Slam Dunk! 8 Sports Books for Teen Readers
by Dena McMurdie
There’s something particularly compelling about YA sports books. They feature stories of teens and young adults who overcome tremendous challenges and work hard to succeed. Often, they serve up real-life drama alongside passion and heart. They reflect common experiences for many young athletes and provide the rest of us a glimpse into the unique challenges they face.
Whether you enjoy stories of competition, determination, or underdogs rising to the top, these books centered on sports will appeal to teen readers who love the thrill of the game.
A Short History of the Girl Next Door
This is a heart-wrenching story of first love and basketball. Matt has loved Tabby, his best friend and neighbor, for as long as he can remember. When a terrible accident changes everything, Matt isn’t sure he’ll ever recover.
Running Full Tilt
When his family is forced to relocate due to his older brother’s violent outbursts, Leo joins the track team and discovers a talent for cross-country running. YA readers will love this fast-paced and insightful novel.
This series contains four short novels, each featuring a different member of a basketball team in Oakland, California. With plenty of drama on and off the court, these books are perfect for YA readers that love smart, realistic fiction.
Told from the point of view of five Olympic gymnasts, Tumbling shines a light on the challenges of women’s gymnastics. With behind-the-scenes drama, politics, and fierce competition, this endearing YA novel will keep you glued to the page.
Women in Sports: 50 Fearless Athletes Who Played to Win
This beautifully illustrated book features 50 profiles of female athletes from the 1800s to today. With infographics, art, and tons of facts, this is a must-have book for active teens and anyone interested in the history of women in sports.
When Julio gets the chance to defect to the United States from Cuba, he must brave the danger and uncertainty that come with it. Set against a baseball backdrop, Game Seven tackles themes of family, immigration, and loyalty.
Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina
From an orphanage in Sierra Leone to the stage in America, this is the memoir of Michaela Deprince and her rise to ballet stardom. A true story of perseverance and rising above the odds, Taking Flight is an inspiring book that every young dancer should read.
The Young Champion’s Mind: How to Think, Train, and Thrive Like an Elite Athlete
In this YA adaptation of The Champion’s Comeback, Afremow offers a wide range of advice specifically tailored to teen athletes. It’s an actionable guide to getting in a healthy mindset, reframing your goals, and enjoying your sport, even when faced with competing commitments and pressure.