I played sports in middle and high school, and I’ll forever be itching for YA books about sports that feature what I excelled in: badminton. Not the kind you play in your backyard at a party. But the kind where you run more than anyone on a football field. The kind where you fall harder than in most other sports. The kind where it gets ultra competitive very quickly. If it’s anything like when I was a high schooler, though, only a handful of states have interscholastic badminton, and frankly, that’s such a bummer because there is so much great drama to be had with it in a novel.
That said, YA books about sports are some of my favorites. I love the intensity of gameplay and competition which pairs with the other aspects of being a teenager to heighten a plot. And YA sports books are fun, no matter what the major sport at the center of the characters’ lives is—I’ve learned so much about things like football and running that I never knew before (and in books like Ariel Kaplan’s We Are The Perfect Girl, which I’d call a sports-adjacent book since it’s a small, rather than significant, part of the story, lesser-known sports like rowing offer a window into something those who don’t have a vested interest in likely don’t know much about at all).
There certainly are underrepresented sports in YA. There’s little, if any, cricket in books that are written by U.S. authors and set in the U.S. Volleyball is surprisingly rare. Golf, bowling, field hockey, and water polo are also challenging to find (you can check Hooked by Liz Fichera for golf and Siobhan Vivian’s 2020 book We Are The Wildcats for field hockey).
Likewise, it’s challenging still to find YA books about sports featuring teens of color. Certainly, there are a good number included on this list, but, it remains underrepresented in a number of arenas—there is a distinct lack of Latinx teens, for example, excelling in soccer in YA, despite the fact they do in the world around us, as seen from my own time working in libraries with teens.
Sports books are for every reader. Whether or not you have a connection to the sport that’s central to the story, the bigger themes within these books will resonate.
Limitations aside, these 50 YA books about sports are must-reads. I’ve included an array of titles, stories, and sports, spanning everything from ice skating to basketball, dancing to tennis, and so much more. Included are fiction and nonfiction, as well as comics. Because a number of these books are part of a series, I’ve indicated that with a “*” so you can expand your reading even more.
Descriptions from Amazon.
Must-Read YA Books About Sports
After The Shot Drops by Randy Ribay
Bunny and Nasir have been best friends forever, but when Bunny accepts an athletic scholarship across town, Nasir feels betrayed. While Bunny tries to fit in with his new, privileged peers, Nasir spends more time with his cousin, Wallace, who is being evicted. Nasir can’t help but wonder why the neighborhood is falling over itself to help Bunny when Wallace is in trouble.
When Wallace makes a bet against Bunny, Nasir is faced with an impossible decision—maybe a dangerous one.
Told from alternating perspectives, After the Shot Drops is a heart-pounding story about the responsibilities of great talent and the importance of compassion.
Another Kind of Cowboy by Susan Juby
For Alex Ford, dressage is an oasis. In the stable, he can slip into his riding pants, shed the macho cowboy image, and feel like himself for a change.
For Cleo O’Shea, dressage is a fresh start. She’s got a new boarding school, absentee parents, and, best of all, no one to remember her past. . . .
They’re an unlikely pair. Cleo’s looking for love, but Alex has a secret he’s not ready to give up, and a flirtation with Cleo is the last thing on his mind. But you can’t find romance before you know real friendship, and sometimes the last person you’d ever think of as a friend ends up being the one you need the most.
The Art of Holding On and Letting Go by Kristin Bartley Lenz
Competitive climber Cara Jenkins feels most at home high off the ground, clinging to a rock wall by the tips of her fingers. She has enjoyed a roaming life with her mountaineering parents, making the natural world her jungle gym and making the writings of Annie Dillard and Henry David Thoreau her textbooks. But when tragedy strikes on an Ecuadoran mountaintop, Cara’s nomadic lifestyle comes to an abrupt halt. Starting over at her grandparents’ home in suburban Detroit, Cara embarks on a year of discovery, uncovering unknown strengths, friendships, and first love. Cara’s journey illustrates the transformative power of nature, love and loss, and discovering that home can be far from where you started.
Beautiful Broken Hearts by Kami Garcia
Her heart has to break before it can open.
When star soccer player Peyton Rios receives an offer from her first-choice college, senior year starts off exactly as planned. But when Peyton uncovers her boyfriend’s dark secret, she confronts him―and finds herself falling down a flight of stairs. Peyton’s knee―and maybe her dream of going pro―is shattered. Everyone is talking: Was she pushed, or did she fall? Peyton knows the truth, even if no one believes her.
He has to let someone in before it’s too late.
With her future on the line, Peyton goes to stay with her uncle in a small Tennessee town to focus on her recovery. Dating is the last thing on her mind―until she meets sweet, sexy Owen Law.
