book lists

Sports.

Middle-Grade.


A. J. Sass, Ana on the Edge (2020).

For fans of George and Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World, a heartfelt coming of age story about a nonbinary character navigating a binary world.

Twelve-year-old Ana-Marie Jin, the reigning US Juvenile figure skating champion, is not a frilly dress kind of kid. So, when Ana learns that next season’s program will be princess themed, doubt forms fast. Still, Ana tries to focus on training and putting together a stellar routine worthy of national success.

Once Ana meets Hayden, a transgender boy new to the rink, thoughts about the princess program and gender identity begin to take center stage. And when Hayden mistakes Ana for a boy, Ana doesn’t correct him and finds comfort in this boyish identity when he’s around. As their friendship develops, Ana realizes that it’s tricky juggling two different identities on one slippery sheet of ice. And with a major competition approaching, Ana must decide whether telling everyone the truth is worth risking years of hard work and sacrifice.”

Jason Reynolds, Ghost (2016).

“Running. That’s all that Ghost (real name Castle Cranshaw) has ever known. But never for a track team. Nope, his game has always been ball. But when Ghost impulsively challenges an elite sprinter to a race — and wins — the Olympic medalist track coach sees he has something: crazy natural talent. Thing is, Ghost has something else: a lot of anger, and a past that he is trying to outrun. Can Ghost harness his raw talent for speed and meld with the team, or will his past finally catch up to him?”


Mike Lupica, The Batboy (2009).

“It is every baseball kid’s dream summer job: batboy for your hometown Major League team. Yet for fourteen year-old Brian, the job means more than just the chance to hang around his idols. Baseball was the job his father loved so much, in the end he couldn’t leave it. Yet he could leave his family. Now Brian sees the job as the way to win back his father. There is no winning back some people, though. Just ask Hank Bishop—once the most popular player in baseball before he was banned for using steroids. Now he is making his comeback. And an unlikely friendship slowly develops between this man in need of a family and this boy in need of a father.”

Cynthia Kadohata, Checked (2018).

“Hockey is Conor’s life. His whole life. He’ll say it himself, he’s a hockey beast. It’s his dad’s whole life too—and Conor is sure that’s why his stepmom, Jenny, left. There are very few things Conor and his dad love more than the game, and one of those things is their Doberman, Sinbad. When Sinbad is diagnosed with cancer, Conor chooses to put his hockey lessons and practices on hold so they can pay for Sinbad’s chemotherapy.

But without hockey to distract him, Conor begins to notice more. Like his dad’s crying bouts, and his friend’s difficult family life. And then Conor notices one more thing: without hockey, the one thing that makes him feel special, is he really special at all?”

Victoria Jamieson, Roller Girl (2015).

For fans of Raina Telgemeier’s Smile, a heartwarming graphic novel about friendship and surviving junior high through the power of roller derby.

Twelve-year-old Astrid has always done everything with her best friend Nicole. So when Astrid signs up for roller derby camp, she assumes Nicole will too. But Nicole signs up for dance camp with a new friend instead, and so begins the toughest summer of Astrid’s life. There are bumps and bruises as Astrid learns who she is without Nicole…and what it takes to be a strong, tough roller girl. ”


Jenny Manzer, My Life as a Diamond (2018).

“Ten-year-old Caspar “Caz” Cadman loves baseball and has a great arm. He loves the sounds, the smells, the stats. When his family moves from Toronto to a suburb of Seattle, the first thing he does is try out for the local summer team, the Redburn Ravens. Even though Caz is thrilled when he makes the team, he worries because he has a big secret.

No one knows that back in Toronto, Caz used to live life as a girl named Cassandra. And it’s nobody’s business. Caz will tell his new friends when he’s ready.

But when a player on a rival team starts snooping around, Caz’s past is revealed, and Caz worries it will be Toronto all over again.

Will Caz’s teammates rally behind their star pitcher? Or will Caz be betrayed once more?

A heartwarming, funny, fast-paced story about the bravery it takes to live as your true self, no matter the cost.”

Nic Stone, FAST PITCH (2021).

