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  • Recommended for grade(s): 5, 6

    An eye-opening look at the life and legacy of Jackie Robinson, the man who broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball and became an American hero. Baseball, basketball, football — no matter the game, Jackie Robinson excelled. His talents would have easily landed another man a career in pro sports, but such opportunities were closed to athletes like Jackie for one reason: his skin was the wrong color. Settling for playing baseball in the Negro Leagues, Jackie chafed at the inability to prove himself where it mattered most: the major leagues. Then in 1946, Branch Rickey, manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, recruited Jackie Robinson. Jackie faced cruel and sometimes violent hatred and discrimination, but he proved himself again and again, exhibiting courage, determination, restraint, and a phenomenal ability to play the game. In this compelling biography, award-winning author Doreen Rappaport chronicles the extraordinary life of Jackie Robinson and how his achievements won over — and changed — a segregated nation. –from Candlewick Press.

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  • Recommended for grade(s): 3

    On the eve of World War II, African American boxer Joe Louis fought German Max Schmeling in a bout that had more at stake than just the world heavyweight title; for much of America their fight came to represent America’s war with Germany. This elegant and powerful picture book biography centers around the historic fight in which Black and White America were able to put aside prejudice and come together to celebrate our nation’s ideals. –from Penguin.

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  • Recommended for grade(s): 3

    Ernie Barnes was an NFL football player who longed to make art. Finally his dream came true. When Ernie Barnes was growing up in North Carolina in the 1940s, he loved to draw. Even when he played as a boy with his friends he drew with a stick in the mud. And he never left home without a sketchbook. He would draw families walking home from church, or the old man on the sofa. He drew what he saw. But in the segregated south, Ernie didn’t know how to make a living as an artist. Ernie grew tall and athletic and became a football star. Soon enough the colleges came calling. Still, in his heart Ernie longed to paint. Would that day ever come? Ernie Barnes was one of the most important artists of his time known for his style of elongation and movement. His work has influenced a generation of painters and illustrators and can be found in museums and collections, such as the African American Museum in Philadelphia and the California African American Museum. Between the Lines is a story of inspiration, spirit, and of an American original who pursued his dream. This enchanting picture book includes pieces of artwork created by this little known artist who captured the truth and beauty of the world he saw around him. — From Simon and Schuster

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  • By My Brother’s Side

    By: Tiki Barber and Ronde Barber
    Recommended for grade(s): 3

    Tiki and Ronde were each other’s best friends. Together from the start, these twins might not have been the strongest or the tallest, but they were fast and worked hard at what they loved. And they loved sports, especially football. Then one day Tiki badly hurt his knee in a biking accident, and he was sure he’d never be able to play again. Their mother had always told them, “You are each other’s best friends. Stick together, believe in yourselves, and you can do anything.” They kept her words in their hearts and never gave up. —from the Scholastic website

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  • Days of Grace: A Memoir

    By: Arthur Ashe
    Recommended for grade(s): 10, 11, 12, College Plus

    DAYS OF GRACE is an inspiring memoir of a remarkable man who was the true embodiment of courage, elegance, and the spirit to fight: Arthur Ashe–tennis champion, social activist, and person with AIDS. Frank, revealing, touching–DAYS OF GRACE is the story of a man felled to soon. It remains as his legacy to us all…. –From the website at Penguin Random House

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  • Recommended for grade(s): 3

    It’s never too soon to dream big—or to take action! Pursue excellence with this inspiring picture book from the mother of star basketball player Michael Jordan. Before Michael Jordan was a record-breaking athlete, he was a young boy who dreamed of playing basketball for the United States Olympic team. His mother tells him, “Dreaming is for dreams. If you want to play, you better get busy.” So what did Michael do? He got busy! Discover how Michael made his wish into a reality—Olympic gold medal included—in this motivational picture book for sports fans, go-getters, and anyone with big dreams! –From the website at Simon & Schuster

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  • Recommended for grade(s): 4, 5

    This book focuses on 14 of the legendary stars of the Negro Leagues. Each spread features statistics, a brief profile of the player, and a stunning full-page illustration. —from the Scholastic website