But Peyton doesn’t trust her heart, especially when she senses that Owen is hiding something. When their secrets are finally exposed, Peyton has to decide if love is worth fighting for.
Becoming Kareem: Growing Up On and Off the Court by Kareem Abdul Jabbar
At one time, Lew Alcindor was just another kid from New York City with all the usual problems: He struggled with fitting in, with pleasing a strict father, and with overcoming shyness that made him feel socially awkward. But with a talent for basketball, and an unmatched team of supporters, Lew Alcindor was able to transform and to become Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
From a childhood made difficult by racism and prejudice to a record-smashing career on the basketball court as an adult, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s life was packed with “coaches” who taught him right from wrong and led him on the path to greatness. His parents, coaches Jack Donahue and John Wooden, Muhammad Ali, Bruce Lee, and many others played important roles in Abdul-Jabbar’s life and sparked him to become an activist for social change and advancement. The inspiration from those around him, and his drive to find his own path in life, are highlighted in this personal and awe-inspiring journey.
Written especially for young readers, Becoming Kareem chronicles how Kareem Abdul-Jabbar become the icon and legend he is today, both on and off the court.
The Berlin Boxing Club by Robert Sharenow
Karl Stern has never thought of himself as a Jew; after all, he’s never even been in a synagogue. But the bullies at his school in Nazi-era Berlin don’t care that Karl’s family doesn’t practice religion. Demoralized by their attacks against a heritage he doesn’t accept as his own, Karl longs to prove his worth.
Then Max Schmeling, champion boxer and German hero, makes a deal with Karl’s father to give Karl boxing lessons. A skilled cartoonist, Karl has never had an interest in boxing, but now it seems like the perfect chance to reinvent himself.
But when Nazi violence against Jews escalates, Karl must take on a new role: family protector. And as Max’s fame forces him to associate with Nazi elites, Karl begins to wonder where his hero’s sympathies truly lie. Can Karl balance his boxing dreams with his obligation to keep his family out of harm’s way?
*Blacktop by LJ Alonge
Justin has a list of goals stashed under his mattress. Number 1 is “figure out life plans.” Number 5 is “earn Zen Master rating in WoW.” Nowhere on that list is “play the crew from Ghosttown,” but that’s the type of trouble that always seems to finds him.
The debut title from LJ Alonge’s new basketball series pulses with action on and off the court. With wit, humor, and honesty, Justin unfolds over one hot summer.
Bruised by Sarah Skilton
When Imogen, a sixteen-year-old black belt in Tae Kwon Do, freezes during a holdup at a local diner, the gunman is shot and killed by the police, and she blames herself for his death. Before the shooting, she believed that her black belt made her stronger than everyone else―more responsible, more capable. But now that her sense of self has been challenged, she must rebuild her life, a process that includes redefining her relationship with her family and navigating first love with the boy who was at the diner with her during the shoot-out. With action, romance, and a complex heroine, Bruised introduces a vibrant new voice to the young adult world―full of dark humor and hard truths.
Catalyst by Laurie Halse Anderson
Meet Kate Malone-straight A science and math geek, minister’s daughter, ace long-distance runner, girlfriend, unwilling family caretaker, emotional avoidance champion. Kate manages her life by organizing it, as logically as the periodic table. She can handle it all-or so she thinks. Then, like a string of chemical reactions, everything happens: the Malones’ neighbors get burned out of their home and move in. Because her father is a Good Man of God (and a Not Very Thoughtful Parent), Kate has to share her room with her nemesis, Teri Litch, and Teri’s adorable, troublemaking little brother. And through it all, she’s still waiting to hear from the only college she has applied to: MIT. Kate’s life is less and less under control-and then, something happens that blows it all apart, and forces her to examine her life, self, and heart for the first time. Set in the same community as the remarkable Speak, Catalyst is a novel that will make you think, laugh, cry, and rejoice-sometimes at the same time.
*Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally
ONE OF THE BOYS
What girl doesn’t want to be surrounded by gorgeous jocks day in and day out? Jordan Woods isn’t just surrounded by hot guys, though–she leads them as the captain and quarterback of her high school football team. They all see her as one of the guys and that’s just fine. As long as she gets her athletic scholarship to a powerhouse university.
But everything she’s ever worked for is threatened when Ty Green moves to her school. Not only is he an amazing QB, but he’s also amazingly hot. And for the first time, Jordan’s feeling vulnerable. Can she keep her head in the game while her heart’s on the line?
