In the spirit of teamwork, Frank Nappi and I came up with our favorite Top 10 Baseball Books for Kids. We are also giving away his book, The Legend of Mickey Tussler.
It’s baseball season in Boston and that can only mean the Red Sox and checking the schedule to see when the home games are because traffic is brutal in the Fenway on game days.
My kids chuckle to see adults pouring off the subway decked out in Red Sox gear, happy and giddy as kids on their way to a game. But that’s the beauty of baseball games. It makes everyone young again.
Win, lose or draw, you can always count on the food at Fenway Park, Sweet Caroline at the seventh-inning stretch, and the history of the stadium to seep in to give you an experience that says a perfect Boston day!
How about you? Who are you rooting for?
Top 10: Baseball Chapter Books for Kids
10. Camp Average by Craig Battle
Review from Ms. Yingling Reads:
“This is really more of a book about baseball than camp, but it covers both well. It’s funny, lighthearted, but even manages to throw in a few life lessons. Definitely purchasing.” [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
9. The Legend of Mickey Tussler by Frank Nappi
“Riveting. Rewarding. THE LEGEND OF MICKEY TUSSLER reaches the heart the way Alex Rodriguez reaches the bleachers.” – Bill Madden, New York Daily News
17-year-old Mickey Tussler has a golden arm so when Arthur Murphy discovers the boy he is certain he has found his next ace. But Mickey’s Asperger’s poses a real challenge for everyone now that the boy has become a minor league baseball celebrity. Wonderful lessons in tolerance, love, and friendship. [young adult, ages 12 and up]
8. The Boy Who Saved Baseball by John Ritter
This novel goes beyond the usual baseball story by introducing the deeper issue of big developers encroaching upon nature and small-town life in rural California. Baseball is used here again to teach larger issues. Excellent characters. [chapter book, ages 9 and up]
7. The Prince of Fenway Park by Julianna Baggot
An unexpected baseball chapter book that combines time travel fantasy with the Red Sox curse. Such a beautifully written book draws the reader into this adventure. [chapter book, ages 9 and up]
6. The Pitcher by William Hazelgrove
Ricky Hernandez, 13, can hurl a 75-miles-per-hour fastball but has trouble controlling it. He also has trouble with life as a kid being raised by a single mother who is suffering from lupus. Ricky also battles bullies over his Mexican heritage. Story of hope and determination. [young adult, ages 12 and up]
5. New Kid by Tim Green
Tommy’s the new kid in town like he’s been so many times before and he’s having a hard time fitting in, especially when his new friend is the bully from the wrong side of the tracks. Great story about peer pressure and finding one’s way. [chapter book, ages 9 and up]
4. Brooklyn Bat Boy: A Story of the 1947 Season That Changed Baseball Forever by Geoff Griffin
Bobby Kelly is the batboy for the Brooklyn Dodgers the year that they sign Jackie Robinson. His job is to help Jackie, the same as the other players, and he has to accept the idea of having an African-American play for his beloved team. As he gets to know Jackie, though, he grows to respect him, as a player, and as a person. The first season is a pivotal one for the Dodgers and Bobby begins to realize the uphill fight that Jackie Robinson faces, from the taunting in the stands, to the death threats. This is a perfect chapter book for kids who love baseball and are learning about The Civil Rights Movement. History has never felt so real! [chapter book, ages 8 and up]
3. One Shot at Forever by Chris Ballard
Everybody loves an underdog story. One Shot at Forever provides all of the nail-biting excitement characteristics of the David and Goliath tales of the sports world. Uplifting. [young adult, ages 12 and up]
2. Heart of a Champion by Carl Deuker
Baseball is a wonderful metaphor for life in this thought-provoking testimonial to friendship and parental love. Great action and message. [young adult, ages 12 and up]
1. Mudville by Kurtis Scaletta
Imagine living in a small rural town where it rains every single day. This freaky weather condition is attributed to an old Native American curse, dating two decades ago when a baseball rivalry with a neighboring town went very wrong. Roy can deal with the weather but when he returns from baseball camp, he finds a foster kid on his living room couch. This is the summer when things change: Roy’s relationship with his dad, a rematch with that rival town, and a remarkable new weather pattern. Is baseball really the secret to fixing everything that is wrong? [chapter book, ages 9 and up]