From Nic Stone, the New York Times bestselling author of Clean Getaway, comes a challenging and heartwarming coming-of-age story about a softball player looking to prove herself on and off the pitch.

Shenice Lockwood has her eyes set on the Fastpitch World Series. As team captain, she’d like nothing more than to help her girls take home the trophy and the $10,000 prize money. And as one of the few brown faces on the field, it’d be a personal triumph to show-up her rich, white opponents.

But Shenice’s focus gets shaken when her Uncle Jack reveals that a family crime may have been a set-up all along. Shenice will stop at nothing to uncover the past. The closer she gets to the truth, though, the further she gets from her goals for the future.

From the New York Times bestselling author of Clean Getaway, Nic Stone seamlessly pairs the history of the Negro Leagues with the story of a contemporary, Black tween determined to blaze a trail of her own.”

Young Adult.

Beth ChoatSoccerland (2010).

“One day I’m going to play for the U.S. Women’s National Team.”

That’s what Flora Dupre promised her mom before she died of cancer. Flora and her mom had created a place called Soccerland, an escape world in which they’d ignore the beeping cancer machines and just talk soccer. And now Flora’s dream of playing for the U.S.A. just might be coming true. Flora’s received the invitation of a lifetime: the chance to try out for the Under-15 U.S. Girls’ Soccer Team at the International Sports Academy.

But at the academy, the level of talent is like nothing Flora’s ever seen before. She struggles to hold her own as she grapples with new positions, injuries, the world’s most frustrating coach, and contempt from other players who would love to see her fail. But Flora is a big, strong Dupre girl — and she’s not going to go down easy.”

Jennifer IacopelliBreak the Fall (2020).

“Audrey Lee is going to the Olympics.

A year ago, she could barely do a push up as she recovered from a spine surgery, one that could have paralyzed her. And now? She’s made the United States’ gymnastics team with her best friend, Emma, just like they both dreamed about since they were kids. She’s on top of the world.

The pressure for perfection is higher than ever when horrifying news rips the team apart. Audrey is desperate to advocate for her teammate who has been hurt by the one person they trusted most–but not all the gymnasts are as supportive.

With the team on the verge of collapse, the one bright spot in training is Leo, her new coach’s ridiculously cute son. And while Audrey probably (okay, definitely) shouldn’t date him until after the games, would it really be the end of the world?

Balancing the tenuous relationship between her teammates with unparalleled expectations, Audrey doesn’t need any more distractions. No matter what it takes, she’s not going to let anyone bring them down. But with painful revelations, incredible odds, and the very real possibility of falling at every turn, will Audrey’s determination be enough?”

Trigger warning: sexual assault.

Julie CrossWhatever Life Throws At You (2014).

Life loves a good curveball…

Seventeen-year-old Annie Lucas’s life is completely upended the moment her dad returns to the major leagues as the new pitching coach for the Kansas City Royals. Now she’s living in Missouri (too cold), attending an all-girls school (no boys), and navigating the strange world of professional sports. But Annie has dreams of her own—most of which involve placing first at every track meet…and one starring the Royals’ super-hot rookie pitcher.

But nineteen-year-old Jason Brody is completely, utterly, and totally off-limits. Besides, her dad would kill them both several times over. Not to mention Brody has something of a past, and his fan club is filled with C-cupped models, not smart-mouthed high school “brats” who can run the pants off every player on the team. Annie has enough on her plate without taking their friendship to the next level. The last thing she should be doing is falling in love.

But baseball isn’t just a game. It’s life. And sometimes, it can break your heart…”

Kasie WestMoment of Truth (2020).

“At sixteen, Hadley Moore knows exactly who she is—a swimmer who will earn a scholarship to college. Totally worth all the hard work, even if her aching shoulders don’t agree. So when a guy dressed as Hollywood’s latest action hero, Heath Hall, crashes her swim meet, she isn’t amused. Instead, she’s determined to make sure he doesn’t bother her again. Only she’s not sure exactly who he is.

