Gold Medal Reads | Chapter Book Chat

Just in time for the Olympics, librarian Abby Johnson spotlights several sports series for chapter book readers and suggests accompanying activities, including fun ways to stay active this summer.
The Summer Olympics are in full swing and kids across the world are riveted. If your kids are, too, this is a great time to share some sports books. Sports titles are perennially popular; even kids who don’t think they like to read may pick up a book about their favorite sport or athlete. Sports fans appreciate books that contain play-by-play action and exciting scenes set on the field or court. Beyond the athletics, these books often explore character-building themes such as teamwork, perseverance, and being a good winner or loser. Below, I spotlight a handful of my favorite sports books for the younger middle-grade set. Along with activities and lesson plan ideas, I’ve also included links to resources that will help kids stay active this summer with physical games or activities related to each book. Hand any of the following series to your young sports fans for a home-run read this summer. Ball HogsThe Ball Hogs by Bill Wallace. (Kickers: Bk. 1). Random. 2010. Ben is so excited to play on his first real soccer team, but he’ll have to learn some hard lessons before he’s successful. When self-absorbed Mark is also placed on his team, Ben and Mark will have to learn how to work together. They’re both skilled players, but playing on a team calls for more than individual greatness. This series starter will please kids who enjoy a lot of play-by-play soccer action and who can relate to the experience of learning to play a team sport. Three additional books continue the adventures of the Bobcats.

Activity or lesson plan tie-in:

Random House provides a teacher’s guide for the “Kickers” series that includes activities to teach teamwork, practice writing, and test out the soccer tips provided at the end of each book. Scholastic has a great guide for classroom activities that build teamwork.

Get active:

Coaching American Soccer has a lengthy list of soccer-related games to play with kids to practice skills, drills, or to just have fun.
Eliza BingEliza Bing Is (Not) a Big Fat Quitter by Carmella Van Vleet. Holiday House. 2014. Eliza wants nothing more than to take the summer cake decorating class taught by her idol, Sweet Caroline from TV. But the class is expensive and Eliza’s parents are worried that it’ll be just another thing she quits when she gets bored. Eliza can’t help it; her brain runs fast and she gets bored easily, but she strikes a deal with her parents. When her older brother decides that his taekwondo class is not for him, Eliza enrolls in his place. If she can complete the class without quitting, she’ll have proved to her parents that she can stick with it and they’ll let her take the cake decorating class in the fall. But can Eliza survive taekwondo? Eliza has a strong, funny voice and this is a good choice for kids who have tried many different activities.

Activity or lesson plan tie-in:

Eliza loves to help her best friend Tony create sweet concoctions in his family’s bakery. The Washington State Department of Health provides an extensive curriculum guide called Let’s Cook, which includes lessons on becoming familiar with different foods, reading a recipe, and more.

Get active:

Live Strong provides some ideas for martial arts-based games and activities to keep kids stay active.
Izzy BarrIzzy Barr, Running Star by Claudia Mills (Franklin School Friends). Farrar. 2015. Izzy Barr loves to run and she’s excited to prove what she can do against her rival Skipper at her school’s Field Day and the upcoming Memorial Day race. When Skipper shows up with fancy new shoes, Izzy thinks her own new shoes will be the secret to her success, but what she really needs is for her dad to show up and cheer her on. This is a heartfelt story that will appeal to kids who like realistic, contemporary books. Izzy is facing a lot of the same issues that many kids face: dealing with family and staying true to oneself while facing down a rival at school.

Activity or lesson plan tie-in:

Izzy has to research a famous person and she chooses the athlete Wilma Rudolph. Have kids research their own sports hero: Wilma Rudolph, Jackie Joyner-Kersey, and Jesse Owens are some great examples. The New York Road Runners provide classroom activity guides and lesson plans based on running for a variety of ages. These are perfect to interest young runners in the concepts you already need to teach them.

Get active:

Check out the extensive list of relay races for kids at PBS Kids ZOOM games.
MaximilianMaximilian and the Mystery of the Guardian Angel: A Lucha Libre Thriller by Xavier Garcia. Cinco Puntos. 2011. Maximilian is obsessed with lucha libre wrestling, a popular sport in his South Texas border town and across the border in Mexico. He is particularly obsessed with his hero, the greatest luchador of all time, The Guardian Angel. Rumors abound about who this masked hero is; is it possible he could be related to Maximilian? The costumes, the drama, the mystery surrounding The Guardian Angel's true identity... this is shaping up to be one thrilling summer! This is an excellent story for young luchador and wrestling fans. Even though it looks like a long book, because this story is bilingual with alternating pages in English and Spanish, it’s really only half as long as it looks.

Activity or lesson plan tie-in:

If you’re not familiar with lucha libre, there is a good introductory lesson plan at Spanish Playground. It includes additional titles to share, links to printables, and photos to share with your students. Also check out Lucha Libre USA’s Kids Zone for coloring pages and additional materials. A big part of lucha libre (and professional wrestling in general) is the characters. Fans identify with and root for their favorite characters. Have kids design their own lucha libre character: come up with a name, a specialty or powers, and design the mask and costume for their character.

Get active:

Kid Wrestling Coach provides a long list of drills and activities for practicing wrestling skills. These aren’t specific to professional wrestling or lucha libre, but will still keep kids moving. What Olympic sports are your kids watching with interest? Are there specific sports chapter book series that fly off the shelves? Share them in the comments below.

No Comments to this Article. Be the first user to comment.

RELATED 

TOP STORIES

LIBRARY EDUCATION

Kids are using VR to explore worlds and create new ones

COMMUNITY FORM

Kids are using VR to explore worlds and create new ones

COLLECTION DEVELOPMENT

Kids are using VR to explore worlds and create new ones

Get connected. Join our global community of more than 200,000 librarians and educators.