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  • Recommended for grade(s): 4

    Will Allen is no ordinary farmer. A former basketball star, he’s as tall as his truck, and he can hold a cabbage–or a basketball–in one hand. But what is most special about Farmer Will is that he can see what others can’t see. When he looked at an abandoned city lot in Milwaukee he saw a huge table, big enough to feed the whole world. No space, no problem. Poor soil, there’s a solution. Need help, found it. Farmer Will is a genius in solving problems. In 2008, the MacArthur Foundation named him one for his innovative urban farming methods, including aquaponics and hydroponics. Jacqueline Briggs Martin, author of the Caldecott Medal winner, Snowflake Bentley, and Alice Waters and the Trip to Delicious, along with debut artist Eric-Shabazz Larkin’s striking artwork, tells the inspiring story of the African American innovator, educator, and community builder. Farmer Will Allen is the first book of Martin’s Food Heroes series, followed by Alice Waters and the Trip to Delicious. In 2015, it was selected by Points of Light Foundation to set a new Guinness World Record for the most children reading the same book across the globe to promote literacy. Nearly 300,000 participated. — From Readers to Eaters

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  • Recommended for grade(s): 5

    Venus and Serena Williams are two of the greatest tennis players of all time. Some say they’re two of the greatest athletes of all time. Before they were world famous, they were little girls with big dreams. Venus and Serena Williams. Two peas in a pod. Best friends. Sisters. Six days a week they awoke before the sun came up to practice their serves and returns, to learn to run faster and hit harder. They were unstoppable. At age fourteen, Venus played her first professional match. Three years later, it was Serena’s turn. It wasn’t easy. Some tennis fans cheered for these two fresh faces, while those who were unhappy to see two black girls competing in a nearly all-white sport booed and taunted them. But they didn’t let it stop them. With vibrant mixed media art, nonfiction superstars Lesa Cline-Ransome and Coretta Scott King Honor winner James E. Ransome share the inspirational story of two tennis legends who were fierce competitors on the courts, but close sisters above all. — From Simon and Schuster

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  • Recommended for grade(s): 9, 10, 11, 12

    The moving autobiography of Hall of Fame basketball coach Don Haskins and his storied team of players, the Texas Western Miners. In 1966, college basketball was almost completely segregated. In the championship game for the NCAA title that year, Don Haskins, coach of the then little-known Texas Western College, did something that had never been done before in the history of college basketball. He started five black players, and in the now legendary game, unseated the nationally top-ranked University of Kentucky. Broadcast on television throughout the country, the Miners victory became the impetus for the desegregation of all college teams in the South during the next few years. Now, for the first time, Hall of Fame coach Don Haskins tell his story. Beginning as a small-town high school basketball coach, Haskins was known for his tough coaching methods and larger-than-life personality. As a child growing up during the Dust Bowl in Oklahoma, he developed a strong set of values and discipline that he would instill in his players throughout his coaching career. With recollections from his former players, including those of the 1966 team, along with Haskins’s own Seven Principles for Success, Glory Road is the inspiring story of a living legend and one of the most respected coaches of all time. —From Hyperion Books

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  • Henry Aaron

    By: Matt Tavares
    Recommended for grade(s): 5

    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 growing 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. But none of this could stop Henry Aaron. In a captivating biography of Henry Aaron’s young life — from his sandlot days through his time in the Negro Leagues to the day he played his first spring training game for the Braves — Matt Tavares offers an inspiring homage to one of baseball’s all-time greats. Back matter includes an author’s note, Henry Aaron’s career statistics, and a bibliography. — From Candlewick Press

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  • Recommended for grade(s): 8, 9

    For nearly five years Arthur Agee’s and William Gates’ remarkable lives were chronicled by a team of filmmakers. Roughly 250 hours of film were devoted to their journeys from the playgrounds to high school competition to college recruitment and — whittled down to three hours — it became the award-winning film Hoop Dreams. Now journalist Ben Joravsky vividly brings to light all the richness and subtlety of their stories, and the impact their aspirations had on themselves, their families and their relationships. It is an intimate look, complete with an up-to-date epilogue on the latest developments in their lives. — From the website at HarperCollins

