Here we are, over the July 4th hump…landing smack, dab in the middle of SUMMER. Isn’t it great? Long days, cool beverages, looser schedules, beach towels, flip flops, peaches, watermelon, and maybe just a little bit of . . . BASEBALL!
If you’re one to enjoy America’s favorite pastime this summer, think about throwing in (no pun intended) a few baseball books to try alongside your trips to the games (or after Little League practice). Especially if you have a reluctant reader on your hands, matching a book with a real-life experience is sometimes a way to garner interest. Summer reading was never so easy!
When in Asheville, we root, root, root for the Tourists (if they don’t win it’s a shame)! You read that correctly: the Tourists. If I’m not mistaken, they were once the Moonshiners, but somewhere through the years, their name changed to the Tourists. Maybe it is easier to explain to the tots, I have no idea. But, their merchandise still has some moons on it, a holdover from the old days.
In fact, Mr. Moon danced (and waved American flags) last night to Sweet Caroline (sung at every game; we’re not in Texas anymore!) on top of the dugout. Who doesn’t love a dancing moon head?
To be honest, I almost hesitate to mention it because there are so many books about baseball – which ones to highlight? Let it be known that if you pop into your bookstore or swing by your local library, you’re likely to find other great reads about baseball. This is, in no way, a complete list of quality baseball books, but it is a start. Use it! Try some! Make your summer outings that much meaningful when you pair a book with an adventure!
First, let’s begin with some authors well known for writing fiction books about baseball (some of these writers write about other sports, too). Please do some legwork – some of these writers/books have stories for the younger set and others for teens (and some for adults), so make sure you’re making a good content match with their books and your reader.
Matt Christopher – Kinda the King of elementary-aged sports fiction. Most libraries have a full shelf devoted to him. He also has a few non-fiction offerings, as well.
Dan Gutman – Specifically, his Baseball Card Adventure books. A little time travel, a little history, a little baseball. Appealing especially to kiddos interested in amazing players of the past.
Tim Green – most of his books feature football, but look for his Baseball Great series; generally for more middle grade readers.
Mike Lupica – writes about all kinds of sports, some of his series, such as Comeback Kids, feature a different sport for each book in the series. Some of his books are more for teens, while others a match for elementary.
John Coy – like Lupica, he has a series, 4 for 4, in which each book in the series features a story on a different sport. Many of his other books are hits with the teen set.
Kevin Markey – the Super Sluggers series is a frequent hit with baseball enthusiasts.
Cal Ripkin, Jr. and Kevin Cowherd – the All Stars series are all baseball stories. Sure, the famous author has some name recognition, but they consistently receive positive reviews from their intended audience.
David A. Kelly – Check out his Ballpark Mysteries series (mysteries and baseball, what’s not to love?) and his Most Valuable Player series. Perfect for new chapter-book readers.
Of course, these aren’t the only people who have some stories about baseball! Here are (just a few) of my favs. Dig around your bookstore; use the library’s catalog – there are tons of others!
How about some baseball biographies? There are hundreds! Bookstores will have them, but check out your library – many children’s libraries will often have a robust biography section, often with baseball/sports players. Certainly you will find some on Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and many, many more.
Check out the non-fiction baseball books, as well. You will likely find a few books that literally tell you how to play baseball, but other baseball books will cover topics such as the most unusual calls in baseball history, greatest players of all time, all kinds of topics. Here are a few of my favorite non-fiction books:
One last note: if your reader has mostly graduated from picture books and is well on her way as a reader, please don’t pass up some of the shorter books. Many 32-pagers have author’s notes at the tail end of the book, providing additional information about the topic at hand. If you have a true baseball lover, this extra information will often fascinate.
Be it the Astros, the Tourists, or your team of choice, baseball is the name of the game in summertime. Before you head to a game – or possibly after – see if you can tie in some reading to your little excursion to the ballpark. You might find that you learn as much as the children!
Contact me at fplweb (at) frontporchlibrarian dot com