Sports History for Teens and Tweens

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Sports History for Teens and Tweens

Batter up!

Did you know that women and girls couldn’t always play sports like men and boys could? That African-Americans weren’t allowed to play major league baseball? That sports equipment used to be a lot less safe than it is now? Check out the following books about sports history for teens and tweens - and while you’re having fun, you might learn a thing or two!

Faster, Higher, Smarter: Bright Ideas That Transformed Sports by Simon Shapiro
While this book does cover a lot of inventions and, yes, the "bright ideas" that make professional sports what they are today, there’s a lot of history involved in this book, too. Tweens will appreciate learning about diversity in sports - not just breaking color and gender barriers (we’ll get to those below) - but learning about how athletes with disabilities are now able to participate in mainstream sports, as well.

Let Me Play: The Story of Title IX: The Law That Changed the Future of Girls in America by Karen Blumenthal
1972 was a benchmark year in allowing girls and women the freedom to participate in sports like boys and men did. Both tweens and teens will see through clear writing and visual aids - charts, cartoons, and photos - just how hard the road was to ensure equality for women in all that they did and how easily those rights could slip away. After 1972, girls finally had locker rooms and spaces in law school and the chance to play ball and be admitted to universities. (Hard to believe, right?)

Martina and Chrissie: The Greatest Rivalry in the History of Sports by Phil Bildner
Tennis players Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova ruled the tennis courts throughout their careers - their competitiveness against each other was well known. Throughout their years of playing against each other, something else grew besides their rivalry. Tweens will enjoy reading Bildner's dynamic prose, and the bonus illustrations, adding to the charm of the story, are by Brett Helquist; you may recognize his style from his work on A Series of Unfortunate Events.

Pinstripe Pride: The Inside Story of the New York Yankees by Martin Appel
The Yankees are, arguably, the most popular team in baseball. They’ve been around for a looooong time, some of the most famous players in the sport have worn their uniform and the team has taken home over 25 world championships. This tween-centric adaptation of Pinstripe Empire gives the stats and stories for anyone interested in the history of a sports team - particularly one as famous as the "Bronx Bombers."

Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team by Steve Sheinkin
1907. Carlisle Indian Industrial School. You’ve heard of it, right? No? A school for young Native Americans - in a time when the U.S. government was less than kind to indigenous people - puts together a football team. Perhaps you can guess the rest: a coach works them hard to be the best, a young man named Jim Thorpe rises to the top, and success follows. Teens who love a good comeback story - and the story of a future Olympic hero - will gobble this one right up.

We Are The Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball by Kadir Nelson
You might know Kadir Nelson for his picture books, but this history of Negro League baseball is really his non-fiction masterpiece (which he also gorgeously illustrated). Tweens and teens - and anyone interested in the underdog Negro Leagues - can appreciate the story the narrator tells, and think of the dozens of players who could have made it big in the major leagues, had they been allowed to play.