Inside: Looking for the best children’s books about soccer? Discover fiction and nonfiction books for kids to read and learn everything about this worldwide sport!
Children’s Books about Soccer
Mina vs. the Monsoon by Rukhsanna Guidroz, illustrated by Debasmita Dasgupta
This isn’t a picture book about the monsoon rains. It’s really a story about a young girl who loves soccer. There is a surprise about who else likes soccer that you can discover drinking chai, eating samosas, and, of course, playing soccer! [picture book, ages 4 and up]
The Field by Baptiste Paul, illustrated by Jacqueline Alcántara
It just takes an open field, a makeshift goal, and a ball to play futbol. Rain, mud, and mamas calling you in can stop these joyous children from playing soccer! This is a joyous celebration of a Creole childhood and of the love of soccer. Creole words are included in the text.
“Creole is a language spoken by peoples of several Caribbean islands including Haiti, Saint Lucia, and Dominica.” [picture book, ages 4 and up]
José and Feliz Play Fútbol (José and El Perro) by Susan Rose and Silvia López, illustrated by Gloria Felix
I love that this early chapter book includes Spanish words. José makes his school soccer team and his dog, Feliz, helps him train. Both José and his dog have skills! At practice, Feliz impresses the coach with his dribbling skills but José worries his dog will interfere in their upcoming game. Not to worry, Feliz is well-behaved and José scores a goal! Soccer players of every age will delight in this gentle story celebrating Latinx futbol. [Early Chapter Book, ages 5 and up]
Soccer Dreams by Shawn Pryor, illustrated by Genevieve Kote
I love the diverse characters in this new easy reader series by Capstone featuring girl protagonists. In Soccer Dreams, Keisha joins a soccer team because wants to be a striker like her grandpa but it turns out that there’s another position that suits her more. [easy reader, ages 5 and up]
Lola Levine is Not Mean! by Monica Brown, illustrated by Angela Dominguez
Lola Levine is a great soccer goalie but that’s not always appreciated by her classmates. The popular girls think Lola is mean when she slide-tackles a classmate who ends up injured. Lola uses her writing to resolve her problems and young readers will enjoy this strong girl character as she navigates second grade.
I especially liked the references to Monica Brown’s Pelé soccer picture book biography (also on this book list), and a favorite picture book of mine, Everyone Poops. Monica Brown scores the winning goal with this soccer story of fitting in, being yourself, and playing your heart out.[early chapter book series, ages 6 and up]
You Can Do It, Yasmin! by Saadia Fariqi, illustrated by Hatem Aly
The first story in this collection features Yasmin reluctantly learning to play soccer. She tries to get out of playing but Coach Garcia wants her to try new things. She gets chosen to be a goalie. Will she be able to stop the ball? Yasmin is a spunky and relatable character that readers will root for! [chapter book, ages 6 and up]
Booked by Kwame Alexander
My son learned that he liked poetry after reading The Crossover. My son doesn’t play basketball but he’s played club soccer since he was eight. When I told him Kwame Alexander’s next book was about soccer, he was excited to read it. He liked this book about soccer, divorce, and bullying too.
I was surprised that a soccer star could be bullied. I haven’t seen that where I live, but I guess it happens. [novel in verse, for ages 10 and up]
Mañanaland by Pam Muñoz Ryan
Review from Randomly Reading:
“Eleven-year-old Maximiliano Cordoba loves playing fútbol, and hopes to someday play on the celebrated Santa Maria national team just like his Papá and his Abuelo did when they were young. And tryouts are only a few weeks away. But when Max is invited to join a fútbol clinic in another town, his father refuses to give him permission to go. Instead, Max is invited to help his father find needed stones for building a new bridge and earn money to buy a new pair of coveted soccer shoes. Additionally, Papá and Abuelo offer to coach Max themselves so he can make the team. But when Max learns that he will need a birth certificate to play on the Santa Maria team, he also learns that his Papá doesn’t have a copy of it. Nor does Max know where his mother is, only that she left when he was a baby…For the most part, Max’s story seems to be divided into two unrelated threads – his desire to play fútbol and his desire to find out about his mother. But then Ryan begins to tie these two threads together in the most unexpected way and that is when the book becomes unputdownable.” [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
Will on the Inside by Andrew Eliopulos
Review from A Kid’s Book A Day:
“Will is passionate about his soccer team and enjoys an easy camaraderie with his teammates, despite his somewhat introverted nature. Stomach issues and fatigue lead to a diagnosis of Crohn’s disease and being sidelined from soccer. With more free time, Will starts hanging out with Griffin, a boy who’s been picked on by Will’s other friends for asking one of the boys, Will’s best friend Henry, to the school dance. As he comes to terms with his chronic disease, the ways it impacts his life, and questions about his own sexuality, Will learns to ask for help when he needs it and to speak up when he sees injustice or bullying.” [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
Select by Christie Matheson
Review by A Kid’s Book A Day:
“This fast-paced sports story brings the issue of abusive coaches to light, with a courageous protagonist who must deal with difficult issues both at home and on the field. Her coach Jayda provides an example of good coaching while also serving as something of a stand-in parent.” [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
