November 21, 2017

The Advocate's Toolbox

Make A Splash: Wellness, Fitness, and Sports | Focus On

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Thinkstock/iStock

Experts in psychology tell us that satisfying four human needs—physical, emotional/social, mental/intellectual, and spiritual—is key to attaining a productive, vibrant, and healthy life. It is essential to nurture these needs in children and teens, helping to lay a foundation for strong adulthoods. This summer Olympic year is a perfect time to reflect on this concept as we cheer on the role models who will be running, jumping, and otherwise participating in physical sport during the internationally renowned games. Although physical prowess is the main focus of the Olympics, the well-balanced path that high-caliber, successful athletes must traverse often exemplifies the importance of attending to all four needs. That’s why the Collaborative Summer Library Program’s overarching theme for 2016, “Wellness, Fitness and Sports,” is an especially appropriate one.

Nationwide, school and public library staff are immersed in planning and preparing special programs, activities, and events connecting to this 2016 summer theme. Likewise, we can offer timely, interesting, and relevant books that inspire youth of all ages to consider the value of wellness and physical activity in their lives as well as websites, databases, and apps that make health and fitness enticing, effective, and entertaining. Including various aspects of sports plays a huge role in this, of course, but since the aim is to address overall well-being and to incorporate STEM, STEAM—and yes, even STREAM—elements into our summer library offerings, we can expand and enhance the theme to include exercise, nutrition, cooking, teamwork, sportsmanship, and so much more.

Elementary Fiction

BILDNER, Phil. The Soccer Fence: A Story of Friendship, Hope, and Apartheid in South Africa. illus. by Jesse Joshua Watson. Putnam. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780399247903.
Gr 1-3–Hector’s soccer dreams take him to the other side of the fence where white children play the game. As time passes and apartheid crumbles, Hector witnesses the beloved team, Bafana Bafana, win the African Cup of Nations and the formation of the barrier-breaking South African Football Association. Vibrant, realistic illustrations meshed with shadowy historical images deepen the story.

KAPLAN, Michael B. Betty Bunny Wants a Goal. illus. by Stéphane Jorisch. Dial. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780803738591.
PreS-Gr 2–Betty Bunny aspires to score 10 goals in her first game. When she does poorly, declaring that soccer is “yucky,” her family rallies behind her to keep trying and practicing. She does, which leads to improvement and the achievement of her goal. Spunky illustrations heighten Betty’s trials and her ultimate success.

MILLS, Claudia. Izzy Barr, Running Star. illus. by Rob Shepperson. (Franklin School Friends). Farrar. 2015. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9780374335786; pap. $5.99. ISBN 9781250069573.
Gr 1-4–Third-grade sports whiz Izzy Barr excels at both softball and running and wonders why her father doesn’t seem to appreciate her athletic talent as much as her brother’s. When she competes in the citywide 10K, she wishes he were there to cheer her on along with her loyal friends.

PINKNEY, Brian. On the Ball. illus. by author. Disney/Hyperion. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781484723296.
PreS-Gr 2–Soccer player Owen is sadly not very good at the sport, but when the ball escapes and he chases it down—through hill and dale, water and air—he discovers the joy of movement and returns with the ball and a new attitude about playing for the fun of it. Dynamic images of Owen in action add pizzazz.

WHEELER, Lisa. Dino-Swimming. illus. by Barry Gott. Carolrhoda. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781467702140.
K-Gr 2–In this latest addition to the dino-sports series, it’s a swim meet between the plant-eaters and the meat-eaters as the dinosaur teams compete against each other, concluding with high fives and handshakes. Boldly colorful cartoon drawings combine with a chipper rhyming text to demonstrate that no matter who wins, it’s important to be a good sport.

Elementary Nonfiction

MCCULLY, Emily Arnold. Queen of the Diamond: The Lizzie Murphy Story. illus. by author. Farrar. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780374300074.
K-Gr 3–Lizzie Murphy, born in 1894, when baseball was “not for girls,” was a natural athlete who proved the stereotype wrong by being on two amateur baseball teams by age 15, playing professional baseball from 1918–1935, and landing on both major league all-star teams. Engaging, historically accurate illustrations chronicle her life from youth to adulthood.

SIMONS, Lisa M. Bolt. The First Olympics of Ancient Greece. (Ancient Greece). Capstone. 2014. lib ed. $24.65. ISBN 9781491402733.
Gr 2-5–Youngsters will find a basic introduction to the history of the Olympic Games in this overview describing the original events, the reasons they were held, and the ceremonies that honored the victors, making a connection to today’s international competition. Sidebars highlighting facts and pertinent vocabulary, appealing illustrations, and photos complement the text.

Middle Grade Fiction

ABDUL-JABBAR, Kareem & Raymond Obstfeld. Stealing the Game. (Streetball Crew). Disney/Hyperion. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781423178712.
Gr 5-8–When Chris’s older brother Jax asks him to enlist his basketball buddies for a pickup game in the park, the opposing players prove too tough to beat. Chris discovers not only his brother’s setup to win gambling money but a twist about Jax that he never expected. For more basketball action, see the series opener, Sasquatch in the Paint (2013).

