March 4, 2013
In this monthly column, Etta Kaner shares some of her favourite children’s books written for a variety of ages.
Ever wonder why a football is shaped the way it is? Or how a helmet protects you? Don’t fret! These books will give children insight into the world of sports.
If you know any children who are into athletics, you might want to share these eye-opening books that give different perspectives and new insights into the world of sports.
Stumptown Kid by Carol Gorman and Ron J. Findley (published by Peachtree Publishers) is set in1952 in a small town inIowa. Twelve-year-old Charlie befriends a stranger in town, Luther Peale, who was once a professional baseball player inTennessee. The mystery of why Luther no longer plays baseball is gradually revealed, as is the racism that exists among some of the town’s citizens. Authors Gorman and Findley do an excellent job of bringing to life the main characters in this tension-filled story, where relationships are strained and heroism is revealed in the most surprising ways.
Juice by Eric Walters (published by Orca Book Publishers) is written for reluctant readers in Grades 6 to 9 at a Grade 3 reading level. The name of the game is football and the aim of the game, according to the new coach, is winning at all costs. This includes giving the high school team members power drinks laced with anabolic steroids as well as emotionally blackmailing the team captain, Moose, to take steroid pills. Moose, who is portrayed as a caring, responsible, level-headed teen, finds it very difficult to resist the hard sell. Fortunately, the coach and his assistant are apprehended before too much damage is done. This book provides a good opportunity to discuss cheating in the sports arena.
Sports Science by Shar Levine and Leslie Johnstone (published by Sterling Publishers Co.) is for the curious sports enthusiast who wants to understand the how and why behind sports equipment and action. By engaging in clearly explained experiments, readers will learn why a football has such a strange shape, how athletes turn while in the air, how a helmet protects the head, how balance plays a part in many sports activities and much, much more. Interesting and frequently occurring sidebars entitled “Did You Know?” reveal surprising bits of information; for example, did you know that “some ball sports have regulations about the bounciness of the balls used”? Colour photographs of children trying out the experiments enhance this stimulating book for 9- to 12-year olds.
Paralympics: The Story of Canadians in the Olympic Winter Games by Blaine Wiseman (published by Weigl) explains the rules and equipment used in the five events that make up the Paralympic Winter Games: alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, ice sledge hockey and wheelchair curling. Readers are given a glimpse into a typical day in the life of an athlete and learn a bit about the lives of famous athletes by reading mini-biographies. Colour photographs of athletes engaging in specific sports events reveal the incredible stamina and ability of these amazing people.
For those who are interested in the origins of the Olympics, How to Be an Ancient Greek Athlete by Jacqueline Morley (published by National Geographic) will take them back to Athens in the fifth century BC. Young readers are invited to train at a gymnasion, where they will learn philosophy and literature as well as various sports capabilities, including ball skills, acrobatics, running, boxing, wrestling and hockey. You also get training in discus and javelin throwing, jumping and racing. This is all in preparation for possible participation in the Panathenaic games, which happen every four years. If you’re really top notch, you get to participate in the games atOlympia. In keeping with the theme, author Morley invites the reader to take a quiz at the end of the book to “find out if you have what it takes to get the job.”