By Ashly Moore Sheldon • March 15, 2021
When last year's March Madness was halted (along with all of our own sporty pastimes) due to the pandemic, we were disappointed, but we had no idea that the hiatus would last as long as it did. For young athletes (and their parents!), this abrupt cessation of physical activities was particularly difficult. Deprived of these exertions, tiny tots were near to bursting with unspent energy. Many older kids struggled with increased levels of anxiety and depression, not to mention missing the companionship of their teammates. High school jocks may have worried that their opportunities were passing them by.
As we all know, when you can't do the thing you love, reading about it can be therapeutic. Here are a variety of great stories about sports for kids of all ages.
Sisters: Venus and Serena Williams by Jeannette Winter
A celebrated picture book biographer shares the story of the champion tennis players and their road to greatness. Before they were famous athletes, they were sisters with big dreams growing up in Compton, California.
Karate Kids by Holly Sterling
Gi? Ready! Belt? Ready! Hai-YAH! Join Maya and her friends as they get together at the dojo for karate class. Maya is still a white belt, but with focus, balance, and determination, she'll show Sensei that she's got what it takes to go far.
The Field by Baptiste Paul
"The field calls!" cries a girl as she and her younger brother rouse their family, friends, and the local fruit vendor for a pickup futbol game. This award-winning picture book captures the grit and glory of the world's most inclusive sport.
How to Solve a Problem by Ashima Shiraishi
To a rock climber, a boulder is called a "problem," and you solve it by climbing to the top. The author draws on her experience as a young, world-class climber in this story that challenges readers to rise to great heights.
The Boy Who Never Gave Up by Anthony Curcio
This picture book biography tells the inspiring true story of NBA superstar Stephen Curry. As he rose up, he defied many who said he was too short to play in high school, too weak to play in college, and not good enough to play in the NBA.
Takedown by Laura Shovan
Some people don't think a girl should be on the wrestling team. But that's not stopping Mikayla. She's determined to work hard and win. When she and Lev get paired together at the beginning of sixth grade, he worries that it might get in the way of making the state championships.
Becoming Kareem by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
From a childhood made difficult by racism and prejudice to a record-smashing career on the basketball court, the basketball legend shares the story of how he became the iconic figure he is today, both on and off the court.
Track Series by Jason Reynolds
Ghost. Lu. Patina. Sunny. Four strong-willed kids from wildly different backgrounds are chosen for an elite middle school track team—a team that could qualify them for the Junior Olympics if they can get their acts together.
Booked by Kwame Alexander
In this electric novel-in-verse—a follow-up to the Newbery-winning The Crossover—twelve-year-old soccer player Nick learns the power of words as he navigates problems at home, stands up to a bully, and tries to impress the girl of his dreams.
Up for Air by Laurie Morrison
Thirteen-year-old Annabelle struggles in school, no matter how hard she tries. But as soon as she dives into the pool, she's unstoppable. She's the fastest girl on the middle school swim team, and when she's asked to join the high school team over the summer, everything starts changing.
Check, Please! by Ngozi Ukazu
A collection of the megapopular webcomic series of the same name, this is the first book of a hilarious and stirring two-volume coming-of-age story about hockey, bros, and trying to find yourself. And here's Book Two.
The Art of Holding On and Letting Go by Kristin Bartley Lenz
Competitive climber Cara Jenkins feels most at home high off the ground, clinging to a rock wall by her fingertips. But when tragedy strikes on an Ecuadorian mountaintop, the freewheeling lifestyle she's known comes to an abrupt halt.
Here to Stay by Sara Farizan
What happens when a kid who's flown under the radar for most of high school makes the winning basket in a varsity playoff game? For Bijan Majidi, it means high fives in the hallways and invitations to exclusive parties—along with anonymous cyberbullying about his Middle Eastern heritage.
Beautiful Broken Hearts by Kami Garcia
Star soccer player Peyton's senior year is off to a great start with an offer from her first-choice college. But after a mysterious fall down the stairs, her knee is shattered. With her future unclear, Peyton goes to stay with her uncle while she recovers.
Million-Dollar Throw by Mike Lupica
Thirteen-year-old Nate Brodie has a golden arm. Everyone calls him "Brady" because he's a New England quarterback, just like his idol. When he gets a chance to win a million dollars by throwing a halftime pass at a Patriots Game, a lot is on the line. Especially since his family really needs the money.
As things are finally starting to get back to normal, we are all celebrating the resumption of our favorite activities. The thrill of March Madness will be sweeter than ever, as will our own returns to the fields, pools, mats, courts, and tracks.