Great Sports Books for Teens and Tweens

Books about sports and athleticism for teens and tweens are an excellent vehicle for parent-child chats about friendship, teamwork, winning and losing, fairness, and other aspects of sportsmanship. They also appeal to sports fans who otherwise aren't into reading. Consider these top titles for your middle- or high-schooler.

The Crossover

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

This novel-in-verse by Kwame Alexander won the prestigious Newbery Medal in 2015. It's the story of twin brothers who are stars of their middle school basketball team, but face struggles on and off the court. Their dad, a former pro player, teaches them ten rules for basketball, which also work as life lessons. Ages 10-14.

Also by Alexander: Rebound (a prequel to The Crossover; with Mary Rand Hess); Booked (starring a soccer player; with Mary Rand Hess); and a book of advice and inspiration called The Playbook: 52 Rules to Aim, Shoot, and Score in This Game Called Life (with Thai Neave). Also, the children's book Acoustic Rooster and His Barnyard Band (with Tim Bowers), Becoming Muhammad Ali (with James Patterson and Dawud Anyabwile), and He Said, She Said.

A Matter of Heart

A Matter of Heart

This young adult novel by Amy Fellner Dominy tells the story of 16-year-old Abby, a talented and super-competitive swimmer. When Abby is diagnosed with a heart condition, she faces a changed future that can't include chasing her dreams of Olympic glory. The question is, how much disappointment can her heart take? Ages 12 and up.

For another tale of an athletic girl facing a life-changing health crisis, try The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen.

Tangerine

Tangerine

This award-winning novel by Edward Bloor centers on 12-year-old Paul, a legally blind "geek" who finds a way to shine as a soccer player. The book takes on big, sometimes dark themes head-on, making it a compelling read. Ages 9 to 13.

For another look at soccer, this time from a kid who finds a different sport that suits him better, try Out of Reach by V.M. Jones.

Biggie

Biggie

Henry "Biggie" Abbott has always been very smart, very overweight, and very much an outcast. Pitching a perfect game of Whiffle ball changes that, and Biggie has to decide if he wants to try to follow in the footsteps of his father and stepfather—both baseball legends. This is the first novel by author Derek E. Sullivan. Ages 13 and up.

Game

Game

In this book by the late, acclaimed author Walter Dean Myers, a high school senior named Drew is counting on his basketball skills to get him into college. When a rival teammate begins to pose a threat, Drew has to reconsider everything he knows about himself and his game. Ages 13 and up.

More sports stories from Walter Dean Myers include All the Right Stuff, Kick, Slam, Hoops, and The Outside Shot.

Last Shot

Last Shot

Sportswriter John Feinstein (A Good Walk Spoiled) authored this book about two aspiring journalists who win press passes to the Final Four basketball tournament. Once there, they discover some serious behind-the-scenes intrigue. Ages 10 and up.

This is the first in the Sports Beat series, featuring mysteries at the U.S. Open (Vanishing Act), the Super Bowl (Cover-Up), the World Series (Change-Up), and more.

Dairy Queen

Dairy Queen

This is the first in a three-book series about D.J., a teenage girl who lives on a Wisconsin dairy farm. As if going to school, working the farm, and dealing with family issues weren't enough, D.J. also decides to try out for the high school football team. Ages 12 and up.

Fans of the Dairy Queen series may also enjoy Boost by Kathy Mackel. It's the story of two sisters, one a basketball player and one a cheerleader.

Rivals

Rivals

Making it to a national baseball tournament becomes way more complicated than Josh bargained for in this sequel to Baseball Great (both by Tim Green; book three is Best of the Best and book four is Home Run). It's an exciting tale full of twists and turns, and a genuine love of the game. Ages 10-13.

Ironman

Ironman

In this novel by Chris Crutcher, Bo is a would-be triathlete whose temper often gets him in serious trouble. Facing expulsion from school, he is forced into anger management classes. There he meets the mentor who will help him face his feelings and channel them into athletic and personal success. Ages 14 and up (contains some strong language).

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