BILDNER, Phil. A Whole New Ballgame. illus. by Tim Probert. Farrar. 2015. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9780374301309; pap. $6.99. ISBN 9781250079763.
Gr 4-6–Fifth graders Rip and his best friend Red, who has high spectrum autism, deal with an unusual new teacher plus an unconventional basketball coach and in the process learn a great deal about teamwork and friendship and about meeting challenges in school. Upbeat drawings add a positive dimension. Readers will also enjoy the outstanding sequel, Rookie of the Year (2016).

JAMIESON, Victoria. Roller Girl. Dial. 2015. Tr $20.99. ISBN 9780525429678; pap. $12.99. ISBN 9780803740167.
Gr 5-8–When Astrid, about to begin junior high, heads to summer roller derby camp while best friend Nicole opts for ballet camp, their relationship is jeopardized by opposing interests. This fast-paced, engrossing graphic novel featuring a lesser-known sport captures the first pangs of adolescent angst, friendship, and loyalty.

LUPICA, Mike. Fast Break. Philomel. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780399256066; pap. $8.99. ISBN 9781101997833.
Gr 5 Up–Basketball whiz Jayson, who is white, poverty-stricken, and angry, is placed with a loving, patient, affluent African American couple after his mother dies. Jayson learns to accept his new life as his team approaches the North Carolina middle school championship, an experience that instills valuable lessons about camaraderie, cooperation, and self-confidence. Audio version available from Recorded Books.

MORGAN, Alex. Hat Trick. (The Kicks). S. & S. 2015. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9781481450966; pap. $6.99. ISBN 9781481450973.
Gr 3-7–In this addition to the series by an Olympic gold medalist, the seventh-grade Kicks teammates attempt to make the cut for a more competitive and challenging winter soccer league, problem-solve to save a soccer program for younger kids that’s on the line due to budget cuts, and learn what it takes to collaborate and keep friendships intact.

ROBINSON, Sharon. The Hero Two Doors Down. Scholastic. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780545804516.
Gr 4-7–In 1948, when eight-year-old Steve learns that his African American baseball hero Jackie Robinson, who broke the color barrier in the sport the previous year, will be the new next-door neighbor in his all-Jewish Brooklyn neighborhood, he gains knowledge about respect, friendship, and unity.

Middle Grade Nonfiction

BROWN, Daniel James . The Boys in the Boat: The True Story of an American Team’s Epic Journey to Win Gold at the 1936 Olympics. adapted by Gregory Mone. Viking. 2015. Tr $ 17.99. ISBN 9780451475923.
Gr 5-9–Adapted from the best-selling adult title, this true story of nine working-class young men who earned a place on the 1936 American rowing team and edged out Hitler’s German team for Olympic gold displays skill, determination, and teamwork that will inspire young adolescent readers. Audio version available from Listening Library.

KID CHEF ELIANA, with Dianne de Las Casas. Cool Kids Cook: Fresh & Fit. illus. by Soleil Lisette. Pelican. 2014. Tr $14.95. ISBN 9781455618927.
Gr 4-7–What better way for children to learn about healthy, balanced nutrition than through a kid-friendly cookbook by a famous young chef featuring such delectable dishes as quinoa-stuffed peppers, pasta Bolognese, coconut shrimp, and Berrylicious Parfait? Each recipe includes “fit tips” icons to help get readers moving.

RIVERA, Mariano & Wayne Coffey. The Closer: Young Readers Edition. adapted by Sue Corbett. Little, Brown. 2014. Tr $17. ISBN 9780316404808; pap. $7. ISBN 9780316284134.
Gr 5-8–In this autobiography, Rivera describes how he went from a poor boy in a humble fishing village in Panama to one of the greatest New York Yankee baseball heroes through talent, faith, perseverance, and sportsmanship, with exciting play-by-play details that will particularly appeal to baseball aficionados.

High School Fiction

CARTER, Caela. Tumbling. Viking. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780451473004.
Gr 7 Up–In this up close and personal drama about the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Trials—told from the interconnected perspectives of Grace, the perfectionist; Camille, the people-pleaser; Leigh, who is secretly gay; and others—the competition is fierce. Friendships are tried, sportsmanship is challenged, and secrets are revealed as competitors win, lose, and make important decisions about their futures. Audio version available from Listening Library.

DOMINY, Amy Fellner. A Matter of Heart. Delacorte. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780385744430; pap. $9.99. ISBN 9780385744447.
Gr 7 Up–Sixteen-year-old swimming champ Abby, a possible Olympic trials contender, faints and is diagnosed with a life-threatening heart condition. She must choose between taking medication that will slow her finish times and gambling with her life to fulfill her dreams—choices that lead to an ultimately smart and satisfying finale.

