The pre-adolescent years are a time of great change, which often brings confusion but also growth. Kids have to deal with bullying, friendship, family issues, and discovering their own unique voices. For many, sports can be a fun way to sort through these issues while also exploring their own interests. Below are wonderful new middle grade books about sports that teach life lessons that kids this age often face.
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the books below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Middle Grade Books About Sports and Life Lessons
Ollie dreams of being a pro wrestler one day, so he can win back the golden championship belt his mom lost to a cheating opponent years before. But it’s not until he is given a disgusting, old piece of gum that belonged to a former wrestling champion that this scrawny boy sees any hope that his dream might actually come true. Slamdown Town is the story of what happens when a kid is suddenly able to transform into the body of a pro wrestler. Ollie thinks it’s a dream come true – a chance to win back the championship belt, get enough publicity to save the local arena, and maybe even get revenge on his bullying older brother.
Yet as Ollie’s attention becomes more and more absorbed by his secret identity as a wrestler, it has grave consequences for his already lackluster grades and for his relationship with his best friend Tamiko. In the end, Ollie has to decide what is most important to him and what he’s willing to sacrifice to get it.
Slamdown Town is a super fun read, even for someone like me who isn’t a big fan of pro wrestling. It’s obvious that the authors are huge fans, and their (and Ollie’s) enthusiasm is infectious. Also, the dialogue is hilarious! I especially love Tamiko, Ollie’s best friend and a girl gamer who keeps Ollie on his toes. (And by the way, I love that Ollie and Tamiko are besties without any hint of romance). Plus the descriptions of his older brother and his attempts to be cool are particularly funny. A fun book that explores life lessons in a very unusual way.
When Jack starts fifth grade, he hopes that the bullying from the year before will stop, but instead it starts again with increased fervor. To make matters worse, he is afraid to tell his best friends and his parents, because he doesn’t want to look like a coward. Jack tries every solution he can think of to avoid the bullies, but they always find a way to make his life miserable. Meanwhile, his shame at not being able to handle the problem himself only increases.
Buddies, Bullies, and Baseball from TCK Publishing explores the all too common theme of bullying. What makes this latest book from Phyllis J. Perry different is that it not only gives Jack’s perspective as a bullied kid, it also helps him see how easy it is to be unfriendly people that are different. When Jack is assigned to help a new student from Germany, Jack struggles to be patient with Hans’ lack of English and frequent misunderstandings. Yet eventually he learns to appreciate Hans, in part through their common love of baseball.
When his bullies steal Jack’s prized baseball mitt, Jack knows they’ve gone too far and comes up with a plan to stop the bullying once and for all – but only after enlisting the help of his parents, friends, and teacher. A great book about friendship, courage, and knowing when to ask for help.