Chris Crutcher’s recent visit to the library reminded me how much of an impact his books, and other sports fiction, had on me while I was growing up. Like many kids, I liked to read, but only if the books were about subjects in which I was interested. Unfortunately for me, books on Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster weren’t usually on the teacher’s accepted reading list. Luckily I was usually able to find a sports-related book that could keep me entertained. Unknown to me at the time, these books got me interested in reading and eventually I branched out and moved on to other authors and subjects. However, whenever I run out of things to read, I always know that I can find something in the sports nonfiction section or a sports-themed novel that will both entertain and enlighten. Here are a few of my favorite sports books for young adults.
Speaking of Chris Crutcher, all of his books are highly recommended, but the first one I remember reading is Stotan! Stotan! tells the story of four high school swimmers who are pushed to their physical and emotional limits. Along the way we learn about each of the young men, their relationships, and the problems they encounter. A great book for young adults, but I’m sure most adults would enjoy it also.
Award-winning author Walter Dean Myers tells the story of 17-year-old basketball star who deals with the pressure of growing up in the inner city while trying to make his way to the NBA. A great book for basketball fans, but also a story that is about much more than just sports.
Shoeless Joe by WP Kinsella
While not necessarily written for young adults, Shoeless Joe is a book that baseball fans of any age will enjoy. Best remembered as the basis for the movie Field of Dreams, Shoeless Joe tells the story of an Iowa farmer who builds a baseball field to bring back Shoeless Joe Jackson. While you may know what happens there are many details left out of the movie, such as the world’s oldest living Chicago Cub, not to mention the wonderful writing and depth of character that you can only get from the book.
I like any book by Michael Chabon and I love books about baseball so Summerland seems written especially for me. In Summerland, 11-year-old Ethan is taken through a magical gateway by a mystical baseball scout. This leads to a series of worlds in which Ethan and his team must compete against magical creatures in a series of baseball games. Summerland combines American myth, sweeping fantasy, a coming-of-age story, and baseball into a wonderful book for both young adults and adults alike.