Teach Sportsmanship with Books

Prompt discussions about winning and losing with these sportsmanship books.

It's important to teach sportsmanship in the moment, during and after games and events. And we need to model sportsmanlike behavior for our kids too. But it's important to keep talking about winning and losing at other times too. These thought-provoking sportsmanship books can prompt some great discussions (bonus: many will appeal to reluctant readers too).

Bat's Big Game

sportsmanship books: Bats Big Game
Courtesy of Amazon
In this picture book, Margaret Read McDonald retells an Aesop fable about a ball game between the birds and the animals. Bat first joins one team, then the other, in an effort to stay on the winning side. The winning goal is all about team spirit. Ages 4-8. Buy from Amazon »

Winners Never Quit!

sportsmanship books - winners never quit by mia hamm
Courtesy of Amazon

Soccer champion Mia Hamm is the author of this story "inspired by" her real life. It stars a little girl named Mia who hates losing so much that she quits in the middle of a game. Her teammates teach her that that kind of attitude just won't fly. The book also includes some biographical info and photos of Hamm. This picture book is best for kids ages 4 to 7. Buy from Amazon »

Good Sports: Rhymes About Running, Jumping, Throwing, and More

sportmanship books: Good Sports
Courtesy of Amazon
A top-notch poet, Jack Prelutsky, teams up with an equally accomplished and beloved artist, Chris Raschka, in this collection. The short poems cover a dozen different sports and celebrate what makes sports fun—win or lose. Ages 6-12. Buy from Amazon »


Sportsmanship books: Olympig
Courtesy of Amazon
Victoria Jamieson's picture book stars Boomer the pig, who has been training for the Animal Olympics. Unfortunately, even hard work doesn't guarantee success. But Boomer still has the time of his life at the Summer Games, and can't wait until the Winter ones roll around! Ages 5-8. Buy from Amazon »

Tumble Bunnies

Sportsmanship books - Tumble Bunnies
Candlewick Press
Team sports make Clyde nervous, and so does his school's Sports Spectacular. His friend Rosemary helps him try tumbling, but when the big day comes, it's she who needs help. Clyde's solution showcases true sportsmanship. This picture book by Kathryn Lasky features the same bunnies found in her titles Science Fair Bunnies, Lunch Bunnies, and Show and Tell Bunnies. Ages 5-8. Buy from Amazon »

You're a Good Sport, Miss Malarkey

sportsmanship books miss malarkey
Courtesy of Amazon

In this Miss Malarkey title by Judy Finchler, Miss M. coaches a soccer team. She soon learns that it's the parents of the players that need a lesson in sportsmanship, and she sets them straight. Ages 5-8. Buy from Amazon »

The Ball Hogs

Sportsmanship books: Kickers series
Courtesy of Amazon

This is the first title in the soccer series, Kickers. In it, new player Ben learns how to deal with a ball hog (he has to start by realizing he's a bit of a ball hog himself). Other titles in this series for new readers by Rich Wallace include Fake Out, Benched, and Game-Day Jitters. Ages 6-9. Buy from Amazon »

Ready, Set, Snow

sportsmanship books Ready Freddy
Courtesy of Amazon
What happens when Freddy (of the well-known Ready Freddy series by Abby Klein) competes in his school's mini Winter Olympics? He has to learn how to win a snowshoe race—fast. This is an early chapter book for kids ages 5-8. Buy from Amazon »

Willy the Scrub

sportsmanship books Willy the Scrub
Lerner Publishing Group

Willy comes from a family of athletes, but he's not sporty at all—or at least he doesn't feel like he is. He wants to be, so he can fit in with other kids in his school. This chapter book describes his quest to find a sport that's right for him. Ages 7-11. Buy from Amazon »

Touchdown Trouble

Touchdown Trouble by Fred Bowen
Peachtree Publishers

In this Fred Bowen Sports Story title, a young football team faces an ethical dilemma when they realize a game-winning touchdown was scored illegally. The story also contains lots of play-by-play action. The chapter book is recommended for ages 7-12. Buy from Amazon »

Bravo, Mia

sportmanship books bravo mia
Courtesy of Amazon

In this follow-up to Mia (the companion book to an American Girl doll), figure skater Mia faces a family crisis that challenges her ability to compete in an important event. By Laurence Yep; ages 8-12. More »

Long Shot

sportsmanship books lupica
Penguin Group USA

Author and prominent sportswriter Mike Lupica takes on the topic of teamwork on and off the basketball court. This chapter book is part of Lupica's Comeback Kids series, which also includes titles about soccer, baseball, and football. Ages 8-12. Buy from Amazon »

Continue Reading