Sports-themed books can be a great way to encourage kids to take up a new activity or to participate more readily - as well as inspiring them to enjoy reading.
If you have a sports-mad child, then sports books are one of the best ways to get them excited about reading - learning important life lessons about teamwork, determination and perseverance along the way. There are lots of great children's sports stories available, covering a huge range of activities, games and disciplines.
We have gathered together a list of excellent sports books - with something for everyone. From high-dive tales to football fantasy fiction, there is a sports story to suit every age and activity...
Froggy Learns to Swim, by Jonathan London
Everyone knows that frogs are meant to be great swimmers - but Froggy is afraid of the water. This bright and colourful picture book follows Froggy as his friends and family encourage him to swim. With some silly songs and some great lessons about the importance of overcoming your fears, this is a great story for young and reluctant swimmers. Perfect for 3 - 5-year-olds.
Marathon Mouse, by Amy Dixon
One of the best sports books for younger children, Marathon Mouse is a great first book to introduce the idea of running to the youngest members of the family. This brilliant picture book has an inspirational storyline, following a New York City mouse whose dream is to run in the New York City Marathon. Suitable for age 4+
Cutie Sue Wins the Race, by Kate Melton
A brilliant choice for 3 - 7-year-olds, this story follows Cutie Sue as she sets out to win at the school sports day. Focusing on the importance of setting goals and working hard to reach them, the book also takes a look at how healthy eating, drinking lots of water and leading an active lifestyle help to become a better sportsperson. This joyful and fun story is illustrated with beautiful pictures, and the story is told in rhyming verses - making it perfect for bedtime reading or reading practice for younger children.
Jabari Jumps, by Gaia Cornwall
This sweet story follows Jabari as he prepares for his high dive - he has passed all the tests, he's learned all the tricks - but he's still got to conquer his fears. Suitable for 4 - 7-year-olds, this is a tale of overcoming one's fears with determination, and a little support from your loved ones.
I Will Try, by Marilyn Janovitz
Ella is ready to give up after her first attempt at gymnastics - but her friend Jan, who is the star of the gymnastics class, encourages her to keep going. Illustrated with lots of lovely drawings, this story is full of valuable lessons about sportsmanship, kindness, friendship and the importance of perseverance and practice. Suitable for 4 - 8-year-olds.
Women in Sport: 50 Fearless Athletes Who Played to Win, by Rachel Ignotofsky
From the early pioneers to modern-day megastars, this brilliant book celebrates the amazing sportswomen who have reached the top of their game. With lots of different sports stars, including Clare Balding and Serena Williams, as well as lesser-known sports stars, such as Keiko Fukuda and Gertrude Ederle - their tales are sure to inspire young girls to participate - and more importantly - enjoy sport. The brilliant illustrations tell the rich history of women in sport, dating from the 1800s to the present day, and covering more than 40 different sports. Suitable for ages 6+
Big Dan Runs the Marathon, by Dan O'Neil
A children's sports story for the kid that always gets picked last - this tale follows Dan as he trains for his first marathon. Based on the authors own experiences with marathon training, the story focuses on important life lessons that you learn through sports - that winning isn't everything, and that sometimes the journey is the truly rewarding part. This tale of perseverance, friendship and the importance of working towards your goals is best for age 6+.
Sean Wants to be Messi, by Tanya Preminger
Winner of the Mum's Choice Awards 2018, 'Sean Wants to be Messi' is part of a larger series, but works just as well as a standalone story. Perfect for football fans aged 6 - 10, the reader follows Sean as he battles the school bullies and his own fears in the hope of becoming the best footballer in the world. This inspiring tale will help children to understand the importance of practice and determination. Other books in the series include 'Sean Goes To Barcelona' and 'Sean Tackles London'.
The Rugby Zombies, by Dan Anthony
Whilst wandering through the woods, a group of boys find fourteen zombies - all dress in Wales rugby tops. In this fun and entertaining tale, the boys befriend the zombies, helping them to train and practice. With three books in the series, this is a great choice for newly confident readers, aged 7+.
The Boy Who Never Gave Up, by Anthony Curcio
Perfect for children who love basketball - this true story is based on the life of NBA superstar, Stephen Curry. An inspiring tale, the book follows Curry as he works to overcome the hurdles and obstacles that are stopping him from becoming a professional basketball player. Against all the odds, Curry follows his dreams - becoming one of the best players in the world, and the book teaches that determination, passion and drive are often the keys to success. Great for basketball fans aged 7 +
Unbelievable Football: The Most Incredible True Football Stories You Never Knew, by Matt Oldfield
Bestselling author, Matt Oldfield, tells some of the most incredible, crazy stories from the world of football. Full of bizarre tales throughout the history of the game, the stories include the psychic octopus who could predict the winning team, the dog detective that managed to save the World Cup, and the worlds best footballer who never actually played a match... Football fans who are 7 - 11 will devour this fun and entertaining book.
The Football Wonder Chronicles 1 - 3, by Martin Smith
The perfect novel for football fanatics aged 7 - 13, these stories follow Charlie Fry, an 11-year-old boy who wants to play in the World Cup. After a freak accident, he is left with a unique gift - he cannot miss a goal - but can he convince his local team to let him join, or will the school bullies mean he has gets left on the sidelines?
Tumbling by Caela Carter
This thrilling, nail-biting story follows five girls who are competing to join the Olympic gymnastic team. With memorable characters and a gripping plot, this is a great novel for young adults who are interested in competitive sports or gymnastics. Suitable for tweens and teens.