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Find more Top 10 Sports Books for Youth
The diversity within sports is on full display in this year’s top 10 sports books for youth—reviewed in Booklist between September 1, 2020, and August 2021—including fiction and nonfiction accounts of sports such as double Dutch, Muay Thai, skateboarding, and even one fantastical competition involving dragons.
Above the Rim: How Elgin Baylor Changed Basketball. By Jen Bryant. Illus. by Frank Morrison. 2020. Abrams, $18.99 (9781419741081). Gr. 2–5.
This picture-book biography of NBA legend Elgin Baylor, impressively illuminated by Morrison, tracks the baller’s life from youth to the big leagues, highlighting his principled stand against discrimination, as well as his innovative basketball skills.
Ana on the Edge. By A. J. Sass. 2020. Little, Brown, $16.99 (9780316458610). Gr. 4–7.
Sass masterfully balances Ana Jin’s passion for competitive figure skating with her journey to coming out as nonbinary, an issue brought to the surface through having to skate a princess-themed program and a new friendship with Hayden, a transgender boy.
Blazewrath Games. By Amparo Ortiz. 2020. Page Street, $18.99 (9781645670797). Gr. 7–10.
Lana’s dream of becoming the Puerto Rican “Runner” in the Blazewrath games—a televised bloodsport in which dragons and their magical riders chase the Regular, an unmagical Runner, for prizes and glory—is finally coming true, though at a cost she never anticipated.
Jayla Jumps In. By Joy Jones. 2020. Albert Whitman, $16.99 (9780807560761). Gr. 3–6.
Jayla, an only child stuck in the middle of her large, extended African American family in Washington, D.C., finds in double Dutch rope-jumping a way to build connections and inspire those around her to partake in a healthier lifestyle.
The Knockout. By Sajni Patel. 2021. Flux, $17.99 (9781635830590). Gr. 9–12.
17-year-old Kareena and her family feel ostracized by their Indian community, thanks in part to her dedicated study of Muay Thai. As she keeps her martial-arts participation a secret, she must come to terms with her identity and cultural validity.
Lupe Wong Won’t Dance. By Donna Barba Higuera. 2020. Levine Querido/Arthur A. Levine, $17.99 (9781646140039). Gr. 4–7.
The only thing standing between Lupe and meeting her baseball hero, Fu Li Hernandez, is an A in square dancing, a P.E. unit she attempts to have removed from the curriculum—only to have her efforts humorously backfire.
The Racers: How an Outcast Driver, an American Heiress, and a Legendary Car Challenged Hitler’s Best. By Neal Bascomb. 2020. Scholastic/Focus, $18.99 (9781338277418). Gr. 5–8.
In this slice of auto-racing history, set against Hitler’s rise to power, the cutting-edge cars and their driving aces claim the spotlight, leading up to the 1938 Pau Grand Prix in France.
Sakamoto’s Swim Club: How a Teacher Led an Unlikely Team to Victory. By Julie Abery. Illus. by Chris Sasaki. 2021. Kids Can, $17.99 (9781525300318). K–Gr. 3.
In 1930s Maui, the sugar plantation workers’ children weren’t allowed to swim in its irrigation ditches, but Soichi Sakamoto persuaded the company to let him become the kids’ swimming coach, leading them on to great success.
Singled Out: The True Story of Glenn Burke. By Andrew Maraniss. 2021. Philomel, $17.99 (9780593116722). Gr. 9–12.
Maraniss tells Glenn Burke’s dramatic and ultimately tragic story as the first Major League Baseball player to come out as gay in this memorable biography and de facto history of gay rights.
Skate for Your Life. By Leo Baker. Illus. by Ashley Lukashevsky. 2021. Penguin Workshop, $8.99 (9780593223475). Gr. 7–12.
This accessible entry in the Pocket Change Collective series shares Leo Baker’s firsthand account as a transmasculine person in the professional skateboarding community, amid its sexism, homophobia, and transphobia.
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