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  • Recommended for grade(s): 10, 11, 12

    On the night in 1964 that Muhammad Ali (then known as Cassius Clay) stepped into the ring with Sonny Liston, he was widely regarded as an irritating freak who danced and talked way too much. Six rounds later Ali was not only the new world heavyweight boxing champion: He was “a new kind of black man” who would shortly transform America’s racial politics, its popular culture, and its notions of heroism. –From the website at Penguin Random House

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  • Recommended for grade(s): 3

    While sitting in the bleachers of a Soap Box Derby in the 1950s, Mary Garber overheard two African-American boys in the following exchange: ÒSee that lady down there?Ó asked one boy. ÒThatÕs Mary Garber. She doesnÕt care who you are, but if you do something good, sheÕll write about you.Ó Mary Garber was a pioneering sports journalist in a time where women were rarely a part of the newspaper business. Women werenÕt even allowed to sit in the press boxes at sporting events, so Mary was forced to sit with the coachesÕ wives. But that didnÕt stop her. In a time when African-American sports were not routinely covered, Mary went to the games and wrote about them. Garber was a sportswriter for fifty-six years and was the first woman to receive the Associated Press Sports EditorsÕ Red Smith Award, presented for major contributions in sports journalism. And now, every year the Association of Women in Sports Media presents the Mary Garber Pioneer Award in her honor to a role model for women in sports media. –From the website at Simon & Schuster

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  • Recommended for grade(s): 5

    At the age of thirteen, Mo’ne Davis became the first female pitcher to win a game in the Little League World Series and the first Little Leaguer to be featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated. A month later she earned a place in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. This inspiring memoir from a girl who learned to play baseball with the boys and rose to national stardom before beginning eighth grade will encourage young readers to reach for their dreams no matter the odds. Mo’ne’s story is one of determination, hard work, and an incredible fastball. Mo’ne Davis is a multisport athlete who also plays basketball and soccer, and is an honor roll student at her school in Philadelphia. With an 8-page full-color photo insert, this memoir celebrates our fascination with baseball in a story of triumph to be shared with generations of young athletes to come. –From the HarperCollins website

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  • Recommended for grade(s): 3

    A boy discovers his passion for dance and becomes a modern hero in this inspiring picture book biography of Robert Battle, artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. When Robert Battle was a boy wearing leg braces, he never dreamed he’d study at Juilliard. Though most dancers begin training at an early age, it wasn’t until Robert was a teenager that his appreciation for movement—first from martial arts, then for ballet—became his passion. But support from his family and teachers paired with his desire and determination made it possible for Robert to excel. After years of hard work, the young man who was so inspired by a performance of Alvin Ailey’s Revelations became the artistic director of the very company that motivated him. Today, under Robert’s leadership, Alvin Ailey continues to represent the African American spirit through dance. Featuring illustrations brimming with vibrant color and swirling motion, this biographical picture book from husband-and-wife team James Ransome and Lisa Cline-Ransome includes a foreword from Robert Battle himself as well as a bibliography, suggested further reading, and an author’s note. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater was founded in 1958 by choreographer Alvin Ailey. He envisioned a company dedicated to enriching the American modern dance heritage and preserving the uniqueness of the African-American cultural experience. When Mr. Ailey began creating dances, he drew upon his “blood memories” of his home state of Texas, the blues, spirituals, and gospel inspiration, which resulted in the creati...

