Sports Fiction for Tweens
HOME RUN! TOUCHDOWN! GOAL! For many tweens, sport is more than just a way to keep their bodies active or a hobby to have fun with; it’s a serious endeavor, an escape, or even a way of life. Your love for sport can reach beyond the game with fantastic titles from Henrico County Public Library.
Here are some solid books to get the mind just as active in the sports world, including some new and some old:
Here to Stay by Sara Farizan is a 2018 realistic fiction novel that deals with the struggles of being bullied, even as a star athlete. Young Bijan has rode the bench for most of his basketball career, until he’s called onto the court and hits a game-winning shot. Just like that, fellow students greet him with smiles, high-fives, and party invitations, but the spotlight isn’t all good, as a cyberbully sends around an altered picture of Bijan looking like a terrorist. Proud of his Middle Eastern heritage but wanting to avoid this newfound attention, Bijan must deal with the realities of Islamophobia, bullying, and inauthentic people that challenge trust. Available on Hoopla.
Garvey’s Choice by Nikki Grimes is a 2016 young adult title focusing on the opposite of a love for sports. A book in verse, specifically five-line "tanka" poetry, Grimes centers her novel on Garvey, who isn’t the athlete his father wishes him to be. Interested in numerous things other than sports, Garvey feels isolated from connecting with his dad, and being overweight makes him a target for foolish bullying and mistreatment in school. But once he discovers his passion for singing in his school chorus, Garvey feels empowered, and ready to fill himself with pride more than ever. Available on Overdrive.
The Wizenard Series: Training Camp by Wesley King is a 2019 release blending the world of sport and magic together from the mind of the late basketball legend Kobe Bryant. The West Bottom Badgers youth basketball team are literally the bottom team: they are the lowest ranked team in their league. To make the odds stacked against them even more, they live in the town’s poorest neighborhood. No one thinks they can ever be good or competitive, until Professor Wizenard comes around. From their first day in training camp with new coach Wizenard, the team begins to experience weird, sensational, unreal visions and sounds that change their perspective on the world and alter the game of basketball for them forever. Can the Badgers overcome a world of doubt and be a contender? Available on Hoopla.
Up for Air by Laurie Morrison is a 2019 young adult fiction novel that follows young Annabelle. Annabelle isn’t the best student in school, feeling like she constantly struggles to do well, but her confidence skyrockets once she dives into a pool. She’s clearly the best swimmer there is, and after earning a spot with the high school team, people start to treat her that way. This feeling of acceptance changes when swimming is removed from her life after a bad prank gone wrong. A journey about defining one’s self-worth, Morrison captures an endearing story through her first novel. Available on Hoopla.
Ghost by Jason Reynolds is a 2016 National Book Award finalist for Young People’s Literature. Ghost is one of four fantastic sprinters on the middle school track team. Each of these runners has their own reasons for running, but Ghost runs because it’s been his whole life. Since his father threatened him and his mother, Ghost has known running as his one way out, even when he’s the cause of the problem. His new coach, however, sees tremendous potential in him, and thinks that running can propel him into the future, even with the past lingering not far behind. Ghost is one of four novels written by Reynolds, including Lu, Patina, and Sunny. Available on Overdrive as both an ebook or audiobook.
Muckers by Sandra Neil Wallace is a 2013 release historical fiction novel that follows young Felix “Red” O’Sullivan. Set during the early 1950s after the end of the World War II conflict and at the start of the Korean War, Felix’s town and life face unprecedented hardships. The local mine is barren, losing much of its labor to the war, and the town is failing, meaning Felix’s graduating class will be the last ever. Facing difficulties with his parents and the loss of his brother who died in combat, Felix has to lead his rag-tag high school football team to glory and pursue one last chance at winning a championship while fulfilling his brother’s quarterback footsteps. Available on Overdrive.
Nikki on the Line by Barbara Carroll Roberts is a recent 2019 young adult fiction novel centered on Nikki, an aspiring basketball star. She’s ready to join a fantastic eighth grade basketball team but suddenly she’s not the best player, or point guard, on the court. To make matters more difficult, basketball is just one of her concerns, as school, friends, and babysitting demand her time. Between all of this stress, Nikki’s confidence takes a hit, including her doubts about finishing a family tree class assignment that has her asking tremendous questions about her family background along with her future endeavors. Littered with strategy, game description, and fast paced narration, this book is made for basketball fans. Available on Overdrive as an audiobook.
Rooting for Rafael Rosales by Kurtis Scaletta is a 2017 juvenile fiction novel written as a tale of two individual stories. Young Rafael has a dream of becoming a professional baseball player, hitting the field or streets any chance he gets in the Dominican Republic to get noticed by the big leagues. Young Maya is an intelligent environmentalist that sees Rafael play in the minor leagues nine years later, as he’s the only player that signs her sister’s scorecard. From that point, Maya decides to root for Rafael, and their connection grows as each strives to accomplish goals others consider impossible. It’s a strong story of baseball, rooting for the underdog, and believing. Available on Hoopla.
Each one of these titles provides a variety of options for any tween looking to feed their inner sports fan or sports love. Reading any of these is sure to inspire them to play, or even better: to strive to be the best they can and accomplish a goal.