Posts Tagged MG sports books

Basbeball Booklist: Four Books For Your Baseball-Obsessed Middle Grader

four middle grade books

Baseball Booklist

It’s officially spring, and when I was in middle school, there was only one thing that meant to me: spring training season! My middle school years were defined by the New York Mets. I couldn’t get enough of them, and the months before spring training were made colder by the lack of heat felt from the sound of a bat cracking against a baseball. The only way that I could tithe my obsession over until the next season was by escaping into books about baseball.

That’s the thing about middle-grade-aged kids. As a mom of one, I see that gripping passion that takes hold when a child finds a passion and becomes blindingly obsessed with it. It’s those moments when they can’t seem to get enough of whatever they’ve fallen in love with that you’ll find the perfect opportunity to indulge them with books. Whether it’s a sport, a band, or a show (Stranger Things obsessed middle grader in my house), you can casually slide a book about it their way and watch them gobble it up. The point is, you’ll get them reading.

“Kids like to read when it’s fun and when it’s relevant to their interests…In addition to wanting to read more, your child will also expand his or her imagination.” – Save The Children, Child Literacy Statistics for Parents

So, for my baseball-obsessed middle graders out there, this list of books about baseball is for you:

Four Books About Baseball

book about baseball and Jackie Robinson

The Hero Two Doors Down by Sharon Robinson

Can you imagine what it would be like for your middle grader to befriend a baseball legend? This middle-grade novel is based on the true story of the friendship between eight-year-old Stephen Satlow and baseball great Jackie Robinson.

Having been a middle-grade fanatic, I can attest that all sports-loving kids dream about meeting their favorite players and even fantasize about becoming friends with them. This story follows Stephen in his Brooklyn neighborhood as he develops a bond with an American hero, tapping into those fantasies.


books about baseball Girl pitching on a blue background

Out Of Left Field by Ellen Klages

Katy is the best pitcher in town, and everyone knows it. Then why is she barred from playing for their little league team? Why is it only for the boys? Readers will join Katy’s movement for girl’s rights in baseball in this middle grade novel. She sets out on a campaign with the help of friendly librarians to prove that lots of girls love and play baseball. Katy doesn’t understand why these baseball heroes have gone unknown, but she’s on a mission to change that and the rules of her town’s little league.

Out Of Left Field is the third book of The Gordon Family Saga, which means you may get your child to read more than one book because, as stated above, when middle graders become enamored with something, they can’t get enough.


books about baseball with a Girl in a baseball uniform and her arms crossed

Lupe Wong Won’t Dance by Donna Barba Higuera

Speaking of girl activists, meet Lupe Wong—champion of causes. Whether she’s fighting for the expansion of options when it comes to designating one’s race on a school test or demanding less wait time between Doctor Who seasons, Lupe Wong stands for what she believes in.

So, when the chance to meet her favorite baseball player, Fu Li Hernandez—a fellow Chinese Mexican, requires straight As on her report card, she sees no problem…until gym class takes up square dancing. No way Lupe will let that happen.


books about baseball player swinging a baseball bat

Baseball Great by Tim Green

This one would be for the older middle-grade reader as the topic of steroids is covered in this riveting story which is as much about a talented young baseball player as it is about a father-son relationship.

Josh’s talent is too good to ignore, especially for his father who pulls him from school tryouts and pushes him toward the traveling youth championship team coached by Rocky Valentine.

Playing baseball is all that Josh wants, but when he’s being pressed to drink protein shakes and take supplements, he knows something is wrong. He and his friend Jaden uncover a dangerous secret and catch the attention of a man willing to do anything to keep the secret from getting out.


These four kids books about baseball scream everything I would’ve craved for as a kid.


((If you enjoyed this list, you’ll love the list here))

Book Blast: It’s a Number’s Game!


To celebrate the release of It’s A Numbers Game! Baseball by James Buckley, Jr., and foreword by Cincinnati Reds’ Pitcher Sean Doolittle on February 2nd, as well as Pi Day on 3/14 and the start of Baseball season, blogs across the web are featuring exclusive spreads from the book plus 5 chances to win a finished copy and a $25 gift card to the MLB Shop!