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  • Out of the Blue (A Memoir)

    By: Victor Cruz
    Recommended for grade(s): 11, 12

    Victor Cruz, the Super Bowl-winning and record-breaking wide receiver, is best known for his explosive plays and salsa touchdown celebrations. While his meteoric rise in the nfL looked like the result of a magical year, it was actually a lifetime in the making. Raised in Paterson, New Jersey’s gritty Fourth Ward, Cruz overcame numerous setbacks through hard work, perseverance, and the support of his loving family–from his grandmother who gave him his signature dance moves; to his late father, a former firefighter, who introduced him to football and taught him how to play; to his hard-working, single mother who never let him give up in the face of a challenge. They all helped to keep him on the right path, as did his coaches, but Cruz’s journey was never easy. There were family tragedies, academic struggles, injuries, and more. In this inspiring, never-before-seen account, Cruz pays tribute to the people and places that made him the man he is today, recounts his most defining moments, and illustrates how his hardships ultimately unleashed his impenetrable will to win. A memoir. –From the website at Penguin Random House

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  • Recommended for grade(s): 6

    The inspiring all-American story of faith, family, hard work, and perseverance by Olympic fencer, activist, and Time”100 Most Influential People” honoree Ibtihaj Muhammad. At the 2016 Rio Olympics, Ibtihaj Muhammad smashed barriers as the first American to compete wearing hijab, and made history as the first Muslim-American woman to medal. But it wasn’t an easy road–in a sport most popular among wealthy white people, Ibtihaj often felt out of place. Ibtihaj was fast, hardworking, and devoted to her faith, but rivals and teammates (as well as coaches and officials) pointed out her differences, insisting she would never succeed. Yet Ibtihaj powered on. Her inspiring journey from a young outsider to an Olympic hero is a relatable, memorable, and uniquely American tale of hard work, determination, and self-reliance. — From Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

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  • Recommended for grade(s): 7, 8

    Like all A-Z books, this one illustrates the alphabet—but instead of “A is for Apple”, A is for Angela—as in Angela Davis, the iconic political activist. B is for Billie Jean King, who shattered the glass ceiling of sports; C is for Carol Burnett, who defied assumptions about women in comedy; D is for Dolores Huerta, who organized farmworkers; and E is for Ella Baker, who mentored Dr. Martin Luther King and helped shape the Civil Rights Movement. And the list of great women continues, spanning several centuries, multiple professions, and 26 diverse individuals. There are artists and abolitionists, scientists and suffragettes, rock stars and rabble-rousers, and agents of change of all kinds. The book includes an introduction that discusses what it means to be “rad” and “radical,” an afterword with 26 suggestions for how you can be “rad,” and a Resource Guide with ideas for further learning and reading. –from City Lights Publishers.

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  • Recommended for grade(s): 3, 4

    Venus and Serena Williams: Best friends. Sisters. Champions. Everyone knows the names Venus & Serena Williams. They’ve become synonymous with championships, hard work, and with shaking up the tennis world. This inspirational true story, written by award-winning sports journalist, Howard Bryant, and brought to beautiful life by Coretta Scott Kind Award and Honor winner, Floyd Cooper, details the sisters’ journey from a barely-there tennis court in Compton, CA, to Olympic gold medals and becoming the #1 ranked women in the sport of tennis. –From Penguin

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  • Recommended for grade(s): 6, 7

    Michaela DePrince was known as girl Number 27 at the orphanage, where she was abandoned at a young age and tormented as a “devil child” for a skin condition that makes her skin appear spotted. But it was at the orphanage that Michaela would find a picture of a beautiful ballerina en pointe that would help change the course of her life. At the age of four, Michaela was adopted by an American family, who encouraged her love of dancing and enrolled her in classes. She went on to study at the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at the American Ballet Theatre and is now the youngest principal dancer with the Dance Theatre of Harlem. She has appeared in the ballet documentary First Position, as well as on Dancing with the Stars, Good Morning America, and Nightline. In this engaging, moving, and unforgettable memoir, Michaela shares her dramatic journey from an orphan in West Africa to becoming one of ballet’s most exciting rising stars. –From the website at Penguin Random House

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  • Teammates

    By: Peter Golenbock
    Recommended for grade(s): 4, 5

    This is the moving story of how Jackie Robinson became the first black player on a Major League baseball team and how on a fateful day in Cincinnati, Pee Wee Reese took a stand and declared Jackie his teammate. —from the website at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

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  • The Greatest: Muhammed Ali

