I’m not very knowledgeable about football, but I wanted to learn more by starting a list. But then I found this story about Jasen Bracey:
He lost his vision at age 7. Now 15—and still blind—he’s a starting quarterback.
I love how sports are a backdrop for the stories that showcase drama as well as the best version of humanity. So I’ll be reading these books to add in my own opinion and adding to this list. Can you please help me out? What are your favorite children’s and YA books about football? Thanks so much!
p.s. Have you been following the Washington NFL email scandal?
Washington NFL email scandal: Everything we know so far about investigation that led to Jon Gruden resignation
Gruden is just one piece of a larger puzzle
On Oct. 8, The Wall Street Journal reported that the NFL’s investigation into Washington’s culture included the examination of more than 650,000 emails from team staff. Among those emails were exchanges between Gruden and Bruce Allen, then Washington’s team president and a longtime confidant of Daniel Snyder — one of which saw Gruden use a racial trope to criticize NFLPA executive DeMaurice Smith. On Oct. 11, The New York Times reported that the emails revealed that Gruden had actually engaged in a pattern of “misogynistic and homophobic” language from 2010-2018, criticizing everything from the idea of gay players and female officials, and exchanging pictures of topless Washington cheerleaders.
NFL’s toxicity goes beyond Jon Gruden’s email scandal
The initial investigation — which was aimed at examining multiple allegations, including sexual harassment, surrounding the Washington Football Team — unearthed the 58-year-old coach’s offensive messaged after parsing through roughly 650,000 emails. But only Gruden’s have been released thus far.
“I say you have 650,000 emails and we’re supposed to believe that the scant few that have been released are the only ones that bear offensive content? I have this amazing bridge in Brooklyn that I’ve got to sell you,” Zirin said. from CBS Sports
Congressional Committee to Probe the NFL’s Handling of Gruden Email Scandal
The House Oversight and Reform Committee sent a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Thursday
While there’s no way to know exactly how the NFL will respond to the request from committee chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, it seems more than possible that the league will turn over the 650,000 emails it gathered (but kept secret except for leaks) during the course of investigating the workplace culture in Washington with Daniel Snyder in place as the owner of the D.C. franchise.
The Oversight Committee requested a response by November 4, so the clock is ticking for the NFL to make its play. from Inside Hook
Football Books for Kids
Don’t Throw It to Mo! by David A. Adler
Mo Jackson loves football and he just so happens to be African-American. He’s the smallest one on his football team but that’s because he’s also the youngest. Coach Steve keeps him mostly on the bench with him but he’s training Mo to be their secret weapon. Mo practices catching a buttered football. When a big play is needed, no one expects Mo to catch the ball, but he does! [Level 2 Easy Reader, ages 5 and up]
Kneel by Candace Buford
Review by Ms. Yingling Reads:
“This is a very timely book, and brilliantly incorporates social issues with football in a nicely nuanced story. While Marion’s unfair arrest, Dante Maynard’s death, and the resultant community outrage take center stage, there are undercurrents of the players’ college aspirations, family interactions, and budding romance to bring the political problems close to home. One of my favorite parts was when Russell’s father explains how his own football career, in the 1980s, played out, giving details of racial discrimination that help explain his actions toward his son’s activism. The assignment of If Beale Street Could Talk helps give Russell perspective and assists him in finding his voice.
Other books mentioned in Ms. Yingling Reads review of Kneel:
“While fictional titles Feinstein’s Backfield Boys (2017) and Bradley’s Call Me By My Name (2014) as well as the nonfiction books Attucks!: Oscar Robertson and the Basketball Team That Awakened a City (2018) by Hoose and Strong Inside (2016) by Maraniss all combine sports with discussions of racism, all of the authors are white men.
It’s increasingly important to make sure that the stories of Black characters are told by Black authors, so it’s good to see Buford enter the young adult field with this stirring account of racism set against the background of sports in the south.”
Backfield Boys: A Football Mystery in Black and White by John Feinstein
“On day one, they’re stunned when the coaches make Tom a receiver and Jason a quarterback, a complete contradiction to their skill sets and training. Suspecting deep-seated racial bias, the boys speak out, risking both their scholarships and their chance to play. Soon local newspaper reports begin a secret investigation, and as tensions rise, Jason and Tom must decide how much they’re willing to lose in their quest to expose the ugly remnants of a racist past that still linger in contemporary jock culture.” from the publisher [young adult, ages 12 and up]
Call Me By My Name by John Ed Bradley
“Growing up in Louisiana in the late 1960s, Tater Henry has experienced a lot of prejudice. His town is slow to desegregate and slower still to leave behind deep-seated prejudice.
