Baseball season is in full swing and we are way overdue for a round up of books to share with our little players and fans. I was just complaining to a friend about how baseball has taken over our house but after reading many of these books with my kids I have fallen back in love. Baseball is more than a game and these books get that. Here are 15 books about baseball to read with your kids.
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Mama Played Baseball by David A. Adler This baseball story is told through the eyes of a little girl who watches everything change during World War Two. Her dad goes off to war and her mom tries out for the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, and makes the cut! The story is simple and I was left wanting more but understood why the author ended it when he did. It’s a great book to explain the basics of what baseball was like on the homefront during World War Two.
The Babe & I by David A. Adler is not really a story about baseball, it’s a story about The Great Depression and pride. A young boy discovers that the job he thought his father had is not what it seems and starts selling newspapers to help out. Not only does he learn about secrets and pride , he also learns about hard work. Babe Ruth does play a part but only a little one. I love this book but it’s not for your average picture book crowd. I think it’s a little heavy for 3-5 year olds , I didn’t share it yet with my 7 year old but I think his age would get the full story and maybe learn a little about their own life in the process.
Players In Pigtails by Shana Corey . This book is all about the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. If you are reading this with your child you will probably start thinking about the Penny Marshall movie A League Of Their Own which is all about the same league. It’s doubtful our kids will make the same connection and most may not even know anything about the special role women played in baseball during WWII. This book can change that and maybe how they look at the nice old ladies at church… my son asked me ” Do you think they played baseball?” while nodding towards two of the older ladies at our church after reading this. I loved the main character and how determined and sure of herself she was, not a bad role model for our girls and boys.
Roasted Peanuts by Tim Egan is a sweet story about friendship, disappointment, and achievement. I really enjoyed this book and the sweet supportive friendship between friends with very different abilities. As kids get into elementary school they really start noticing that different people have different talents and abilities start spreading out. This is a great book to read when those questions like ” How can he hit so much further than me?” start popping up.
Ballpark Mysteries #1: The Fenway Foul-up (A Stepping Stone Book(TM)) by David A. Kelly is just one of the many Ballpark Mysteries books we have read over the past year. The books center around Mike and Kate two cousins who get an insider view of the world of baseball because Kate’s mom is a sports writer covering the games. The kids are great sleuths and although things can get tense I don’t think that these early chapter books will scare any readers. I love the mix of sports and geography as each book is set in a different ball park. My son devours these books. In this one a special bat goes missing … but can the kids find it? Spoiler… Yes!
Clorinda Plays Baseball! by Robert Kinerk was loved by my son and not by me. I love absurd humor but for me this rhyming book just didn’t work. Clorinda the cow was playing on a farm team and then discovered a boy who was super talented and coached him to the major leagues. When he was unable to play without his coach she was brought to the games … I just lost interest and when she flew a helicopter and was a pinch hitter in the championship game I rolled my eyes. However, my son loved this book and probably not just because I didn’t. He wasn’t looking at it through my old cranky eyes where cows can’t fly helicopters, he saw it as funny ,heartwarming, and nice. I’ll let you decide!
Batter Up Wombat by Helen Lester is a cute story about a Wombat who is discovering baseball for the first time. All the lingo is foreign to him. The different meanings get the wombat confused and will get your children laughing! It’s a sweet book that ends with the wombat saving the day even if he can’t play baseball .
Baseball Saved Us by Ken Mochizuki is such an important book for children to read. This book is all about how baseball helped keep children and families busy at Minidoka the internment camp in Idaho during world War Two. A lot of adults don’t know much if anything about this part of American history and this book is a good place to start teaching your child about it. From a child’s perspective readers see the injustice and grief during and after confinement. Although my son knows a good bit about Japanese internment during WWII this book personalized it for him and baseball gave him something to connect him to the boys in the story.
Baseball Hour by Carol Nevius is a simple book that explains what goes on at baseball practice. Seems kinda bland… but it’s not. The rhyming text coupled with stunning ultra up close illustrations by Bill Thomson build momentum and by the last few pages it will feel like you are on the edge of your seat screaming for your home team! Very cool book. You will read it then go back and just flip through all the illustrations again and again, they are just that amazing.
Dear Ichiro by Jean Davies Okimoto is a story about reconciliation and how one grand parents experience turning an enemy into a friend can help his great grandson learn how to make up with a best friend after a fight. I like this book because my son is an Ichiro fan even if he’s no longer a Mariner. I like ti because it connects generations, history, and good old advice about how to resolve conflicts. Some parents may not like how mean the little boy seems when angry but I think it’s important to show anger for what it is because kids relate to that!
Mighty Casey by James Preller is a cute and funny story about an awful little league team who rallies and finally wins one game. Every parent who have ever watched a little league game will recognize a few familiar behaviors in this book . The kid who decided to pee during the game, on the field, will get a ton of laughs from your little readers. The heart of this book is that even if the odds are stacked against you , don’t give up until the game is done!
Oliver’s Game (Tavares baseball books)by Matt Tavares is a great book. I will say that while this is a picture book it’s not really for preschoolers, a few might get the messages of disappointment, sadness ,and sacrifice. The story is about a grandfather who shares his big league experience with his grandson. What’s so sad about that? Well in the story the grandfather’s dreams were cut short by World War Two. My 7 year old and I had fantastic discussions after reading this book together and it was easy for him to relate this story to other stories of sacrifice and making the most of what you are given. Love this book!
Let Them Play (True Story) by Margot Theis Raven and Chris Ellison is an amazing book, it tells the true story of the 1955 State Champion Little League team from South Carolina. The story is heartbreaking and heartwarming all at once as the authors tell the readers about the realities and injustice that this team of little boys faced. They were the first all black all star team who were disqualified from playing in the little league world series because they hadn’t played a single game to become state champs, because all the other teams forfeited. I dare you not to cry, I was a sobbing mess by the end. The book itself is too complex for really little guys, my son had no interest in the text, though he loved the pictures. All kids old enough though should take a look, and be prepared to answer some tough questions about why people were so mean. Wonderful wonderful, important book!
Dad, Jackie, and Me by Myron Ulburg is a touching look at father’s and son’s and the complex relationship that develops at the same time as tackling bigger themes like discrimination and baseball. A father and son share a love of baseball and specifically of Jackie Robinson. This book handles these multiple themes very well and will likely create a few lumps in your throat as you read the sometimes achingly honest text. I really liked this book and how it linked different kinds of discrimination, adversity and the way the human spirit can triumph over both.
Dino-Baseball (Carolrhoda Picture Books)by Lisa Wheeler is a fun rhyming book about two dinosaur filled baseball teams playing an action packed game. What I really like about this book is that it goes over many of the things that a child will encounter at a real MLB game. Grab this book if your child is a little nervous about going to such a big game.