    By: Walter Dean Myers
    Recommended for grade(s): 4, 5

    Award-winning author Walter Dean Myers presents the amazing story of Muhammad Ali’s childhood, his rise as a champion, his politics, and his battles against Parkinson’s disease. Packed with dramatic black-and-white photos, this critically acclaimed biography is the perfect choice for both young adult sports fans and fans of Walter Dean Myers in general. —from the Scholastic website

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  • Recommended for grade(s): 7

    A brief biography in verse of boxer Muhammad Ali. Coretta Scott King Honor Book 2008. — From Candlewick Press

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  • When the Game was Ours

    By: Larry Bird and Magic Johnson
    Recommended for grade(s): 10, 11, 12, College Plus

    From the moment these two players took the court on opposing sides, they engaged in a fierce physical and psychological battle. Their uncommonly competitive relationship came to symbolize the most compelling rivalry in the NBA. These were the basketball epics of the 1980s — Celtics vs Lakers, East vs West, physical vs finesse, Old School vs Showtime, even white vs black. Each pushed the other to greatness — together Bird and Johnson collected eight NBA Championships, six MVP awards and helped save the floundering NBA at its most critical time. When it started they were bitter rivals, but along the way they became lifelong friends. With intimate, fly-on-the-wall detail, When the Game Was Ours transports readers to this electric era of basketball and reveals for the first time the inner workings of two players dead set on besting one another. From the heady days of trading championships to the darker days of injury and illness, we come to understand Larry’s obsessive devotion to winning and how his demons drove him on the court. We hear him talk with candor about playing through chronic pain and its truly exacting toll. In Magic we see a young, invincible star struggle with the sting of defeat, not just as a player but as a team leader. We are there the moment he learns he’s contracted HIV and hear in his own words how that devastating news impacted his relationships in basketball and beyond. But always, in both cases, we see them prevail.. –From the website at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

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  • Who Is Muhammed Ali? (Who Was?)

    By: James Buckley, Jr. and Stephen Marchesi and Nancy Harrison
    Recommended for grade(s): 4, 5

    Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. won the world heavyweight championship at the age of 22, the same year he joined the Nation of Islam and changed his name to Muhammad Ali. He would go on to become the first and only three-time (in succession) World Heavyweight Champion. Nicknamed “The Greatest,” Ali was as well known for his unique boxing style, consisting of the Ali Shuffle and the rope-a-dope, as he was for the catchphrase “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” He was an uncompromising athlete who brought beauty and grace to a very rough sport and became one of the world’s most famous cultural icons. Read Who Was Muhammad Ali? and discover “The Greatest.” –From the website at Penguin Random House

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  • Who Was Jackie Robinson? (Who Was?)

    By: Gail Herman and Nancy Harrison
    Recommended for grade(s): 4, 5

    As a kid, Jackie Robinson loved sports. And why not? He was a natural at football, basketball, and, of course, baseball. But beyond athletic skill, it was his strength of character that secured his place in sports history. In 1947 Jackie joined the Brooklyn Dodgers, breaking the long-time color barrier in major league baseball. It was tough being first- not only did “fans” send hate mail but some of his own teammates refused to accept him. Here is an inspiring sports biography, with black-and-white illustrations throughout. –From the website at Penguin Random House

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  • Who Was Jesse Owens? (Who Was?)

    By: James Buckley, Jr. and Gregory Copeland
    Recommended for grade(s): 4, 5

    At the 1936 Berlin Summer Olympics, track and field star Jesse Owens ran himself straight into international glory by winning four gold medals. But the life of Jesse Owens is much more than a sports story. Born in rural Alabama under the oppressive Jim Crow laws, Owens’s family suffered many hardships. As a boy he worked several jobs like delivering groceries and working in a shoe repair shop to make ends meet. But Owens defied the odds to become a sensational student athlete, eventually running track for Ohio State. He was chosen to compete in the Summer Olympics in Nazi Germany where Adolf Hitler was promoting the idea of “Aryan superiority.” Owens’s winning streak at the games humiliated Hitler and crushed the myth of racial supremacy once and for all. –From the website at Penguin Random House

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