Buy: Amazon | Indiebound | Bookshop
Follow National Geographic Kids: Website | Twitter | Books Twitter | Facebook | Youtube


With every hit, ball, strike, and home run numbers are being calculated on the baseball field. Get ready to learn all the ways digits and math factor into the game, from the countless statistics used to measure an individual player’s game to the exact timing used to steal a base.
Read about all the greatest players from baseball history and get fun facts, like what the most retired jersey number is. Discover what countries dominate in the Little League World Series and check out cool graphics that show the frequency of hits to every part of the field. Jam-packed with sports trivia, awesome photos, and fun activities at the end of every chapter, this number-focused look at the game is the ultimate grand slam.
JAMES BUCKLEY, JR. is the author of more than 100 books for young readers on basketball, baseball, football, soccer, and more. A former editor at Sports Illustrated and NFL Publishing, he is also the author of the top-selling annual Scholastic Year in Sports. In the non-sports world, he has written a dozen titles in the New York Times best-selling Who Was…? biography series. He lives in Santa Barbara, California, where he runs the Shoreline Publishing Group, a leading producer of nonfiction for kids.


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  • One (1) winner will receive a finished copy of It’s A Numbers Game! Baseball by James Buckley, Jr., and foreword by Cincinnati Reds’ Pitcher Sean Doolittle and a $25 gift card to the MLB store!
  • Check out the other four stops for more chances to win
  • US/Can only
  • Ends 3/21 at 11:59pm ET

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Book Blast Schedule:

March 8th – Frantic Mommy

March 9th – BookHounds

March 10th – Always in the Middle

March 11th – From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle Grade Authors

March 12th – Christy’s Cozy Corners

Sporty Girls! Interview with J.H. Diehl and Laura Shovan

We are thrilled to have on the Mixed Up Files today two authors with new middle grade books featuring awesome girls in sports! Welcome to J.H. Diehl, whose TINY INFINITIES came out on May 8th, and Laura Shovan, whose TAKEDOWN releases on June 19th.

TINY INFINITIES: When Alice’s dad moves out, leaving her with her troubled mother, she does the only thing that feels right: she retreats to her family’s old Renaissance tent in the backyard, determined to live there until her dad comes home. In an attempt to keep at least one part of her summer from changing, Alice focuses on her quest to swim freestyle fast enough to get on her swim team’s record board. But summers contain multitudes, and soon Alice meets an odd new friend, Harriet, whose obsession with the school’s science fair is equal only to her conviction that Alice’s best stroke is backstroke, not freestyle. Most unexpected of all is an unusual babysitting charge, Piper, who is mute—until Alice hears her speak. A funny and honest middle-grade novel, this sharply observed depiction of family, friendship, and Alice’s determination to prove herself—as a babysitter, as a friend, as a daughter, as a person—rings loud and true.

TAKEDOWN: Mikayla is a wrestler; when you grow up in a house full of brothers who are die-hard mat heads, it’s in your DNA. She even has a wrestling name: Mickey. Some people don’t want a girl on the team. But that won’t stop her. She’s determined to work hard, and win.

Lev is determined too–he’s going to make it to the state championship. He’s used to training with his two buddies as the Fearsome Threesome. But at the beginning of sixth grade, he’s paired with a new partner—a girl. This better not get in the way of his goal.

Mickey and Lev work hard together, and find a way to become friends. But at States, there can only be one winner.

This warmhearted, engaging novel by the author of the highly praised The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary explores competition among athletes, how it influences family and friendships, and what happens when one girl wants to break barriers in a sport dominated by boys.

TINY INFINITIES centers on a swimmer and TAKEDOWN features wrestlers. What inspired you to write about these sports? What was hard and what was fun about doing a deep dive into them?

Laura: I’m a recovering wrestling mom. My son wrestled for many years. During his practices and tournaments, I would sit in the bleachers and write in my notebook – little poems and sketches about what I observed on and off the mat. When my son moved on from the sport, I wasn’t ready to leave it behind. I still wanted to understand what it means to compete one-on-one, with no equipment other than your body, your brain, and your training. I needed to think through youth sports, and how competing at a high level affects not only the young athlete, but their entire family.

The hard part? By the time I was ready to write TAKEDOWN, it had been several years since my son hung up his wrestling boots. I had to relearn the sport and that was definitely a deep dive. I interviewed coaches, athletes, and wrestling parents, went to competitions, and watched hours of documentaries and tournaments on YouTube. The interviews were my favorite part. I love hearing people’s stories as I research a book. I made some good friends in the process.