#OwnVoices Soccer Picture Book Biographies
For the Love of Soccer! by Pelé, illustrated by Frank Morrison
Arguably the best soccer player of all time, Pelé speaks to a young audience about what drove him. He loved competing in games, being part of a team, and most of all, the pure love of the game. His positive messages and inspirational story of overcoming poverty are other reasons why he is an icon of soccer. [picture book autobiography, ages 4 and up]
This is not an #OwnVoices book but it does tell the story of a remarkable talent in the Himalayas. Sunakali, a small Nepalese country girl, keeps goats with her friends in the Himalayas. But the girls have a secret passion: soccer! They play it every afternoon in the pastures. One day, a visitor from Katmandu asks to meet them. I want to start a national women’s soccer team. I will coach you and get you invited to tournaments. It’s the beginning of an incredible true story. [middle grade picture book, ages 8 and up] Releases November 28, 2021
More Great Diverse Soccer Books
The Floating Field: How a Group of Thai Boys Built Their Own Soccer Field by Scott Riley, illustrated by Nguyen Quang and Kim Lien
Review by A Kid’s Book A Day:
“Prasit Nemmin and his friends could only play soccer a couple of times a month since the sandbar they played on in their island village of Koh Panyee, Thailand was underwater the rest of the time. Watching the World Cup on TV made them want to play every day, inspiring their plan to build a floating field. Using cast-off wood and old barrels, they were able to build a platform that could stay afloat on top of buoys. They practiced just about every day, and their persistence paid off with a third-place win at a local tournament. Includes a two-page author’s note with photos and maps, and a note from Prasit about how and why he and his friends built the field back in 1986. His love of soccer endures, and his son has played for the national champion Panyee Football Club. Also includes some soccer words in Thai and a bibliography.” [picture book, ages 6 and up]
Courage in Her Cleats: The Story of Soccer Star Abby Wambach by Kim Chaffee, illustrated by Alexandra Badiu
Review by A Kid’s Book A Day:
“As the youngest of seven children, Abby Wambach learned to be tough, especially on the soccer field. After a successful high school career that ended with a crushing state championship loss, Abby played at the University of Florida where she was recruited for the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team. She toughened up even more with a personal trainer to become part of the team that won the gold medal at the 2004 Olympics. She was on track to win another medal when she broke her leg shortly before the 2008 Olympics, but her encouragement from the sidelines helped her team win gold again. After a year of rehab, she was back, scoring her 100th career goal in 2009.” [picture book biography, ages 4 and up]
Ten Thousand Tries by Amy Makechnie
From Caroline Starr Rose:
“Golden “Macaroni” Maroni is determined to become master of his eighth-grade universe by channeling his hero: international soccer superstar, Lionel Messi. But first, he’s got to survive middle school, win the soccer championship, and prevent Lucy Littlehouse from moving away. If he can do that, then maybe he can prevent Dad from losing to the three worst letters in the alphabet: A-L-S. Golden’s going to make it happen – even if it takes Ten Thousand Tries!” [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
Happy Like Soccer by Maribeth Boelts, illustrated by Lauren Castillo
Sierra lives with her aunt in a small apartment in the inner city. She’s made an elite soccer team that plays far from her neighborhood. The other players’ parents are able to cheer for their kids but Sierra’s aunt has to work. Saturdays are busy days at the restaurant.
For the last game, her aunt’s boss offers her a different shift so she can attend her niece’s game but it’s rained out. Sierra figures out a solution but is she brave enough to ask her coach [picture book, ages 4 and up]
Soccer Star by Mina Javaherbin, illustrated by Renato Alarcão
This picture book should have been the 2014 World Cup designated picture book. Set in Brazil, it’s an homage to all the children who work for a living but manage to rise from poverty through the game of soccer.
Paulo Marcelo Feliciano works on a fishing boat by day and his captain also coaches their pick-up team. They play to win but when one player gets hurt, will Paulo’s little sister finally be able to join the boys? [picture book, ages 4 and up]
Goal! by Mina Javaherbin, illustrated by A. G. Ford
A new federation-size soccer ball is a rare prize in their small South African town. Ajani and his friends want to play soccer with it but how can they keep their ball safe from bullies that roam their streets? [picture book, ages 6 and up]
The Soccer Fence: A story of friendship, hope, and apartheid in South Africa by Phil Bildner
When Apartheid ended, the soccer fence separating Hector from a pitch where white boys played soccer was still closed. For the African Cup of Nations in 1996, the South African team was, for the first time, inclusive and their victory in defeating Cameroon for the title helped to bring their country together.
And finally, the fence opened for Hector. The power of soccer to find commonality and bring people together is powerfully illustrated in this uplifting picture book. A history of Apartheid is included. [historical fiction picture book, ages 6 and up]
Beyond Lucky by Sara Aronson
This manages to be a soccer book, a coming-of-age book, and a book that explores the idea of self-confidence versus luck. Is it Ari’s rare and valuable Wayne Timcoe trading card that brings him luck? Is that why he’s the starting goalie this year instead of on the bench like in previous years?