*Check Please by Ngozi Ukazu
Eric Bittle may be a former junior figure skating champion, vlogger extraordinaire, and very talented amateur pâtissier, but being a freshman on the Samwell University hockey team is a whole new challenge. It is nothing like co-ed club hockey back in Georgia! First of all? There’s checking (anything that hinders the player with possession of the puck, ranging from a stick check all the way to a physical sweep). And then, there is Jack―his very attractive but moody captain.
A collection of the first half, freshmen and sophomore year, of the megapopular webcomic series of the same name, Check, Please!: #Hockey is the first book of a hilarious and stirring two-volume coming-of-age story about hockey, bros, and trying to find yourself during the best four years of your life. This book includes updated art and a hilarious, curated selection of Bitty’s beloved tweets.
The Contender by Robert Lipsyte
Alfred Brooks is scared. He’s a high-school dropout, and his grocery store job is leading nowhere. His best friend is sinking further and further into drug addiction. Some street kids are after him for something he didn’t even do.
So Alfred begins going to Donatelli’s Gym, a boxing club in Harlem that has trained champions. There he learns it’s the effort, not the win, that makes the boxer—that before you can be a champion, you have to be a contender.
Cold Day In The Sun by Sara Biran
Holland Delviss wants to be known for her talent as a hockey player, not a hockey player who happens to be a girl. But when her school team is selected to be featured and televised as part of HockeyFest, her status as the only girl on the boys’ team makes her the lead story. Not everyone is thrilled with Holland’s new fame, but there’s one person who fiercely supports her, and it’s the last person she expects (and definitely the last person she should be falling for): her bossy team captain, Wes.
*The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
“With a bolt of lightning on my kicks . . .The court is SIZZLING. My sweat is DRIZZLING. Stop all that quivering. Cuz tonight I’m delivering,” announces dread-locked, 12-year old Josh Bell. He and his twin brother Jordan are awesome on the court. But Josh has more than basketball in his blood, he’s got mad beats, too, that tell his family’s story in verse, in this fast and furious middle grade novel of family and brotherhood from Kwame Alexander.
Josh and Jordan must come to grips with growing up on and off the court to realize breaking the rules comes at a terrible price, as their story’s heart-stopping climax proves a game-changer for the entire family.
*The Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdoch
When you don’t talk, there’s a lot of stuff that ends up not getting said.
Harsh words indeed, from Brian Nelson of all people. But, D. J. can’t help admitting, maybe he’s right.
When you don’t talk, there’s a lot of stuff that ends up not getting said.
Stuff like why her best friend, Amber, isn’t so friendly anymore. Or why her little brother, Curtis, never opens his mouth. Why her mom has two jobs and a big secret. Why her college-football-star brothers won’t even call home. Why her dad would go ballistic if she tried out for the high school football team herself. And why Brian is so, so out of her league.
When you don’t talk, there’s a lot of stuff that ends up not getting said.
Welcome to the summer that fifteen-year-old D. J. Schwenk of Red Bend, Wisconsin, learns to talk, and ends up having an awful lot of stuff to say.
Derby Girl by Shauna Cross
Meet Bliss Cavendar, a blue haired, indie-rock loving misfit stuck in the tiny town of Bodeen, Texas.
Her pageant-addicted mother expects her to compete for the coveted Miss Blue Bonnet crown, but Bliss would rather feast on roaches than be subjected to such rhinestone tyranny.
Bliss’ escape? Take up Roller Derby.
When she discovers a league in nearby Austin, Bliss embarks on an epic journey full of hilarious tattooed girls, delicious boys in bands, and a few not-so-awesome realities even the most bad-assed derby chick has to learn.
Dodge City by Josh Trujillo
Life comes at you fast, but dodgeballs come way faster! Tomás is a teenage misfit, but when he joins the Jazz Pandas dodgeball team, he’s thrown into a family of oddballs and outcasts who are willing to do whatever it takes to win the summer regional dodgeball championships. Through a season of highs, lows, and blows to the face, Tomás might finally find a place where he truly belongs, and the person inside himself he didn’t know he could be.
*The Final Four by Paul Volponi
Four players with one thing in common: the will to win
Malcolm wants to get to the NBA ASAP. Roko wants to be the pride of his native Croatia. Crispin wants the girl of his dreams. M.J. just wants a chance.
March Madness is in full swing, and there are only four teams left in the NCAA basketball championship. The heavily favored Michigan Spartans and the underdog Troy Trojans meet in the first game in the semifinals, and it’s there that the fates of Malcolm, Roko, Crispin, and M.J. intertwine. As the last moments tick down on the game clock, you’ll learn how each player went from being a kid who loved to shoot hoops to a powerful force in one of the most important games of the year. Which team will leave the Superdome victorious? In the end it will come down to which players have the most skill, the most drive, and the most heart.