The swim meet isn’t the first event the imposter has interrupted, but a little digging turns up a surprising number of people who could be Heath Hall, including Hadley’s ex-boyfriend and her best friend’s crush. She soon finds herself getting caught up in the mysterious world of the fake Heath Hall.

As Hadley gets closer to uncovering the masked boy’s identity she also discovers some uncomfortable truths about herself—like she might resent the long shadow her late brother has cast over her family, that she isn’t as happy as she pretends to be with her life choices… and that she is falling for the last guy she ever thought she would like.”

Yamile Saied MéndezFuria (2020).

An #ownvoices contemporary YA set in Argentina, about a rising soccer star who must put everything on the line—even her blooming love story—to follow her dreams.

In Rosario, Argentina, Camila Hassan lives a double life.

At home, she is a careful daughter, living within her mother’s narrow expectations, in her rising-soccer-star brother’s shadow, and under the abusive rule of her short-tempered father.

On the field, she is La Furia, a powerhouse of skill and talent. When her team qualifies for the South American tournament, Camila gets the chance to see just how far those talents can take her. In her wildest dreams, she’d get an athletic scholarship to a North American university.

But the path ahead isn’t easy. Her parents don’t know about her passion. They wouldn’t allow a girl to play fútbol—and she needs their permission to go any farther. And the boy she once loved is back in town. Since he left, Diego has become an international star, playing in Italy for the renowned team Juventus. Camila doesn’t have time to be distracted by her feelings for him. Things aren’t the same as when he left: she has her own passions and ambitions now, and La Furia cannot be denied. As her life becomes more complicated, Camila is forced to face her secrets and make her way in a world with no place for the dreams and ambition of a girl like her.”

Sarah HenningThrow Like a Girl (2020).

“When softball star Liv Rodinsky throws one ill-advised punch during the most important game of the year, she loses her scholarship to her fancy private school, her boyfriend, and her teammates all in one fell swoop. With no other options, Liv is forced to transfer to the nearest public school, Northland, where she’ll have to convince their coach she deserves a spot on the softball team, all while facing both her ex and the teammates of the girl she punched… Every. Single. Day.

Enter Grey, the injured star quarterback with amazing hair and a foolproof plan: if Liv joins the football team as his temporary replacement, he’ll make sure she gets a spot on the softball team in the Spring. But it will take more than the perfect spiral for Liv to find acceptance in Northland’s halls, and behind that charming smile, Grey may not be so perfect after all.”

Catherine Gilbert MurdockDairy Queen (2006).

Dairy Queen #1.

“When you don’t talk, there’s a lot of stuff that ends up not getting said.
Harsh words indeed, from Brian Nelson of all people. But, D. J. can’t help admitting, maybe he’s right.

When you don’t talk, there’s a lot of stuff that ends up not getting said.

Stuff like why her best friend, Amber, isn’t so friendly anymore. Or why her little brother, Curtis, never opens his mouth. Why her mom has two jobs and a big secret. Why her college-football-star brothers won’t even call home. Why her dad would go ballistic if she tried out for the high school football team herself. And why Brian is so, so out of her league.

When you don’t talk, there’s a lot of stuff that ends up not getting said.

Welcome to the summer that fifteen-year-old D. J. Schwenk of Red Bend, Wisconsin, learns to talk, and ends up having an awful lot of stuff to say.

Emma Lord, Tweet Cute (2020).

Meet Pepper, swim team captain, chronic overachiever, and all-around perfectionist. Her family may be falling apart, but their massive fast-food chain is booming ― mainly thanks to Pepper, who is barely managing to juggle real life while secretly running Big League Burger’s massive Twitter account.

Enter Jack, class clown and constant thorn in Pepper’s side. When he isn’t trying to duck out of his obscenely popular twin’s shadow, he’s busy working in his family’s deli. His relationship with the business that holds his future might be love/hate, but when Big League Burger steals his grandma’s iconic grilled cheese recipe, he’ll do whatever it takes to take them down, one tweet at a time.

All’s fair in love and cheese ― that is, until Pepper and Jack’s spat turns into a viral Twitter war. Little do they know, while they’re publicly duking it out with snarky memes and retweet battles, they’re also falling for each other in real life ― on an anonymous chat app Jack built.