But when his card goes missing, it’s up to him to stop the fighting on the team between his best friend and the new girl and figure out what truly makes him a good player. [ middle grade, ages 8 and up]
The World Between: Based on a True Refugee Story by Kenan Trebincevic and Susan Shapiro
From Ms. Yingling Reads:
“Kenan is a tween living in Brčko, Yugoslavia in the early 1990s. His family is Muslim, and while tensions are rising among religious factions, his father owns a popular local gym and feels that it is safe to stay. Kenan loves to play football (US soccer), but as the political situation worsens, he finds himself alienated from his teammates and friends at school. When asked if he is Bosnian, Yugoslavian, or Muslim, he replies “My country is Yugoslavia. I’m from the Bosnian Republic. My religion is Muslim.” For Kenan, it’s that simple, and his family just wants to continue to live in peace. This of course, is not feasible. The family (parents and older brother Edin) is lucky enough to make their way to Vienna, where they have some relatives. It’s not easy doubling up with another family, not having any space or privacy, and having to always be very quiet so as not to disturb their hosts. There are many refugees, and while the government is giving them a stipend, they don’t necessarily want the refugees to take jobs from the locals, so they aren’t allowed to get jobs. They apply to go to other countries, and eventually get clearance to go to the US. Kenan hopes to be in New York City or California, but the family is sent to a small town in Connecticut where they live with a woman named Barbara. She’s welcoming enough, but after the family moves out, they find that she was taking money and gifts the family was given and keeping it for herself. The pastor who helps the family, Don, is much more helpful. Living with him and his wife is much better, and Kenan starts to make friends at his school and starts to enjoy life in the US. His parents are still looking for employment, and when the father gets a job, the family must move to a town nearby. Kenan is angry, but realizes that he can still keep in contact with his best friend, and he slowly starts to establish his new, US identity.” [middle grade, ages 9 and up]
Soccer Trophy Mystery by Fred Bowen
Review from Randomly Reading:
“Thirteen-year-old twins Aiden and Ava and their good friend Daniel, all avid soccer players, have just learned their county league soccer trophy mysteriously disappeared forty years ago from the town library. It was never recovered.
FAME: The World Cup All-Stars: David Beckham, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Diego Maradona by Michael Frizell, illustrated by Pablo Martinena & Angel Bernuy
These are graphic novel biographies of some of the best soccer players in the world. [graphic novel, ages 8 and up]
Benchwarmers by John Feinstein
Twelve-year-old Jeff Michaels, son of a Philadelphia TV sports reporter, is just learning to play soccer on the new sixth-grade team at his middle school. Andrea Carillo has fought her way onto the squad, but the coach doesn’t think girls should play with boys, so she’s riding the bench with Jeff―even though she’s one of the best players.
With Jeff’s help, the Philly media gets ahold of the story, and suddenly Andi is all over the news as she shows her worth on the soccer field. But amid bullies, threats, and a media firestorm, will Andi’s skills and Jeff’s perseverance be enough to save the season?
From sportswriter John Feinstein comes this action-packed novel about two kids who may be “benchwarmers,” but prove themselves naturals when it comes to teamwork, friendship, and finding a path to victory. (publisher description) [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
Shine On, Luz Véliz! by Rebecca Balcárcel
Review by Ms. Yingling Reads:
“The beginning sucked me right in– a sports injury that makes a child incapable of playing a sport they love. This is absolutely devastating, especially when the father was also coaching. It was good that Luz found another interest, and her relationship with Mr. Mac was fantastic. In fact, I think he is my favorite middle-grade neighbor EVER! Of course, he is about my age, given his relationship with the entire history of computers! The coding and tech descriptions are about the best and most realistic that I have ever seen. Having a new sister arrive at the house is also done realistically, and the information about situations in Guatemala, as well as the Guatemalan culture in Luz’s household, also strikes just the right note. The depiction of starting a new school in a new country is great, and I loved that the girls communicated using Google translate! Just the other day, I had a student come into the library, type into her phone, and show me “Can I have a book that’s not too hard?” This is a spot-on use of technology. Luz’s parents are supportive, the school details all make sense, and I enjoyed this story quite a bit.” [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
I have more soccer-related posts:
- Newton’s laws of physics using soccer
- My daughter gets cut from her soccer team (but it spurs her to improve)
- How To Coach Girls new ebook with 3 bonus chapters (a guide for coaches to keep girls in sports)
- Our trip to Canada to watch the Women’s World Cup quarter finals
- Diversity soccer books for kids
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p.s. Related posts:
Sports Specific Book Lists for Kids
Food for the Future: Sustainable Farms Around the World
- Junior Library Guild Gold selection
- Selected as one of 100 Outstanding Picture Books of 2023 by dPICTUS and featured at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair
- Starred review from School Library Journal
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.