First and Then by Emma Mills
Devon Tennyson wouldn’t change a thing. She’s happy silently crushing on best friend Cas, and blissfully ignoring the future after high school. But the universe has other plans. It delivers Devon’s cousin Foster, an unrepentant social outlier with a surprising talent, and the obnoxiously superior and maddeningly attractive jock, Ezra, right where she doesn’t want them–first into her P.E. class and then into every other aspect of her life.
With wit, heart, and humor to spare, First & Then is a contemporary novel about falling in love–with the unexpected boy, with a new brother, and with yourself.
Game Change by Joseph Monninger
Seventeen-year-old Zeb Holloway is happy to work in his uncle’s auto repair shop and cruise through school without much effort. He’s a quarterback on his high school’s undefeated football team, but he never plays. Why would he when T.T. Munroe—a walking, talking highlight reel—is around? That is, until T.T’s injured a week before the state championships.
Now Zeb is starting. As he assumes the role of QB and team leader, the entire town is watching him. And when a college recruiter says Zeb could have a future beyond his small New Hampshire town, he realizes there’s a bigger life out there for him . . . if he can play his heart out.
Girl Against The Universe by Paula Stokes
Sixteen-year-old Maguire knows the universe is against her. No matter how many charms she buys off the internet or good luck rituals she performs each morning, horrible things happen when she’s around. Like that time the roller coaster jumped off its tracks. Or the time her brother, father, and uncle were all killed in a car crash–and Maguire walked away with barely a scratch. Despite what her therapist tells her, Maguire thinks it’s best to hide out in her room, far away from anyone she might accidentally hurt. But then she meets Jordy, an aspiring tennis star who wants to help her break her unlucky streak. Maguire knows that the best thing she can do for him is to stay away, but it turns out staying away may be harder than she thought.
Girl Overboard by Justina Chen
Everybody thinks Syrah is the golden girl. After all, her father is Ethan Cheng, billionaire, and she has everything any kid could possibly desire: a waterfront mansion, jet plane, and custom-designed snowboards. But most of what glitters in her life is fool’s gold. Her half-siblings hate her, her best friend’s girlfriend is ruining their friendship, and her own so-called boyfriend is only after her for her father’s name. When her broken heart results in a snowboarding accident that exiles her from the mountains-the one place where she feels free and accepted for who she is, not what she has-can Syrah rehab both her busted-up knee, and her broken heart?
Girl Out Of Water by Laura Silverman
Ocean breeze in her hair and sand between her toes, Anise can’t wait to spend the summer before her senior year surfing and hanging out on the beach with friends. Santa Cruz is more than her home-it’s her heart. But when her aunt, a single mother, is in a serious car accident, Anise must say goodbye to California to help care for her three young cousins.
Landlocked Nebraska is the last place Anise wants to be. Sure, she loves her family, but it’s hard to put her past behind her when she’s living in the childhood house of the mother who abandoned her. And with every Instagram post, her friends back home feel further away.
Then she meets Lincoln, a charismatic, one-armed skater who challenges her to swap her surfboard for a skateboard. Because sometimes the only way to find your footing is to let go.
Gym Candy by Carl Deuker
“Look, Mick,” he said, “you’re going to find out from somebody in the gym, so you might as well find out from me. Those supplements you’re taking? They might get you a little bigger, but just a little. If you’re after serious results, there’s other stuff that produces better results much faster, stuff that a lot of guys in the gym use.” “What other stuff?” “You know what I’m talking about—gym candy.”
Runningback Mick Johnson has dreams: dreams of cutting back, finding the hole, breaking into the open, and running free with nothing but green grass ahead. He has dreams of winning and of being the best. But football is a cruel sport. It requires power, grace, speed, quickness, and knowledge of the game. It takes luck, too. One crazy bounce can turn a likely victory into sudden defeat. What elite athlete wouldn’t look for an edge? A way to make him bigger, stronger, faster?
The Heartbeats of Wing Jones by Katherine Webber
Wing Jones, like everyone else in her town, has worshipped her older brother, Marcus, for as long as she can remember. Good-looking, popular, and the star of the football team, Marcus is everything his sister is not.
Until the night everything changes when Marcus, drunk at the wheel after a party, kills two people and barely survives himself. With Marcus now in a coma, Wing is crushed, confused, and angry. She is tormented at school for Marcus’s mistake, haunted at home by her mother and grandmothers’ grief. In addition to all this, Wing is scared that the bank is going to repossess her home because her family can’t afford Marcus’s mounting medical bills.
