Fun and Games: Capitalize on Olympic Excitement with These Titles

From biographies of Olympians to fictional mysteries and romance, get young readers excited for the Tokyo Games competition and drama with these titles.

With the Summer Olympics scheduled to begin July 23 in Tokyo, Games-obsessed young readersand anyone looking for a little escape or inspirationwill find something in these titles.



She Persisted in Sports: American Olympians Who Changed the Game by Chelsea Clinton, illus. by ­Alexandra Boiger.
PreS-Gr 3 –This entry in the picture book series spotlights a diverse group of 16 women who became Olympic stars in 13 different sports. Featured athletes include golfer Margaret Ives Abbott, track and field star Wilma Rudolph, wheelchair racer Jean Driscoll, ­soccer player Mia Hamm, tennis players ­Venus and Serena ­Williams, and ­volleyball teammates Misty ­May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings.

Sakamoto’s Swim Club: How a Teacher Led an Unlikely Team to Victory by Julie Abery, illus. by Chris Sasaki.
K-Gr 3 –This short, brightly illustrated picture book tells the story of ­Hawaiian swim coach Soichi Sakamoto and his swim club’s journey to the 1948 ­London Olympics. An author’s note ­follows the story, featuring a group photo and more detailed information.

Simone Biles: Making the Case for the Greatest of All Time by Susan Blackaby.
Gr 4-7 –This biography argues that ­Simone Biles is the GOAT. Blackaby explores Biles’s rigorous mental preparation, the hours she spends practicing, and her steady rise to stardom.

Proud: Living My American Dream by Ibtihaj Muhammad.
Gr 6 Up –Fencer and Olympic medalist Muhammad’s account of her childhood through her win at the 2016 Games in Rio. An epilogue discusses her role in creating the nonprofit Athletes for ­Impact and underlines the importance of defining one’s identity for oneself and embracing one’s dreams.

Black Power Salute: How a Photograph Captured a Political Protest by Danielle Smith-Llera.
Gr 5-8 –The photograph of Tommie Smith and John Carlos raising their fists in the Black Power salute at their 1968 Olympic medal ceremony is one of the most powerful from any ­Olympic Games. With quotations from the ­athletes and well-reproduced ­photographs, the book details how this brief moment on film showed the frustration of athletes ­subjected to racial injustice.



The Mystery of the Masked Medalist by Maia Shibutani, Alex Shibutani, & Michelle Schusterman, illus. by Yaoyao Ma Van As.
Gr 3-6 –In this topical mystery about hacking and virtual reality, siblings Andy and Mika Kudo are thrilled to travel to Tokyo for the Olympics with their journalist parents. Their ­excitement is heightened by OlympiFan, an augmented reality game that encourages teamwork and fair play. But not all of the players are interested in playing fair.

Every Reason We Shouldn’t by Sara Fujimura.
Gr 7 Up –Sixteen-year-old biracial Asian American figure skater Olivia ­Kennedy hasn’t felt like herself since her disastrous performance at Skate Detroit. Attending a real high school for the first time, helping out at her family’s failing skating rink, and living up to the expectations of her gold medal Olympian parents have her wondering who she is and where she belongs.

Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean.
Gr 8 Up –Izumi, a Japanese American high school senior, has a pretty average life. Or so it seems. Her father’s identity has always been a mystery, but after Izumi accidentally learns his name, everything starts spiraling...until Izumi is in Japan with the knowledge that her father is the Crown Prince.

“Dive!!” by Eto Mori, illus. by Ruzuru Akashiba.
Gr 8 Up –Tomoki loves high diving, but his team’s performance is underwhelming, and their diving club may close. The only way to save it is for one of the divers to make it into the Tokyo Olympics, and Tomoki is eager to be the one, although his teammate Youichi is both more talented and the son of an Olympic diver himself. 

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