Jean: In TINY INFINITIES, I wanted thirteen-year-old Alice to have an activity and a place to go outside her family. And I wanted her to have a goal she was seriously passionate about besides her goal to reunite her family. It needed to be a summer activity, because fireflies also play a key role in the story, and the season for fireflies in summer. For me, the book is partly about how a sport like swimming can help a kid through tough times.

Like Laura, I’m the mom of two kids who participated in the sport I wrote about. My son and daughter swam for a community pool summer team for more than a decade. I married into a swimming family, and in fact I’m the only person in two generations who did not grow up swimming competitively. We have age group, high school and college swimmers, water polo players, and one of my sisters-in-law trained to swim with the Argentine Olympic team. So I guess you could say TINY INFINITIES is my contribution to a family tradition.

The hard part, for me, was that Alice turns into a backstroker, and I don’t swim backstroke. Fortunately, I had plenty of family members to consult. I did lots of research, too, including – like Laura – reviewing YouTube videos, especially to watch backstroke races and tutorials in backstroke ‘starts’ and ‘turns’. The fun part was writing about what it’s like to participate in summer swim meets. I also loved getting to write in detail about something I’d never accomplished myself, that is, winning a backstroke race. And (minor spoiler alert) I loved writing about what it felt like for Alice to achieve her goal in the sport.

There seems to be so much pressure on girls these days to be “Instagram-ready,” and many aspire to a particular kind of stereotypical beauty and glamour. You’re showcasing a different type of girl. Did you think about the stereotypes that are imposed on girls and how to respond to that in your book?

Laura: One of my main characters, Mickey, is the first girl on an all-boy wrestling team. As a female athlete competing in a traditionally male, contact sport, Mickey has to confront deeply held beliefs about whether girls have the physicality, ability, and emotional strength to step on the mat and face a boy. It was important to me to give Mickey some female friends to talk this through with (her two older brothers – both wrestlers – help too). The character of Kenna, Mickey’s best friend and wrestling partner, is more aware than Mickey that middle school girls are expected to conform to feminine stereotypes. Her decision to walk away from the sport is devastating for Mickey.

I also wanted to look at societal beliefs about male athletes. The other main character in TAKEDOWN, Lev, sees wrestling as an important part of his identity. But when the coach assigns him to be Mickey’s training partner, Lev starts to question stereotypes too, especially around boys and toughness.

Jean: In my book, Alice’s new best friend, Harriet, is entirely engaged by her interests in math and science. Harriet enjoys reciting the first three hundred digits of pi and is laser-focused on creating a winning project for next year’s school science fair. She’s humble about being super-advanced in math, has an eclectic curiosity for the science of the world around her, and eventually leads an experiment to recreate firefly bioluminescence in a makeshift lab. Harriet is not entirely oblivious to feminine stereotypes around her, but she doesn’t allow them to define her – she has no time for them. I wanted to contrast Harriet with Alice, who has grown away from a group of friends more influenced by conventional stereotypes. I think Harriet gives Alice some sense of freedom to just be herself.

Friendship is an important part of both books, as well, and is such an important part of kids’ lives in the middle grade years. What was your goal in featuring these friendships?

Laura: My goal was to reflect the experience of moving out of the elementary school bubble and into junior high, a transition which can strain friendships. There are new kids to meet, new academic pressures, and a busier schedule as students travel between classes. Suddenly, the friends kids spent most of their elementary school day with are pulled in different directions. Both Mickey and Lev put so much time into their training and competition schedule, it’s easy for their non-wrestling friends to feel neglected. I wanted to show how my main characters struggle to form a good partnership with each other, even as they each fight to keep old friendships intact.

Jean: In my book, Alice makes three unlikely new friends. The first is Piper, a four-year-old girl who has lost the ability to speak and to hear language; the second Owen, Piper’s half-brother, an aspiring sushi chef who’s spending his summer being bounced around among relatives; the third is Harriet, who is new to the swim team and also thirteen. Unlike Alice, who has a talent for connecting to people, Harriet’s social skills are kind of like a stereo tuner with its treble and bass out of balance. Over the course of Alice’s life-changing summer, she influences her new friends in a profound way, and is influenced by them. My goal was to characterize how the good friendships we make – sometime the most unlikely friendships we make – can help us to grow up.

Thank you, Laura and Jean, for sharing your wonderful stories with us!

Kate Hillyer was a high school soccer player, including one ill-fated game against Mia Hamm. She runs, writes, and raises her three kids in Washington, D.C. You can find her online at, and on Twitter as @SuperKate. She also blogs at The Winged Pen