Every night, unable to sleep, Wing finds herself sneaking out to go to the school’s empty track. When Aaron, Marcus’s best friend, sees her running one night, he recognizes that her speed, skill, and agility could get her spot on the track team. And better still, an opportunity at a coveted sponsorship from a major athletic gear company. Wing can’t pass up the opportunity to train with her longtime crush and to help her struggling family, but can she handle being thrust out of Marcus’s shadow and into the spotlight?
Here To Stay by Sara Farizan
Bijan Majidi is:
- Shy around girls
- Really into comics
- Decent at basketball
Bijan Majidi is not:
- A terrorist
What happens when a kid who’s flown under the radar for most of high school gets pulled off the bench to make the winning basket in a varsity playoff game?
If his name is Bijan Majidi, life is suddenly high fives in the hallways and invitations to exclusive parties—along with an anonymous photo sent by a school cyberbully that makes Bijan look like a terrorist.
The administration says they’ll find and punish the culprit. Bijan wants to pretend it never happened. He’s not ashamed of his Middle Eastern heritage; he just doesn’t want to be a poster child for Islamophobia. Lots of classmates rally around Bijan. Others make it clear they don’t want him or anybody who looks like him at their school. But it’s not always easy to tell your enemies from your friends.
Heroine by Mindy McGinnis
When a car crash sidelines Mickey just before softball season, she has to find a way to hold on to her spot as the catcher for a team expected to make a historic tournament run. Behind the plate is the only place she’s ever felt comfortable, and the painkillers she’s been prescribed can help her get there.
The pills do more than take away pain; they make her feel good.
With a new circle of friends—fellow injured athletes, others with just time to kill—Mickey finds peaceful acceptance, and people with whom words come easily, even if it is just the pills loosening her tongue.
But as the pressure to be Mickey Catalan heightens, her need increases, and it becomes less about pain and more about want, something that could send her spiraling out of control.
Home And Away by Candice Montgomery
Tasia Quirk is young, Black, and fabulous. She’s a senior, she’s got great friends, and a supportive and wealthy family. She even plays football as the only girl on her private high school’s team.
But when she catches her mamma trying to stuff a mysterious box in the closet, her identity is suddenly called into question. Now Tasia’s determined to unravel the lies that have overtaken her life. Along the way, she discovers what family and forgiveness really mean, and that her answers don’t come without a fee. An artsy bisexual boy from the Valley could help her find them―but only if she stops fighting who she is, beyond the color of her skin.
*Honey Girl by Lisa Freeman
The year is 1972. Fifteen-year-old Haunani “Nani” Grace Nuuhiwa is transplanted from her home in Hawaii to Santa Monica, California after her father’s fatal heart attack. Now the proverbial fish-out-of-water, Nani struggles to adjust to her new life with her alcoholic white (haole) mother and the lineup of mean girls who rule State Beach.
Following “The Rules”—an unspoken list of dos and don’ts—Nani makes contact with Rox, the leader of the lineup. Through a harrowing series of initiations, Nani not only gets accepted into the lineup, she gains the attention of surf god, Nigel McBride. But maintaining stardom is harder than achieving it. Nani is keeping several secrets that, if revealed, could ruin everything she’s worked so hard to achieve. Secret #1: She’s stolen her dad’s ashes and hidden them from her mom. Secret #2: In order to get in with Rox and her crew, she spied on them and now knows far more than they could ever let her get away with. And most deadly of all, Secret #3: She likes girls, and may very well be in love with Rox.
Hoops by Walter Dean Myers
All eyes are on seventeen-year-old Lonnie Jackson while he practices with his team for a city-wide basketball Tournament of Champions. His coach, Cal, knows Lonnie has what it takes to be a pro basketball player, but warns him about giving in to the pressure. Cal knows because he, too, once had the chance—but sold out.
As the tournament nears, Lonnie learns that some heavy bettors want Cal to keep him on the bench so that the team will lose the championship. As the last seconds of the game tick away, Lonnie and Cal must make a decision. Are they willing to blow the chance of a lifetime?
Mexican White Boy by Matt de la Peña
Danny’s tall and skinny. Even though he’s not built, his arms are long enough to give his pitch a power so fierce any college scout would sign him on the spot. Ninety-five mile an hour fastball, but the boy’s not even on a team. Every time he gets up on the mound he loses it.
But at his private school, they don’t expect much else from him. Danny’ s brown. Half-Mexican brown. And growing up in San Diego that close to the border means everyone else knows exactly who he is before he even opens his mouth. Before they find out he can’t speak Spanish, and before they realize his mom has blond hair and blue eyes, they’ve got him pegged. But it works the other way too. And Danny’s convinced it’s his whiteness that sent his father back to Mexico.
That’s why he’s spending the summer with his dad’s family. Only, to find himself, he may just have to face the demons he refuses to see–the demons that are right in front of his face. And open up to a friendship he never saw coming.
