team, the Bats, takes on the Tigers, a team that not only plays at the big YWCA but has a player old enough to shave.

"Salt in His Shoes" by Deloris Jordan (ages 5 and older)

This heartwarming picture book, written by the superstar Michael Jordan's mother and sister, resonates with the message that what every child needs most is the love, guidance and encouragement of family.

"Donavan's Double Trouble" by Monalisa DeGross (ages 7 to 10)

Fourth-grader Donavan is sensitive about the problems he has understanding math. Then, his favorite uncle, a former high school basketball star, returns from National Guard duty as an amputee, and Donavan struggles to accept this "new" Uncle Vic.

"House of Sports" by Marisabina Russo (ages 9 to 12)

Through a series of triumphs and tragedies at home, at school and on the basketball court, plus time reluctantly spent with his elderly grandmother, 12-year-old Jim Malone learns that there is a lot more to life than basketball.

"Stanford Wong Flunks Big Time" by Lisa Yee (ages 9 to 12)

After flunking sixth-grade English, basketball prodigy Stanford Wong must struggle to pass his summer-school class, keep his failure a secret from his friends, and satisfy his academically demanding father.

"Slam Dunk" by Sharon Robinson (ages 9 to 12)

Jumper, from Robinson's previous book, "Safe at Home," settles into his new school in Harlem, runs for class president and tries to raise enough money to start a basketball team for his school.

"Airball: My Life in Briefs" by Lisa Harkrader (ages 10 to 13)

Uncoordinated Kansas seventh-grader Kirby Nickel braves his coach's ire and becomes captain of the basketball team in order to help him prove that NBA star Brett McGrew is the father he has never known.

"Travel Team" by Mike Lupica (ages 10 to 14)

After he is cut from his traveling basketball team - the very same team that his father once led to national prominence - 12-year-old Danny Walker forms his own team of cast-offs that might have a shot at victory.

"Box Out" by John Coy (ages 12 and older)

High school sophomore Liam jeopardizes his new position on the varsity basketball team when he decides to take a stand against his coach who is leading prayers before games and forcing players to participate.

"Boost" by Kathryn Mackel (ages 12 and older)

Thirteen-year-old Savvy is the girls basketball team's star player. But despite her height and skills, Savvy struggles with her self-confidence and searches for some way to boost her performance. When steroids are found in her bag, Savvy denies they are hers, but rumors start to fly.

"Slam" by Walter Dean Myers (ages 12 and older)

Sixteen-year-old "Slam" Harris is counting on his noteworthy basketball talents to get him out of the inner city and give him a chance to succeed in life, but his coach sees things differently.

Catherine Hall is children's librarian with the Washington County Free Library.

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