With the NCAA Tournament and the NIT kicking into gear this week, sports are certainly in the air at our house. We've dabbled a bit in sports books by Jake Maddox and Matt Christopher, but I've wondered what else might be out there for young sports enthusiasts.
Turns out, Dean Schneider offered some ideas in his article "What Makes a Good Sports Novel?" (pp. 68-72) in the January/February 2011 issue of The Horn Book Magazine. For Schneider, "all good sports novels start --- with the game" --- as well they should! He notes that for older teen readers, sports books need to be "honest novels with mature content ... that ... reflect the world as they are beginning to experience it." For the younger set, he believes that sports books "work best when they even more closely mirror the age, lives, and interests of their fans." He calls for authors of sports novels to write "with an emphasis on active verbs and concrete nouns and spare sentences that dance" and he points out that such "writing can demonstrate the power of story, the power of good writing on subjects kids care about." Ultimately, he thinks that the best we can hope for for young readers are "stories by writers who care enough to make the words matter." Yes please!
So what does Schneider recommend? Here is a sampling for the 9-12 age group*:
Youngest readers in the age group (2nd, 3rd Grade):
General 9-12 Age Group:
*As with all books for children, these titles should be reviewed for content by parents to be certain that the ideas/issues discussed are acceptable in your family.