Now Is The Time for Running by Michael Williams
Just down the road from their families, Deo and his friends play soccer in the dusty fields of Zimbabwe, cheered on by Deo’s older brother, Innocent. It is a day like any other . . . until the soldiers arrive and Deo and Innocent are forced to run for their lives, fleeing the wreckage of their village for the distant promise of safe haven. Along the way, they face the prejudice and poverty that await refugees everywhere, and must rely on the kindness of people they meet to make it through. But when tragedy strikes, Deo’s love of soccer is all he has left. Can he use that gift to find hope once more?
On The Road to Find Out by Rachel Toor
On New Year’s Day, Alice Davis goes for a run. Her first ever. It’s painful and embarrassing, but so was getting denied by the only college she cares about. Alice knows she has to stop sitting around and complaining to her best friend, Jenni, and her pet rat, Walter, about what a loser she is. But what she doesn’t know is that by taking those first steps out the door, she is setting off down a road filled with new challenges―including vicious side stitches, chafing in unmentionable places, and race-paced first love―and strengthening herself to endure when the going suddenly gets tougher than she ever imagined.
Out of Nowhere by Maria Padian
Out of Nowhere follows Tom Bouchard: captain and star of the Enniston High School soccer team; boyfriend to one of the prettiest, most popular girls; and third in his class, likely to have his pick of any college (if he ever bothers filling out his applications). But life in his idyllic small Maine town quickly gets turned upside down after the events of 9/11.
Enniston has become a “secondary migration” location for Somali refugees seeking a better life after their country is destroyed by war. Tom hasn’t thought much about his Somali classmates until four of them join the soccer team, including Saeed. He comes out of nowhere on the field to make impossible shots, and suddenly the team is winning, dominating even.
But when Saeed’s eligibility is questioned and Tom screws up in a big way, he’s left to grapple with a culture he doesn’t understand and take responsibility for his actions. The refugees came out of nowhere and vanish just as quickly. And Tom may find himself going nowhere, too, if he doesn’t start trying to get somewhere.
Out of The Pocket by Bill Konigsberg
Star quarterback Bobby Framingham, one of the most talented high school football players in California, knows he?s different from his teammates. They?re like brothers, but they don?t know one essential thing: Bobby is gay. Can he still be one of the guys and be honest about who he is? When he?s outed against his will by a student reporter, Bobby must find a way to earn back his teammates? trust and accept that his path to success might be more public, and more difficult, than he?d hoped. An affecting novel about identity that also delivers great sportswriting.
*Peak by Roland Smith
After fourteen-year-old Peak Marcello is arrested for scaling a New York City skyscraper, he’s left with two choices: wither away in Juvenile Detention or go live with his long-lost father, who runs a climbing company in Thailand. But Peak quickly learns that his father’s renewed interest in him has strings attached. Big strings. As owner of Peak Expeditions, he wants his son to be the youngest person to reach the Everest summit–and his motives are selfish at best. Even so, for a climbing addict like Peak, tackling Everest is the challenge of a lifetime. But it’s also one that could cost him his life.
The Penalty by Mal Peet
As the city of San Juan pulses to summer’s sluggish beat, its teenage soccer prodigy, El Brujito, the Little Magician, vanishes without a trace — right after he misses a penalty kick and loses a big game for his team. Paul Faustino, South America’s top sports reporter, is reluctantly drawn into the mystery of the athlete’s disappearance. As a story of corruption and murder unfolds, Faustino is forced to confront the bitter history of slavery and the power of the occult. A deftly woven mystery flush with soccer and suspense, this gripping novel is a thrilling read not to be missed.
Pick-Up Game edited by Marc Aronson and Charles Smith Jr.
It’s one steamy July day at the West 4th Street Court in NYC, otherwise known as The Cage. Hotshot ESPN is wooing the scouts, Boo is struggling to guard the weird new guy named Waco, a Spike Lee wannabe has video rolling, and virgin Irene is sizing up six-foot-eightand-a-half-inch Chester. Nine of YA literature’s top writers, including Walter Dean Myers, Rita Williams-Garcia, Adam Rapp, Joseph Bruchac, and Sharon Flake reveal how it all goes down in a searing collection of short stories, in which each one picks up where the previous one ends. Characters weave in and out of narratives, perspectives change, and emotions play out for a fluid and fast-paced ode to the game. Crackling with humor, grit, and streetball philosophy, and featuring poems and photographs by Charles R. Smith Jr., this anthology is a slam dunk.
