Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Fun Books About Sports

I'm not a very athletic person and as a result, I don't really follow sports.  Sure, I played field hockey in high school, but that was only to get out of the house on Saturday mornings so I wouldn't have to smell my dad's Saturday kippers steaming (but in all fairness, I was a pretty good right wing for four years).  All kidding aside, I do understand the importance of participating in sports for kids.  It teaches them so much - focus, discipline, sportsmanship, among other things.

And while I don't follow football (both kinds), baseball, basketball or hockey, I do like to watch the Olympics and have a fairly good understanding of Gymnastics thanks to a young family gymnast. But this year, along with a young pal of mine, we've both decided to learn more about the games played in the different Olympic events and beyond.  To help us along, we've chosen some nice book from National Geographic.

First up:

Everything Sports: All the Photos, Facts, and Fun to Make You Jump! by Eric Zweig with Sports Reporter Shalise Manza Young
National Geographic Kids, 2016, 84 pages, age 8+

Did you know that the word sport comes from the French word desport, meaning leisure or diversion?  And isn't that just what sports are?  This is just one of the interesting facts you will learn when you begin reading this book (and I was happy to see that field hockey has more than 2 billion fans - not bad).  From these, readers will learn about competitions and tournaments around the world, and what countries play what games. Readers will also learn the basics of basketball, baseball, American football, and ice hockey.

Current champions in each sport, as well as hall of famers are highlighted, and accompanied by lots of fun facts about games and players.  There is even a section on extreme sports, which look scary but interesting.   Included in the back-matter is a list of websites and books for further, more in-depth exploration about individual sports.

Weird but True! Sports 300 Wacky Facts About Awesome Athletics by National Geographic Kids, 2016, 208 pages, age 8+

With a little information about different sports, games and players, my young friend and I decided to have some fun. This book is a playground for trivia lovers with all of its unusual facts, statistics and stories from the world of sports - all kinds of sports, from falconry and racing "dunnies" to skateboarding and hot dog eating.  We sat down to read this book on a rainy afternoon, and spent the whole time reading and laughing, and repeating the things that we enjoyed most to everyone else in the house.  The only fact I really didn't enjoy reading was on page 19: It seems that the odds of picking all the right teams for an NCAA March Madness bracket are about 1 in 9,200,000,000,000,000,000.  I guess I'll pass on the office pool next year.  This is a great book that will give you hours of fun and entertainment even as you pick up some great information to dazzle your fellow Olympic viewers with.

Funny Fill-In: My Gold Medal Adventure by National Geographic Kids, 2016, 49 pages, age 8+

And finally, this was saved for a long car ride and proved to be lots of fun. Designed to help kids learn the parts of speech, and have a good laugh at the same time, this can be played alone, but works better with at least one other person.  First you pick a story, then ask a friend to call out a word the blank space calls for - a verb, a noun, an adjective, etc. and writes the answer in the blank space.  Once all the blanks are filled in, someone reads the story out loud and it is sure to be a good laugh. These can be done with one, two or more people, which really can make for a silly story.

Not only do Funny Fill-Ins help kids understand the different parts of speech, but it encourages them to really use their imaginations.  After all, made-up silly words are allowed and sometimes, they can even be encouraged.  There are a total of twenty-two stories in all and if you use pencil to fill in the blanks, they can be erased and a whole new story can be created.  I have to say that these fill-ins were a lot of fun on our car trip and so much better than the dreaded question "are we there yet?"

A sample of one of the stories
Thanks to National Geographic Kids for providing review copies of these three fun books.  We've learned a lot about different sports and have a whole new appreciation for the athletes we are watching on the Olympics.  I highly recommend these books for kids who don't know much about sports and even for kids who do.

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge is a weekly celebration of 
nonfiction books hosted by Alyson Beecher at Kid Lit Frenzy 

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