More Great Baseball Books for Kids
Dan Unmasked by Chris Negron
Review by Ms. Yingling Reads:
“I am not really a fan of baseball OR of superheroes, but my students ARE, and this was the perfect amalgamation of both. Alternating those two interests helped the story moving along. The wishful thinking exhibited by Dan is so typical of middle school students, and his dedication to helping his friend, even though there was really nothing he could do, was touching. I adored the food inspector mother and all of her warnings about different restaurants, and the subplot with the father’s work keeping him busy was surprisingly touching. George Sanderson’s story added an intriguing and darker layer to this as well. This was a somewhat unusual story, and the writing was strong.” [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
Mamie on the Mound: A Woman in Baseball’s Negro Leagues by Leah Henderson, illustrated by George Doutsiopoulos
I didn’t know that women played on the Negro Baseball League. Mamie “Peanut” Johnson was a gifted baseball player, and she could convince any doubter with her pitching arm. As a child, the Long Branch Police Athletic League was all-white and male, but they made a place for her because she helped her team win two championships. When Jackie Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers, it opened up an opportunity for Mamie indirectly. She thought the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League would follow suit, but they did not allow blacks to play in their league. Other baseball greats like Willie Mays and Satchel Paige from the Negro League moved to Major League Baseball, taking their star power with them. Ticket sales for the Negro Baseball league suffered. Mamie and two female players drew crowds were recruited for their baseball skills and for their ability to draw a crowd. This is a fascinating look at a baseball pioneer and hidden figure. [advanced picture book biography, ages 8 and up]
Josie Bloom and the Emergency of Life by Susan Hill Long
“Josie Bloom is put to the test when she’s confronted by mysterious wads of money, a washed-up baseball player, and a whole lot of squirrels in this hilarious and heartwarming novel in the spirit of Kate DiCamillo’s Raymie Nightingale.” [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
No Cream Puffs by Karen Day
“Madison is not your average 12-year-old girl from Michigan in 1980. She doesn’t use lipgloss, but she loves to play sports and joins baseball for the summer—the first girl in Southern Michigan to play on a boys’ team. The press calls her a star and a trailblazer, but Madison just wants to play ball. Who knew it would be so much pressure? Crowds flock to the games. Her team will win the championship—if she can keep up her pitching streak. Meanwhile, she’s got a crush on a fellow player, her best friend abandons her for the popular girls, the “O” on her Hinton’s uniform forms a bulls-eye over her left breast, and the boy she punched on the last day of school plans to bean her in the championship game.” [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
That’s What Friends Do by Cathleen Barnhart
Review by Ms. Yingling Reads:
“Sammie and David have been good friends ever since the girls in her class started avoiding Sammie because she didn’t share their growing interest in clothes and makeup. Sammie has even gone so far as to play baseball instead of softball, mainly because her father doesn’t think that softball is a “real” sport. When Luke moves to town, David’s mother makes him hang out with the new boy. David is intrigued by Luke’s ease with girls, especially since David is starting to feel as if he likes Sammie more romantically than as a friend. As David spends more time with Luke, Sammie is at loose ends. Her parents are super busy, and her older sisters are interested in high school things, so she starts to talk to the girl softball players a bit and finds they aren’t so bad. Luke seems to have an interest in Sammie, but it’s more predatory than friendly. He eggs David and other boys on to try to kiss or touch Sammie, which mortifies her. The other girls rally around her and talk to her about how it isn’t right for her to have to put up with this kind of behavior. Her sisters help with her father and the softball team. When a terrifying incident occurs, Sammie has to confront both Luke and David and find a way to make them understand, but also a way to be friends with them again.” [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
