I was a very lucky little girl. I never needed to be told that a girl could play sports because I grew up with an Olympic silver medal in my basement. My grandmother was an Olympian. I didn’t know how lucky I was, and that some girls didn’t know they could participate or even excel in sports. Even today, many girls need that extra nod, and these books will inspire and encourage little girls to see what they can do.
Players In Pigtails by Shana Corey
This book takes the story of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League and personalizes it for young readers. Many adults will instantly connect this story to the movie “A League Of Their Own” but children might not know about this bit of American history or understand just how groundbreaking it was. Many young girls who love sports more than princesses will like the main character and hopefully relate to her unapologetic desire to do what she loves.
Winners Never Quit by Mia Hamm
This picture book has a great message about how important attitude is in sports. I especially love that the book is set when she was a child, not as an already successful adult. This setting makes the book so much more relatable for little girls (and boys) who find themselves in similarly frustrating situations. You will find yourself saying, “Winners never quit” a lot after this book, and hopefully the message is as strong for your kids.
Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World's Fastest Woman by Kathleen Krull
This book made me cry. It’s the true story of Wilma Rudolph, the African-American Olympian who, despite having polio as a child, became the first American woman ever to win three gold medals at one Olympic Games. What did Wilma have in her corner? Not much more than sheer determination. This story is incredibly inspiring and the illustrations by David Diaz bring the amazing facts straight to your heart. Young women still face more obstacles than they should in sports, but if Wilma could do it, surely anyone can give it a go!
Basketball Belles: How Two Teams and One Scrappy Player Put Women’s Hoops On The Map by Sue Macy
This book came into our house at just the right moment. My son and husband were knee-deep in March Madness and I was not. But, I was inspired after reading this book about the first intercollegiate basketball game between two women’s teams. This book is set in 1896 and the stunning illustrations by Matt Collins take the reader back to that time. The text is a mix of history and exciting play-by-play action. The author takes you back into that gymnasium and makes you see not only how amazing that first game was for the women who played in it, but also how important it was to all the women that have played basketball ever since.