Here is a collection of seven picture books for young soccer enthusiasts. If I had compiled a soccer-themed booklist a couple of years ago, the pickin’s would have been slim. However, during the lead-up to the 2010 and 2011 World Cups, many new soccer-themed picture books have been published, and a surprising number of these newly published books have been good. In fact, five of the seven books on the booklist below were published within the past year, including three standouts: Madlenka Soccer Star by Peter Sís, Goal! by Mina Javaherbin, and Hope for Haiti by Jesse Joshua Watson.*
For the Love of Soccer! by Pelé and Frank Morrison. A straightforward introduction to Brazilian soccer star Pelé for very young soccer fans. For the Love of Soccer! features dynamic illustrations by Frank Morrison of Pelé and young kids playing soccer. Ages 4+
Winners Never Quit! by Mia Hamm and Carol Thompson. A story with a message for young athletes: You must learn to accept losing when you play sports. The endnotes of Winners Never Quit! introduce young readers to U.S. soccer star Mia Hamm. Ages 4+
Soccer For Fun! by Kenn Goin. The best non-fiction introduction to soccer I have found. Soccer For Fun! introduces kids to soccer rules, soccer skills, and soccer history. This book does a nice job of introducing the basic rules of the game and getting kids excited about playing and watching soccer. Ages 5+
Soccer Hour by Carol Nevius and Bill Thomson. A rhyming book that describes teammates enjoying soccer practice. Bill Thomson’s striking, photographic illustrations depict kids kicking, heading, and dribbling a soccer ball from a variety of angles. Soccer Hour includes somewhat advanced soccer terminology, making this book a better choice for kids who have played soccer. Ages 5+
Goal! by Mina Javaherbin and A. G. Ford. In this riveting story, a group of young boys in a South African shantytown must hide their prized soccer ball from a group of older bullies. Impressive illustrations by A.G. Ford. Ages 5+
*Incidently, four of the seven books on this booklist have titles that end with exclamation points!