“It’s like a—a country or somethin’,” Joey-Mick went on. “Baseball, I mean. A place where everybody’s crazy about the same thing.” – KEEPING SCORE by Linda Sue Park
Pitchers and catchers report!
It’s that time of the year again. Spring training time. Baseball time! Those are magic words to a baseball person.
It’s in my blood. It’s been that way since I was old enough to walk. A bat in my hand feels as natural as a clarinet or a trumpet to a musician. To folks who don’t really enjoy or understand sports, that’s about as well as I can explain the importance of sports to sports kids. It’s part of who they are.
Softball and baseball-crazed kids are my kind of kids. I can identify with their love of the game. I also firmly believe this love of sports can help these kids on their road to becoming lifelong fans of another important activity…READING!
Sports books can be used as gateways to draft the reluctant reader onto the reader team. They give familiar and safe subjects to the reader; subjects they can understand even if the text or the narrative is a challenge.
Pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training signals the start of the Major League Baseball season. It also means it’s time for middle-grade baseball books to report to the shelves of middle-grade readers.
To get some of your favorite middle-grade readers off the bench and in the batter’s box, here’s a short list of middle-grade-ish book titles with a baseball component.
And now, for today’s starting lineup,
MUDVILLE by Kurtis Scaletta
KEEPING SCORE by Linda Sue Park
SUMMERLAND by Michael Chabon
BIG LEAGUE BATBOY by Jerry Gibson
THE DISTANCE TO HOME by Jenn Bishop
HOTHEAD by Cal Ripkin, Jr.
A RAMBLER STEALS HOME by Carter Higgins
THE BATBOY (or anything else) by Mike Lupica
THE GIRL WHO THREW BUTTERFLIES by Mick Cochrane
CHAMP by Marcia Thornton Jones
SAFE AT HOME by Sharon Robinson
SOAR by Joan Bauer
CLUTCH by Heather Camlot
THE BROOKLYN NINE by Alan Gratz
ONLY THE BALL WAS WHITE by Robert Peterson
PROMISES TO KEEP by Sharon Robinson
As evidenced by the number of times I struck out in my baseball playing days, I know I missed more than a few great middle-grade baseball books to recommend. If you have any suggestions, please leave a comment.
(And while you’re at it, can you suggest some middle-grade softball books? I know a bunch of young softball players who are searching for some softball books.)