Pinned by Sharon G. Flake
Autumn and Adonis have nothing in common and everything in common. Autumn is outgoing and has lots of friends. Adonis is shy and not so eager to connect with people. But even with their differences, the two have one thing in common–they’re each dealing with a handicap. For Autumn, who has a learning disability, reading is a painful struggle that makes it hard to focus in class. But as her school’s most aggressive team wrestler, Autumn can take down any problem. Adonis uses a wheelchair. He has no legs. He can’t walk or dance. But he’s a strong reader who loves books. Even so, Adonis has a secret he knows someone like Autumn can heal.
In time, Autumn and Adonis are forced to see that our greatest weaknesses can turn into the assets that forever change us and those we love.
Pinned by Alfred C. Martino
Ivan Korske and Bobby Zane couldn’t be more different—they come from different backgrounds, different lifestyles, and they have very different values and ways of looking at the world and dealing with people. Yet they both have the drive, determination, and commitment to self-sacrifice necessary to become a champion. In the end, though, only one will stand in the center of the mat with his arms raised in victory.
Has each boy prepared enough? Sacrificed enough? Does each want to win enough? All the training, pain, running, and cutting weight ultimately comes down to a few short minutes on a wrestling mat–leaving one boy the victor, the other devastated.
Pointe by Brandy Colbert
Theo is better now.
She’s eating again, dating guys who are almost appropriate, and well on her way to becoming an elite ballet dancer. But when her oldest friend, Donovan, returns home after spending four long years with his kidnapper, Theo starts reliving memories about his abduction—and his abductor.
Donovan isn’t talking about what happened, and even though Theo knows she didn’t do anything wrong, telling the truth would put everything she’s been living for at risk. But keeping quiet might be worse.
*The Prodigy by John Feinstein
Seventeen-year-old Frank Baker is a golfing sensation. He’s set to earn a full-ride scholarship to play at the university of his choice, but his single dad wants him to skip college and turn pro―golf has taken its toll on the family bank account, and his dad is eager to start cashing in on his son’s prowess. Frank knows he isn’t ready for life on the pro tour―regardless of the potential riches―so his swing coach enlists a professional golfer turned journalist to be Frank’s secret adviser.
Pressure mounts when, after reaching the final of the U.S. Amateur tournament, Frank wins an automatic invite to the Masters. And when the prodigy, against all odds, starts tearing up the course at Augusta National, sponsors are lined up to throw money at him―and his father. But Frank’s entry in the Masters hinges on maintaining his standing as an amateur. Can he and his secret adviser―who has his own conflicts―keep Frank’s dad at bay long enough to bring home the legendary green jacket?
Running With Lions by Julian Winters
Bloomington High School Lions’ star goalie Sebastian Hughes should be excited about his senior year: His teammates are amazing, and he’s got a coach who doesn’t ask anyone to hide their sexuality. But when his estranged childhood-best-friend Emir Shah shows up at summer training camp, Sebastian realizes the team’s success may end up in the hands of the one guy who hates him. Determined to reconnect with Emir for the sake of the Lions, he sets out to regain Emir’s trust. But to Sebastian’s surprise, sweaty days on the pitch, wandering the town’s streets, and bonding on the weekends spark more than just friendship between them.
A Season of Daring Greatly by Ellen Emerson White
Eighteen-year-old Jill Cafferty just made history. Her high school’s star pitcher, she is now the first woman drafted by a major league baseball team. Only days after her high school graduation, she’ll join the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Class A Short Season team . . . but not everyone is happy to have her there.
On top of the pressure heaped on every pitcher, Jill must deal with defying conventions and living up to impossible expectations, all while living away from home for the first time. She’ll go head-to-head against those who are determined to keep baseball an all-male sport. Despite the reassurance of coaches and managers alike, a few of her teammates are giving her trouble. The media presence following her at each game is inescapable. And to top it all off, Jill is struggling with the responsibilities of being a national hero and a role model for young women everywhere. How can she be a role model when she’s not even sure she made the right choice for herself? Didn’t baseball used to be fun?
The Sky Between You and Me by Catherine Alene
Lighter. Leaner. Faster.
Raesha will to do whatever it takes to win Nationals. For her, competing isn’t just about the speed of her horse or the thrill of the win. It’s about honoring her mother’s memory and holding onto a dream they once shared.
Lighter. Leaner. Faster.
For an athlete, every second counts. Raesha knows minus five on the scale will let her sit deeper in her saddle, make her horse lighter on his feet. And lighter, leaner, faster gives her the edge she needs over the new girl on the team, a girl who keeps flirting with Raesha’s boyfriend and making plans with her best friend.
So she focuses on minus five. But if she isn’t careful, she’s going to lose more than just the people she loves, she’s going to lose herself to lighter, leaner, faster…
Spinning by Tillie Walden
It was the same every morning. Wake up, grab the ice skates, and head to the rink while the world was still dark.