KLASS, David. Losers Take All. Farrar. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780374301361.
Gr 7 Up–Dark humor is the medium for this tale of a high school where athletics is so much king that everyone is required to participate in a sport. When the underdogs form a soccer team that challenges traditional viewpoints about sportsmanship, people begin to question, “Is winning everything?”

SELES, Monica. Love Match. (The Academy). Bloomsbury. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781619631595; pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781599909028.
Gr 7 Up–In this second episode of the series, likable 16-year-old Maya, a student at a private boarding school for promising athletes, finds herself aiming to succeed at women’s professional tennis while navigating celebrity, friendships, romance, and modeling options. A unique perspective of the sports world populated with realistic characters.

SULLIVAN, Derek E. Biggie. Albert Whitman. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780807507278; pap. $9.99. ISBN 9780807507308.
Gr 9 Up–Biggie, the intelligent but insecure son of local baseball legends, eats his way to obesity. After displaying unexpected skill as a pitcher, the 300-plus-pound teen trains to lose weight, join the high school baseball team, and, perhaps, win the heart of his crush, reaching self-confidence in the process.

High School Nonfiction

HOLCOMBE, Whitney. 1 Year, 100 Pounds: My Journey to a Better, Happier Life. Simon Pulse. 2014.
Gr 8 Up–Written by a young woman who lost 100 pounds as a teenager on her own without surgery, this enthusiastic and on-target self-help guide will inspire young adults to follow her footsteps to attain a healthy weight, eat well, make exercise a priority, and achieve confidence.

MORGAN, Alex. Breakaway: Beyond the Goal. S. & S. 2015.
Gr 7 Up–This memoir from popular Olympic gold medalist and soccer champion Alex Morgan highlights her inspiring life in sports, with plenty of gaming action to keep teen sports fans engaged, including the details of her team’s World Cup competition, where she learned to accept loss graciously.

RISSMAN, Rebecca. Yoga for Your Mind and Body: A Teenage Practice for a Healthy, Balanced Life. Switch. 2015.
Gr 7 Up–For teens who want to realize health, tranquility, and fitness in their lives through yoga, this beautiful and easy-to-follow guide offers helpful advice with numerous, full-color photographs of poses and practices, even for beginners.

Diane P. Tuccillo is teen services librarian for the Poudre River Public Library District in Fort Collins, CO, and author of Teen-Centered Library Service (Libraries Unlimited, 2010).

Digital Picks

WEBSITES

KidsHealth: How the Body Works. The Nemours Foundation. (Accessed 1/24/16).
Gr 1-7–Outstanding, easy-to-navigate advice and information on health, fitness, sports, and nutrition is provided by Nemours, a nonprofit organization committed to improving the lives of young people. The site also offers links to valuable resources for parents and teachers.

Presidential Youth Fitness Program. President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition. (Accessed 1/24/16).
K Up–Replacing the President’s Challenge Youth Fitness Test, this free program for schools engages teachers, students, and parents in fitness assessments and activities that encourage a dynamic lifestyle and healthy eating habits into adulthood. Provides support materials, rationales, and achievement awards for grades K-12. See also Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative at www.letsmove.gov.

Teen Health & Wellness. Rosen Digital. 2015. Database. Annual subscriptions based on population served and cardholder numbers for public libraries and FTE numbers for schools. One year and multi-year pricing is available. (Accessed 1/24/16).
Gr 6 Up–Regularly updated, this database informs tweens and teens about all aspects of adolescent health and wellness while offering opportunities for asking questions, receiving expert responses, and sharing personal stories. Includes a mobile app, language translations, and viewing and listening options as well as resources for teachers and librarians.

TeensHealth. The Nemours Foundation. (Accessed 1/24/16).
Gr 6 Up–Handy, professional advice and information about overall mind and body health for adolescents includes a specific focus on sports, fitness, safety, injuries, diet, and nutrition. Teens can read or listen to content and sign up for weekly newsletters. Support material for teachers can be found at classroom.kidshealth.org.

APPS

Kurbo Health Coaching and Tracking for Kids and Teens. Kurbo Health, Inc. 2015. Version 1.5.4. iOS, requires 7.0 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. Android, Version 1.5.3. requires 4.0 and up. Free. kurbo.com (Accessed 1/24/16).
Gr 2 Up–This app encourages youth to track nutrition with the sensible, color-coded Traffic Light Diet system developed at Stanford University, measure exercise timing and results, and set personal diet and fitness goals with the support of reminders and kid-friendly health education games and videos.

This article was published in School Library Journal's March 2016 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

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Comments

  1. Hello,
    I want to share my experience of an app that have helped me a lot to achieve my healthy objectives. It´s called Beyouapp (http://beyouapp.com/web/) and there you can find a lot of diets, exercise programs and coach tips that encourage you to make the great change in your body.
    Regards

  2. That’s a smart answer to a tricky question