Given the release of “42,” the story of how Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball, we feature a couple of books about the legendary star and others.
Jackie Robinson: American Hero, written by Sharon Robinson (Scholastic, 2013; ages 7 and up). In this comprehensive biography, Sharon Robinson introduces a new generation of readers to her legendary father, Jackie Robinson.
42: The Jackie Robinson Story: The Movie Novel, (Scholastic, 2013, ages 8 and up)
A novel based on the movie 42–a biopic about Jackie Robinson’s history-making signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers as the first African American Major League Baseball player.
Includes a full-color insert of photos from the movie.
Something to Prove: The Great Satchel Paige Vs. Rookie Joe Dimaggio, written by Robert Skead, illustrated by Floyd Cooper (Carolrhoda Picture Books, 2013, ages 4 to 8)
From Amazon: In 1936, the New York Yankees wanted to test a hot prospect named Joe DiMaggio to see if he was ready for the big leagues. They knew just the ballplayer to call Satchel Paige, the best pitcher anywhere, black or white.
For the game, Paige joined a group of amateur African American players, and they faced off against a team of white major leaguers plus young DiMaggio. The odds were stacked against the less-experienced black team. But Paige’s skillful batting and amazing pitching with his “trouble ball” and “bat dodger” kept the game close.
Would the rookie DiMaggio prove himself as major league player? Or would Paige once again prove his greatness and the injustice of segregated baseball?
You Never Heard of Willie Mays?!, written by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Terry Widener (Schwartz & Wade, 2013, ages 4-8)
According to Booklist in a starred review, “the Say Hey Kid had style to spare, and so does this irrepressible book.”
He hit 660 home runs (fourth best of all time), had a lifetime batting average of .302, and is second only to Babe Ruth on The Sporting News‘s list of “Baseball’s 100 Greatest Players.” Many believe him to be the best baseball player that ever lived. His name is Willie Mays.
Just as Good: How Larry Doby Changed America’s Game, written by Chris Crowe, illustrated by Mike Benny (Candlewick, 2012, ages 6 to 9)
From Amazon: Batter up for the first-ever children’s book about Larry Doby, the first African-American player to hit a home run in the World Series.
The year is 1948, and Homer and his daddy are baseball crazy. Ever since last season, when their man Larry Doby followed Jackie Robinson across baseball’s color line and signed on with their team, the Cleveland Indians, it’s been like a dream come true. And today Larry Doby and the Indians are playing Game Four of the World Series against the Boston Braves! With a play-by-play narration capturing all the excitement of that particular game – and the special thrill of listening to it on the radio with family at home.
Henry Aaron’s Dream, written and illustrated by Matt Tavares (Candlewick Press, 2012, ages 8 to 12)
From Amazon: Matt Tavares hits one out of the park with this powerful tale of a kid from the segregated south who would become baseball’s home-run king.
Before he was Hammerin’ Hank, Henry Aaron was a young boy grow ing up in Mobile, Alabama, with what seemed like a foolhardy dream: to be a big-league baseball player. He didn’t have a bat. He didn’t have a ball. And there wasn’t a single black ball player in the major leagues. B ut none of this could stop Henry Aaron.
Clemente! written by Willie Perdomo, illustrated by Bryan Collier (Henry Holt and Co., 2010, ages 6- to 10)
From Barnes and Noble: A little boy named Clemente learns about his namesake, the great baseball player Roberto Clemente, in this joyful picture book biography.
Born in Puerto Rico, Roberto Clemente was the first Latin American player to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, and the only player for whom the five-year initiation period was waived. Known not only for his exceptional baseball skills but also for his extensive charity work in Latin America, Clemente was well-loved during his eighteen years playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He died in a plane crash while bringing aid supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.
She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story, written by Audrey Vernick, illustrated by Don Tate (Harper Collins, 2010, ages 5 to 10)
From Barnes and Noble: Effa always loved baseball. As a young woman, she would goto Yankee Stadium just to see Babe Ruth’s mighty swing. But she never dreamed she would someday own a baseball team. Or be the first—and only—woman ever inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
From her childhood in Philadelphia to her groundbreaking role as business manager and owner of the Newark Eagles, Effa Manley always fought for what was right. And she always swung for the fences.
We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball, by Kadir Nelson (Hyperion Books for Children, 2008, ages 9 to 12)
From the publisher: The story of Negro League baseball is the story of gifted athletes and determined owners; of racial discrimination and international sportsmanship; of fortunes won and lost; of triumphs and defeats on and off the field. It is a perfect mirror for the social and political history of black America in the first half of the twentieth century. But most of all, the story of the Negro Leagues is about hundreds of unsung heroes who overcame segregation, hatred, terrible conditions, and low pay to do the one thing they loved more than anything else in the world: play ball.
With only a month into baseball season, it’s not too late to highlight a few baseball books.