Sports lovers’ fiction: 10 great sports books for kids

Two kids kicking a football who would likely love these great sports books for kids


We are asked all the time for book recommendations for kids who love sport. They can be a great way of encouraging some reluctant readers, who might prefer to be kicking a ball around outside, to pick up a book. But they are certainly not just for reluctant readers. After all, we all love and get so much out of a book that we can relate to – and I know plenty of bookworms who also love a sporting challenge!

If your youngsters, like mine, are missing their usual sports clubs, teams and activities during lockdown, why not try quenching their sporty thirst with some of these fiction books for sport-loving kids:

Me and Mister P book cover

Me and Mister P by Maria Farrer, illustrated by Daniel Rieley

Perfect for reading aloud with kids aged 5+.

This beautiful book is perfect family reading. Football-mad Arthur just wants a normal family – until funny, clumsy, helpful(ish) polar bear Mr P arrives on his doorstep and brings them all closer together.

The Unlucky Eleven book cover showing kids on a football pitch

The Unlucky Eleven by Phil Earle, illustrated by Steve May

Perfect for football-mad early readers aged 5+.

A super readable book in Barrington Stoke’s Little Gem series, which we love. Ridiculous injuries ... strange illnesses ... cancelled games ... Everything's going wrong for the Saints this season, and Stanley's team-mates believe they finally know why. Their football kit is cursed!

Barry Loser in the Best at Football NOT book cover

Barry Loser is the Best at Football NOT by Jim Smith

Perfect laugh-out-loud reading for kids aged 6+

We love the hilarious Barry Loser series and this tenth volume doesn’t disappoint. All Barry’s friends have gone football crazy, but Barry gets kicked off the team for being, well, a bit rubbish, while best friend Bunky turns out to be a superstar striker.

Diary of a Cricket God book cover

Diary of a Cricket God by Shamini Flint, illustrated by Sally Heinrich

Perfect for cricket fans aged 7+

My cricket-mad kids enjoyed this hilarious book, not least for the Tom Gates-style illustrations and diary format. 10-year-old Marcus Atkinson doesn’t want to play cricket, but his dad loves the game and is desperate for him to play.

Ghost book cover showing a kid running

Ghost by Jason Reynolds

Perfect for young athletes aged 8+

This is the first in a fab series of books starring four kids from wildly different backgrounds, all chosen for an elite middle school running team - a team that could qualify them for the Junior Olympics if they can get their acts together.

Fish Boy book cover showing a boy swimming surrounded by fish

Fish Boy by Chloe Daykin

Perfect for swimming-mad kids aged 8+

This quirky and moving story by one of our favourite contemporary children’s authors tells the story of Billy, who’s got a lot on his mind – so he swims in the sea, where he feels most comfortable and can let his mind drift…

Roller Girl graphic novel cover

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson

Perfect for graphic novel fans aged 8+

This brilliantly illustrated story about friendship and finding out who you really are stars Astrid, who falls in love with roller skating and signs up to a summer camp, but struggles without her best friend by her side.

Defenders cover showing two silhouettes playing football

Defenders by Tom Palmer

Perfect for football fans aged 8+

This series of super accessible books combines football, history and supernatural sleuthing! There are three titles in the series so far, all starring football-mad Seth who finds himself solving historical riddles from the Viking, Roman and Iron Ages.

Splash book cover showing legs on a diving board above a swimming pool

Splash by Charli Howard

Perfect for kids who love to swim aged 9+

This debut relates important messages around friendship, body positivity and celebrating who you are. Molly is in her final year of primary school, with secret dreams of becoming an Olympic swimmer, but has always lived in the shadow of her manipulative friend, Chloe.

The Fastest Boy in the World cover showing a boy running

The Fastest Boy in the World by Elizabeth Laird

Perfect for young athletes aged 9+

Eleven-year-old Solomon loves to run! The great athletes of the Ethiopian national team are his heroes and he dreams that one day he will be a gold-medal-winning athlete like them, in spite of his ragged shorts and bare feet.

If you've enjoyed these recommendations, you can find plenty more here. And if you'd like us to send one carefully picked chapter book plus a fun-filled activity pack to your child each month, find out more about our subscriptions here.


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