Recently a fellow writer started a discussion about how we can get children more motivated to read. My answer was that the experience had to be organic. If we don’t have to push kids to read, let’s not. But…it sure helps to have books lying around that catch their eye and match up with their interests.
Jauerback [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], from Wikimedia Commons
My eight-year-old son has now shown an interest in football. He’s watching it. He’s collecting and sorting football trading cards. He’s throwing a ball around the house. He wants to play it. Unfortunately, I don’t understand downs or scoring and can only name players from the 1986 Super Bowl—winning Bears (go Gary Fencik!). But my son’s interest made me realize it was time: time to find out what books are available on that sport.
Here is my starting line-up of books with football themes. And, like an experienced sportscaster, I noted the highlights of each game…I mean book. (Be sure to check out the nonfiction titles listed at the end.)
MY FICTION ALL-STAR FOOTBALL BOOKS
Back to Pass: A Choose Your Path Football Book by Lisa M. Bolt Simons
You’re the main character, and you’ve played football for most of your life. But without any parents, you’re not only off the team―you don’t go to school anymore. You don’t even have a place to live. When your uncle takes you in, will you get your life in order? And when the local team’s quarterback gets injured, will your skills save their season? Back to Pass isn’t like other football books for kids. With an interactive format, your choices affect the story’s outcome.
Crash by Jerry Spinelli Cocky seventh-grade super-jock Crash Coogan got his nickname the day he used his first football helmet to knock his cousin Bridget flat on her backside. And he has been running over people ever since, especially Penn Webb, the dweeby, vegetarian Quaker kid who lives down the block. Through the eyes of Crash, readers get a rare glimpse into the life of a bully in this unforgettable and beloved story about stereotypes and the surprises life can bring.
Pop by Gordon Korman
When Marcus moves to a new town in the dead of summer, he doesn’t know a soul. While practicing football for impending tryouts, he strikes up a friendship with a man named Charlie, the best football player Marcus has ever seen.
Coach Hyatt Is a Riot! by Dan Gutman
It’s Pee Wee Football season, and A.J.’s new coach is crazy. She wants the boys to do push-ups in the mud. She wants them to pick up a car. And worst of all, she wants to put girls on the team! You’ll never believe in a million hundred years what happens in the big game.
Million Dollar Throw by Mike Lupica
If a million dollars was at stake, could you make the throw? Nate Brodie is nicknamed “Brady” not only for his arm, but also because he’s the biggest Tom Brady fan. He’s even saved up to buy an autographed football. And when he does, he wins the chance for something he’s never dreamed of—to throw a pass through a target at a Patriots game for one million dollars.
Football Genius series by Tim Green
Twelve-year-old Troy White has a phenomenal gift: He can predict football plays before they even happen. Any position. Any player. Any team. When Troy’s single mom gets a job working for the Atlanta Falcons, Troy sees this as an opportunity to show what he can do.
MVP #3: The Football Fumble by David A. Kelly
The MVP kids can’t wait to play in the big football game. That is, until they catch a glimpse of their opponents! The team from Hamilton Elementary School seems bigger and—even worse—just plain mean. Taking on a tough opponent is never easy. Will this bully blitz keep the MVPs off their game? Or can they find a way to huddle together and win the day?
I must mention two MVPs of football books for middle graders: authors Jake Maddox and Matt Christopher. And as we all know, it’s better to have a whole team of books ready for a pumped-up reader.
Matt Christopher books
Football Double Threat
The Great Quarterback Switch
Catch That Pass!
Touchdown for Tommy
Tough to Tackle
The Team That Couldn’t Lose
Matt Christopher’s Football Jokes and Riddles
Football bloopers, puzzlers, fun facts, and wacky stories — Matt Christopher, the number-one sports writer for kids, scores a touchdown with this zany collection for fans of pigskin-tossing, gridiron-hitting action!
MY NONFICTION ALL-STAR FOOTBALL BOOKS
Super Gear: Nanotechnology and Sports Team Up by Jen Swanson
Take a close-up look at sports and nanotechnology, the cutting-edge science that manipulates objects at the atomic level. Nanotechnology is used to create high-tech swimsuits, tennis rackets, golf clubs, running shoes, and more. It is changing the face of sports as we know it.
What Is the Super Bowl? by Dina Anastasio
With over 110 million viewers every year, the Super Bowl is one of the most watched television events in the United States. The final showdown between the two best football teams in the NFL attracts some of the biggest musicians to perform at the half-time show. But the Super Bowl is more than just a spectacle – it’s a high-stakes game to win the championship and claim a place in history.
John Madden’s Heroes of Football by John Madden
Illustrated with photos, sidebars, and analytical charts, the story of football is told by the man who defined the game.
The Science of Football with Max Axiom, Super Scientist by Nikole Brooks Bethea
Snap! The quarterback throws it deep into the endzone. With the leap of a receiver, the team earns six points. What’s behind it all? Science! Let Max Axiom, Super Scientist, explain the science behind the perfect punt, the right way to throw a football, and much, much more.
Football Superstars 2018: Facts & Stats by Simon Mugford
It’s a touchdown! With plenty of photos and facts about football’s finest, this book is the perfect gift for any young fan of the sport. It covers 20 players across the NFL.
Football: Then to Wow! by The Editors of Sports Illustrated Kids
See how all aspects of football have evolved in this highly visual book filled with history and trivia about the game. You’ll see a football transform before your eyes from a melon-like ball crudely stitched together to the aerodynamic pigskin it is today.
It’s the fourth quarter, and the clock ticks down. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. The game is up! Enjoy this list of winning football books!