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Batter Up! Books About Baseball (a Librarian’s List)

Northrop_plunkedAside from the beach, nothing says “summertime” and “American” more than a game of baseball, complete with hot dog, iced beverage, bleachers, and the elusive foul ball dropping into the stands. Our local Minor League team has great promotions all summer that include regular fireworks, $1 hot dog night, bring-your-dog night, and many more. AND, they sponsor their own summer reading challenge which results in … you guessed it… free tickets to the games! Let’s play ball!

9 Books About Baseball: one for each inning

Next best thing to a great game of baseball are great baseball books. Here’s a Librarian’s List to get you started (listed in order of age range):

SomethingSkead_Something to Prove to Prove: the Great Satchel Paige vs. Rookie Joe DiMaggio by Robert Skead and illustrated by Floyd Cooper (Carolrhoda Books, 2013). Hot off the press, this beautifully illustrated picture book describes the meet-up between legendary pitching great, Satchel Paige, and the hottest rookie of the year, Joe DiMaggio. Remember: at the time, baseball leagues were segregated. A white team was looking at DiMaggio, but they wanted to be sure he was good, really good, before shaking things up. Satchel Paige was the perfect test. (Recommended for ages 4 and up)

Satchel Paige Don’t Look Back by David A. Adler and illustrated by Terry Widener (Harcourt, 2007). A Satchel Paige biography (as opposed to the one-time event book just listed) by prolific picture book biographer David Adler, this is perfect for young baseball fans who want to know more (Recommended for kindergarten and up).

Brothers at Bat: the True Story of an Amazing All-Brother Baseball Team by Audrey Vernick and illustrated by Steven Salerno (Clarion, 2012). Janie’s reviewed this gem before, but I wanted to remshe loved baseballind you–it’s a GREAT book. (Recommended for ages 4 and up)

She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story by Audrey Vernick and illustrated by Don Tate (Collins, 2010). A woman inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame!? That’s Effa Manley, a devotee of baseball if there ever was one. (Recommended for ages 4 and up)

There Goes Ted Williams: the Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived by Matt Tavares (Candlewick, 2012).  Sometimes, an athlete has a signature gift, a real talent. That’s Ted Williams. Consistently, he hit that ball–and hit it well. Perfect inspiration for those young baseball players working on perfecting their batting skills. For more information on Tavares, check out this video about his art. (Recommended nelson_we are the shipfor ages 4 and up)

We Are the Ship: the Story of Negro League Baseball by Kadir Nelson (Jump at the Sun, 2008). Nelson’s artwork coupled with the size and length of this book make it a perfect coffee table book for the baseball lovin’ family. Lush paintings of famous players (all from the perspective of a child, so we look up at the man) and Nelson’s use of “we” throughout the book make for an engaging read of the history of the Negro Leagues. Told with honesty and without rancor, this book tells a much needed story of baseball’s early years in this country. (Recommended for ages 7 and up)

Christopher_dogThe Dog That Pitched a No-Hitter by Matt Christopher and illustrated by Daniel Vasconcellos (Little, Brown, 1988). Have a young boy who’s just started reading independently and loves sports? This is a great little series about a boy who can communicate with his dog telepathically, and his dog just so happens to be great at sports. A couple of volumes are about baseball. You’ll find it in the juvenile shelves, not the easy reader section. (Recommended for ages 4 and up; target age is probably 6-9).

Plunked by Michael Northrop (Scholastic, 2012). Sometimes, you just want to quit, to not persevere through something hard, to not face your fears. This is just what 12-year-old Jack faces in Plunked after he gets hit with a baseball. And yet, he’s grown up playing baseball, and he’s a starter this year. A solid story of a boy who learns to hang in there and get back in the game. (Recommended for ages 9 and up, although it is accessible for strong, younger readers).Feinstein_Change Up

Change-Up: Mystery at the World Series by John Feinstein (Knopf, 2009). I really enjoyed Feinstein’s Rush for the Gold last year and was glad he had a baseball book for me to recommend! Feinstein can create a great mystery, but he also shows some interesting behind-the-scenes action for major sporting events in his Final Four Mysteries. The two main characters are high school reporters (Stevie and Susan Carol). Feinstein’s books are clean and offer adventure, sports, mystery, a *touch* of romance, and a great read. They tackle some interesting ethical questions in Change-Up, such as when to report an interesting story, and when to simply sit on it for the good of the man in question. (Recommended for ages 12 and up, although it is accessible to younger readers as well).

What are YOUR favorite baseball-themed books? Does your family enjoy heading to the ballpark?

For more books on baseball, check out the 736.3 section of your library’s Dewey shelves (other sports are also in the 790s). For other sports books reviewed here on Redeemed Reader, check out Emily’s round-up of hopeful sports books, Janie’s recent Final Four (plus one) lineup, gymnast Gabby Douglas’s autobiography, Janie’s review of Unstoppable, and Janie’s round-up of some football books. Book cover images thanks to goodreads; ARC of Something to Prove thanks to publisher via netgalley; other books from my local library.
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  1. Cathy says

    One of our favorites is Bats at the Ball Game by Brian Lies.

    We currently have Casey at the Bat, illustrated by Christopher Bing (a Caldecott honor book) our from the library and our almost 6 yo son is enjoying it. We found a You Tube video of James Earl Jones reciting the poem that was a fun bonus!

  2. Betsy says

    Thanks for the Matt Tavares title, Amy–I’ll have to check that one out!

    And, Cathy, I can’t believe I left out Bats at the Ballgame!! I love that book. I guess I was in the zone of “real” baseball. Bats at the Ballgame is a perfect summer book.

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