and here are 3 more books from From the Mixed Up Files:
King of the Bench: No Fear by Steve Moore
This is a really funny book for fans of the Wimpy Kid series. Steve, who is used to being on the bench for all the sports he plays, then becomes fearful of even getting into the game because of a beanball to another player. Been there. [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
Magic Tree House: A Big Day for Baseball by Mary Pope Osborne
I can’t express how much I love the Magic Tree House series. But Time Travel AND baseball? I’m in. In this one, Jack and Annie get to travel to 1947, Brooklyn, (My hometown!) and see Jackie Robinson play for the Brooklyn Dodgers. I grew up hearing my grandmother telling me stories about the Dodgers in Brooklyn, so I love this. [chapter book, ages 6 and up]
Out of Left Field by Ellen Klages
Set in 1957, Katy is the best pitcher in the neighborhood, but girls aren’t allowed to play in Little League. Katy sets out to fight for her right to play the sport she loves, as well as learn about other women who played baseball before her. [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
Golden Arm by Carl Deuker
Review from Ms. Yingling Reads:
“Deuker always writes such intricately deep sports stories, and this one is excellent. Laz’s life in the trailer park, trying to make ends meet, is a compelling story without the sports, but his drive to make a career out of his talent will appeal to young readers even more. There’s never any certainty about what might happen next– I was definitely kept on the edge of my seat reading this one. We see just enough of Antonio’s life to be worried about him, and to know how much Laz cares about him, so that it’s not a surprise that he goes to his aid. The culture shock of going to Laurelhurst is handled well, and the details of being scouted are realistic but not overly hopeful. The light romance, as well as a side story with a local reporter, adds even more depth.” [young adult, ages 12 and up]
Freaked Out at Wrigley Field by Roger D. Hess
Wrigley Field! Hawk and his brothers, Nestor and Michael have never set foot in a major league stadium. So, when their mom arranges for her rough-and-tumble boys to travel to see the Cubs play at Wrigley Field, it’s a dream come true. The plan is simple: Meet up with their eccentric, old Uncle Dave at the bus station in Chicago. Go to the game. Somehow, the simple plan blows up, and the dream adventure turns into their worst nightmare! [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
Ball Park Mysteries by David A. Kelly
This series is a staple for second and third graders with all the elements to get newly independent readers excited: mystery, intrigue, and baseball! You don’t have to be a baseball fan to enjoy this series but it just might turn you into a baseball fan! Try this series for fans of A to Z Mysteries, Boxcar Children, and Bailey School Kids. [chapter book series, ages 6 and up]
More Baseball Book Lists
Great Books for Reluctant Readers by Author David A. Kelly (of Ballpark Mystery series)
My List of Lists: Sports Specific Book Lists for Kids (which includes baseball, basketball, hockey, martial arts and dance — yes, dance is a sport!)
The Legend of Mickey Tussler GIVEAWAY
To win a copy of the book, please fill out the Rafflecopter below.
Frank Nappi has taught high school English and Creative Writing for over twenty five years. His debut novel, ECHOES FROM THE INFANTRY, received national attention, including MWSA’s silver medal for outstanding fiction. His follow-up novel, THE LEGEND OF MICKEY TUSSLER, garnered rave reviews as well, including a movie adaptation of the touching story “A Mile in His Shoes” starring Dean Cain and Luke Schroder. Nappi continues to produce quality work, including SOPHOMORE CAMPAIGN, the intriguing sequel to the much heralded original story and the thriller, NOBODY HAS TO KNOW, which received an endorsement from #1 New York Times bestselling author Nelson DeMille. The third installment of Nappi’s Mickey Tussler series, WELCOME TO THE SHOW, was released April 2016. He is currently at work on his next thriller, AS LONG AS WE BOTH SHALL LIVE. Nappi lives on Long Island with his wife Julia and their two sons, Nicholas and Anthony.
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BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.