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Kids' Nonfiction Books About Baseball

From the Major Leagues to the Negro Leagues


Kids' nonfiction books about baseball can help to turn young fans who are reluctant readers into enthusiastic readers. If baseball history, Major League teams, statistics and baseball greats are of interest to your kids, they'll enjoy these books. I recommend them for middle grade readers. I think that teens and adults who are baseball fans will also find them of interest. Kids who want to improve their own games will find Sports Illustrated Kids Pro Files: Baseball particularly helpful.

1. Baseball (DK Eyewitness Books)

Cover art for Baseball, a DK Eyewitness book
DK Publishing
One of the DK Eywitness Books, Baseball by James Kelley is full of facts and photographs, organized in a series of 2-page chapters. There are 32 chapters, plus a glossary and index. In addition to all of the historic and contemporary photos of baseball players, equipment, artifacts and ephemera, there's a companion CD, which contains .

The book covers the Major Leagues, minor leagues, Negro Leagues, college baseball, women in baseball and baseball for kids.

Baseball includes 5 chapters that cover the field and equipment and chapters on pitching, catching, infield and outfield positions, batting and running the bases. Baseball cards, heroes, history, statistics and team contact information are also covered, as are the World Series and the annual baseball calendar.

I recommend Baseball for fans, from ages 8 to 14, as well as older teens and adults. DK Publishing has published an updated edition of Baseball every 5 years since 2000. The ISBN for the 2010 edition is 9780756659349. (Compare prices.)

2. We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball

Cover art of the children's nonfiction book We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball
Jump at the Sun/Hyperion, An Imprint of the Disney Book Group
We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball, written and illustrated by Kadir Nelson, is an award-winning book for ages 8 through adults. Among the awards Kadir Nelson received for the book are the 2009 Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award Medal and the 2009 Coretta Scott King Author Award. The size of the book, about 11" X 11," enhances the dramatic portraits and action paintings that illustrate the book.

With a foreword by baseball great Hank Aaron and 10 chapters, from 1st Inning: Beginnings to 9th Inning: Then Came Jackie Robinson, followed by the last chapter, Extra Innings: The End of the Negro Leagues, Kadir Nelson provides a comprehensive overview of the history of the Negro Leagues, the players and those who created and ran the Negro Leagues, all within 78 pages.

In addition, in the remaining 10 pages are 2 lists, Negro Leaguers Who Made It to the Major Leagues and Negro Leaguers in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, an Author's Note in which Nelson discusses his research and his approach to the book, a bibliography, filmography, endnotes and an index, all of which enhance the book. Jump at the Sun/Hyperion, an imprint of Disney Book Group, published We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball in 2008. The ISBN is 9780786808328. (Compare prices.)

3. Sports Illustrated Kids Pro Files: Baseball

Cover of Sports Illustrated Kids Pro Files: Baseball
As the subtitle of Sports Illustrated Kids Pro Files: Baseball states, the book provides Intel on Today's Biggest Stars and Tips on How to Play Like Them. The book features profiles of 15 Major League baseball players. This includes: 5 pitchers (Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers; Roy Halladay, Philadelphia Phillies; Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants; Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners; Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees) and 2 catchers (Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins; Brian McCann, Atlanta Braves)

In addition, it includes: 2 right fielders (Justin Upton, Arizona Diamondbacks; Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle Mariners), 2 first basemen (Albert Pujois, Los Angeles Angels; Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds), 1 second baseman (Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox), 1 third baseman (Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays), 1 left fielder (Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers), and 1 shortstop (Jose Reyes, Miami Marlins).

Each player is highlighted in a six-page profile that includes lots of colorful action photographs, background information, trivia, statistics, and a 2-page Secrets to his Game section with a Player Analysis, a quotation from the player and specific advice on what the reader can do to play more like the featured professional player. I recommend this book for baseball players 10 and older who want to improve their playing, as well as for fans of baseball of all ages. Times Home Entertainment published Sports Illustrated Kids Pro Files: Baseball in 2012. The ISBN is 9781603202381. (Compare prices.)

4. She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story

Cover art for She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story
She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story, a picture book biography by Audrey Vernick, is the amazing true story of the first, and only, woman to be inducted in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. At an early age, Effa Brooks, a light-skinned African American, encountered racial prejudice. She spent her life fighting injustice in her community and in the world of baseball. When Etta married Abe Manley, who shared her enthusiasm for baseball, they started a team in the Negro National League.

Etta ably handled team business and, despite initial resistance because she was a women, won the respect of the other team owners in the League. She genuinely cared about her team and was so supportive of the players that she became known as the team's "mother hen." When black players were accepted into the Major Leagues and the Negro Leagues began to falter, Etta worked to ensure that Negro League teams who lost players to the Major Leagues were properly compensated.

Years later, Etta Manley's letter-writing campaign to the National Baseball Hall of Fame helped to highlight the importance of including outstanding members of the Negro Leagues in the Hall. Over time, more and more of the baseball champions whom Etta had championed were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Etta Manley died in 1981, but her lasting importance to baseball, her civil rights work, her support for the players and for the Negro League teams, was recognized in 2006 when she was inducted in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Collins, an imprint of HarperCollins published the book in 2010. The ISBN of She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story is 9780061349201. Although the book, which Don Tate illustrated, is only 32 pages long, it covers a lot of material.Compare prices.

5. The Best of Everything Baseball Book (Sports Illustrated Kids)

Cover of The Best of Everything Baseball Book
Capstone Press
The 64 pages of The Best of Everything Baseball Book (Sports Illustrated Kids) are chock full of information and photographs. The five chapters, Baseball Biography, Tremendous Teams, Prime-Time Players, Remarkable Records and Fan Favorites, are divided into illustrated segments, making it easier for readers to digest all of the information provided. Helpful additions include a timeline, glossary, recommended books and Web sites, and an index.

Within each chapter, you'll find 2-page sections of related photographs and information. For example, in Chapter 2, Tremendous Teams, the Around the Majors section features segments about the American League (AL) East, AL Central and AL West, as well as the National League (NL) Central, NL West and NL East. The World Series Greats section features the 1907 Chicago Cub, the 1927 New York Yankees, the 1961 New York Yankees and the 1975 Cincinnati Cubs.

In addition, the Turn of the 21st Century Team section features some of those players regularly found at the annual All-Star Game. There is also a Worldly Competition section about the World Baseball Classic tournament and a Negro Leagues Dream Team section that highlights the history of the Negro Leagues and some of their best players, such as pitcher Leroy "Satchel" Paige.

Nate LeBoutillier is the author of The Best of Everything Baseball Book, a Sports Illustrated Kids book, which I recommend for ages 8 and older. Capstone Press published the book in 2011. The ISBN is 9781429662888. Compare prices.

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