Despite the town’s sensibilities, Rodney Boulet and his twin sister Angie befriend Tater, and as their friendship grows stronger, Tater and Rodney become an unstoppable force on the football field. That is until Rodney sees Tater and Angie growing closer, too, and Rodney’s world is turned upside down and threatened by a hate he did not know was inside of him.
As the town learns to accept notions like a black quarterback, some changes may be too difficult to accept.” from the publisher [young adult, ages 12 and up]
“By winning the state high school basketball championship in 1955, ten teens from an Indianapolis school meant to be the centerpiece of racially segregated education in the state shattered the myth of their inferiority. Their brilliant coach had fashioned an unbeatable team from a group of boys born in the South and raised in poverty. Anchored by the astonishing Oscar Robertson, a future college and NBA star, the Crispus Attucks Tigers went down in history as the first state champions from Indianapolis and the first all-black team in U.S. history to win a racially open championship tournament―an integration they had forced with their on-court prowess.” from the publisher [young adult, ages 12 and up]
Sidelined by Kara Bietz
“Julian is looking forward to his senior year in Meridien, Texas. He wants to play football and hopefully get scouted for a college scholarship. He’s been living with Grandma Birdie since the death of his father, who also played football and had been hoping to set up a community center for kids in town. When his grandmother has a “surprise guest” for him, he never thinks that it will be Elijah. Elijah and his family moved away suddenly several years before, and Julian was devastated not only because the two had been friends for a long time, but because he hoped that after the two shared a kiss, they might be more than friends. Now, Elijah is back at school and living with Birdie and Julian until his mother, teenage sister, and her baby can move to town. Elijah’s father is in prison, and everyone in the small town suspects that Elijah is just like his father. Since he was accused of trying to steal fundraiser money before his family left town, it’s a hard thing to shake. However, he’s not like his father, and he’s a bit upset that in his absence, Julian had a boyfriend, Reece. When Elijah gets back on the football team, there is some tension. One of the issues is that the team always pranks their rival school before the big game, and Julian wants to put an end to this tradition because he thinks his father would want that, but when he finds out the truth about his father, things become complicated. Can Elijah and Julian navigate their shared history and find a way to go forward?
What About Will by Ellen Hopkins
Review by Ms. Yingling Reads:
“Trace’s brother Will is five years older than he is. He was a football player until he was involved in a bad tackle that left him with a facial nerve injury, anger management issues, and lots of pain. This lead to depression and deepened the rift between the boys’ parents. Their mother fronts a band and had a decent amount of success, and their dad works security in a casino near their home in Las Vegas, and when the problems with Will got bad, their mother left the family and went on tour. It’s been a year since the divorce, and Trace spends a lot of his time at home alone. His father works, and Will leaves without much explanation. Will does have some friends and plays on a baseball team, but he misses his mother and the way their family used to be. When a new girl, Cat, joins the team, some of his teammates are against a girl playing, but after a rocky start, Trace realizes that he and Cat share a lot of interests, and also each has some family problems that they don’t share with everyone. Cat’s older brother has run away from home, and she’s moved to Las Vegas with another brother and her father, who is a fairly famous former baseball player. Her mother is staying in California in case her brother comes home. Cat does well on the team, and she and Trace start a solid friendship. Trace is the only one who sees that his brother is becoming more withdrawn, and seems to be getting into drugs, based on his furtive actions, new friends, and frequent odd demeanor. Trace wants to tell his father but is afraid that he will then fight with Will. He does confide a bit in neighbor Mr. Cobb, who served in Vietnam, and tells Will about some of his experiences in the war, and about his career as a nurse, and encourages Trace to tell his father about his brother’s behavior. Even though it escalates to the point where Will steals money from Trace and even takes his baseball glove that Cat’s father signed, Trace is reluctant to share this, especially since his father is dating Lily, who works at the senior facility where his grandfather lives. Trace does reach out to his mother, but she brushes him off, promising to visit when it is clear that she won’t. When Will’s behavior puts him in a life and death situation, will Trace finally be able to let his family know what is going on, and will they be able to pull together to help Will get through?” [middle grade, ages 10 and up]
p.s. Related posts:
Sports Specific Book Lists for Kids
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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.