Weekends were spent in glitter and tights at competitions. Perform. Smile. And do it again.
She was good. She won. And she hated it.
For ten years, figure skating was Tillie Walden’s life. She woke before dawn for morning lessons, went straight to group practice after school, and spent weekends competing at ice rinks across the state. Skating was a central piece of her identity, her safe haven from the stress of school, bullies, and family. But as she switched schools, got into art, and fell in love with her first girlfriend, she began to question how the close-minded world of figure skating fit in with the rest of her life, and whether all the work was worth it given the reality: that she, and her friends on the team, were nowhere close to Olympic hopefuls. The more Tillie thought about it, the more Tillie realized she’d outgrown her passion―and she finally needed to find her own voice.
*Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach
I AM NOT STUPID FUNNY.
I AM STUPID FAST.
My name is Felton Reinstein, which is not a fast name. But last November, my voice finally dropped and I grew all this hair and then I got stupid fast. Fast like a donkey. Zing!
Now they want me, the guy they used to call Squirrel Nut, to try out for the football team. With the jocks. But will that fix my mom? Make my brother stop dressing like a pirate? Most important, will it get me girls-especially Aleah?
So I train. And I run. And I sneak off to Aleah’s house in the night. But deep down I know I can’t run forever. And I wonder what will happen when I finally have to stop.
Sumo by Thien Pham
Scott is a washed-up football player who never made it, and whose girlfriend abandoned him along with his dreams of playing pro football. But things have a way of working out, in this sweet, poetic tale–and a new chapter in Scott’s life begins as the old one ends. Offered a position in a Japanese sumo training “stable,” Scott abandons his old life, his old name, and even his old hair color, and becomes an aspiring sumo wrestler. And in so doing, he begins to find some kind of center in himself…a center that had seemed lost for good.
Taking Flight by Michaela DePrince
Michaela DePrince was known as girl Number 27 at the orphanage, where she was abandoned at a young age and tormented as a “devil child” for a skin condition that makes her skin appear spotted. But it was at the orphanage that Michaela would find a picture of a beautiful ballerina en pointe that would help change the course of her life.
At the age of four, Michaela was adopted by an American family, who encouraged her love of dancing and enrolled her in classes. She went on to study at the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at the American Ballet Theatre and is now the youngest principal dancer with the Dance Theatre of Harlem. She has appeared in the ballet documentary First Position, as well as on Dancing with the Stars, Good Morning America, and Nightline.
In this engaging, moving, and unforgettable memoir, Michaela shares her dramatic journey from an orphan in West Africa to becoming one of ballet’s most exciting rising stars.
*Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton
Gigi, Bette, and June, three top students at an exclusive Manhattan ballet school, have seen their fair share of drama. Free-spirited new girl Gigi just wants to dance—but the very act might kill her. Privileged New Yorker Bette’s desire to escape the shadow of her ballet-star sister brings out a dangerous edge in her. And perfectionist June needs to land a lead role this year or her controlling mother will put an end to her dancing dreams forever.
When every dancer is both friend and foe, the girls will sacrifice, manipulate, and backstab to be the best of the best.
Tumbling by Caela Carter
Work harder than anyone.
Be the most talented.
And if you’re lucky, maybe you will go to the Olympics.
Grace lives and breathes gymnastics—but no matter how hard she pushes herself, she can never be perfect enough.
Leigh, Grace’s best friend, has it all: a gymnastics career, a normal high-school life… and a secret that could ruin everything.
Camille wants to please her mom, wants to please her boyfriend, and most of all, wants to walk away.
Wilhelmina was denied her Olympic dream four years ago, and she won’t let anything stop her again. No matter what.
Monica is terrified. Nobody believes in her—and why should they?
By the end of the two days of the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Trials, some of these girls will be stars. Some will be going home with nothing. And all will have their lives changed forever.
Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team by Steve Sheinkin
Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team is an astonishing underdog sports story―and more. It’s an unflinching look at the U.S. government’s violent persecution of Native Americans and the school that was designed to erase Indian cultures. Expertly told by three-time National Book Award finalist Steve Sheinkin, it’s the story of a group of young men who came together at that school, the overwhelming obstacles they faced both on and off the field, and their absolute refusal to accept defeat.
Jim Thorpe: Super athlete, Olympic gold medalist, Native American
Pop Warner: Indomitable coach, football mastermind, Ivy League grad
Before these men became legends, they met in 1907 at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania, where they forged one of the winningest teams in American football history. Called “the team that invented football,” they took on the best opponents of their day, defeating much more privileged schools such as Harvard and the Army in a series of breathtakingly close calls, genius plays, and bone-crushing hard work.