As their relationship deepens and their online shenanigans escalate ― people on the internet are shipping them?? ― their battle gets more and more personal, until even these two rivals can’t ignore they were destined for the most unexpected, awkward, all-the-feels romance that neither of them expected.

A fresh, irresistible rom-com from debut author Emma Lord about the chances we take, the paths life can lead us on, and how love can be found in the opposite place you expected.

Lauren MorrillBeing Sloane Jacobs (2014).

“Meet Sloane Emily Jacobs: a seriously stressed-out figure-skater from Washington, D.C., who choked during junior nationals and isn’t sure she’s ready for a comeback. What she does know is that she’d give anything to escape the mass of misery that is her life.

Now meet Sloane Devon Jacobs, a spunky ice hockey player from Philly who’s been suspended from her team for too many aggressive hip checks. Her punishment? Hockey camp, now, when she’s playing the worst she’s ever played. If she messes up? Her life will be over.

When the two Sloanes meet by chance in Montreal and decide to trade places for the summer, each girl thinks she’s the lucky one: no strangers to judge or laugh at Sloane Emily, no scouts expecting Sloane Devon to be a hero. But it didn’t occur to Sloane E. that while avoiding sequins and axels she might meet a hockey hottie—and Sloane D. never expected to run into a familiar (and very good-looking) face from home. It’s not long before the Sloanes discover that convincing people you’re someone else might be more difficult than being yourself.”

Graphic Novels.

C. S. Pascat, Johanna the Mad and Joana Lafuente, Fence (2018).

Fence #1.

Nicholas, the illegitimate son of a retired fencing champion, is a scrappy fencing wunderkind, and dreams of getting the chance and the training to actually compete. After getting accepted to the prodigious Kings Row private school, Nicholas is thrust into a cut-throat world, and finds himself facing not only his golden-boy half-brother, but the unbeatable, mysterious Seiji Katayama…

Through clashes, rivalries, and romance between teammates, Nicholas and the boys of Kings Row will discover there’s much more to fencing than just foils and lunges. From acclaimed writer C.S. Pacat (The Captive Prince) and fan-favorite artist Johanna the Mad.”

Manga.

Hikaru No Go (23 volumes).

While searching through his grandfather’s attic, Hikaru Shindou stumbles upon an old go board. Touching it, he is greeted by a mysterious voice, and soon after falls unconscious. When he regains his senses, he discovers that the voice is still present and belongs to Sai Fujiwara no, the spirit of an ancient go expert. A go instructor for the Japanese Emperor in the Heian Era, Sai’s passion for the game transcends time and space, allowing him to continue playing his beloved game as a ghostly entity. Sai’s ultimate goal is to master a divine go technique that no player has achieved so far, and he seeks to accomplish this by playing the board game through Hikaru.

Despite having no interest in board games, Hikaru reluctantly agrees to play, executing moves as instructed by Sai. However, when he encounters the young go prodigy Akira Touya, a passion for the game is slowly ignited within him. Inspired by his newfound rival, Hikaru’s journey into the world of go is just beginning.”

Baby Steps (47 volumes).

Diligent and methodical honor student Eiichirou Maruo decides to exercise more during the little free time he has available because he is worried about his health. For this reason, after seeing a flyer, he joins the Southern Tennis Club at the beginning of his freshman year.

During his free trial at the club, he meets Natsu Takasaki, another first year student, who is determined on becoming a professional tennis player due to her love for the sport. In contrast, Eiichirou’s study-oriented life exists because he believes that it is what he has to do, not because he enjoys it. However, his monotonous days come to an end as the more he plays tennis, the more he becomes fascinated by it.

Baby Steps is the story of a boy who makes the most of his hard-working and perfectionist nature to develop his own unique playing style. Little by little, Eiichirou’s skills begin to improve, and he hopes to stand on equal footing with tennis’ best players.”

TV Series.

Pitch (2016).

A young pitcher becomes the first woman to play in the Major Leagues.”