Posted by: montclairlibrary | June 19, 2015

Hoop it up

Are you headed to the Warriors victory parade today? If the recent NBA playoffs have you fired up about basketball, add some of these books to your summer reading list (scroll down for options for older kids and adults, too):

Children's books about basketball, a list by the Friends of Montclair Library

Picture books:
Picture books and children’s non-fiction introduce the sport and its history.

Dino-Basketball by Lisa Wheeler (J PICBK WHEELER) – Plant-eating dinosaurs face meat-eating dinosaurs in a basketball game at Mastadon Square Garden.

The Princesses Have a Ball by Teresa Bateman (J PICBK BATEMAN) – In this rhyming update of the fairy tale of the “Twelve Dancing Princesses,” twelve princesses wear out their shoes playing basketball.

My Basketball Book by Gail Gibbons (J 796.323 GIBBONS) – Introduces the basics of the game of basketball, describing the players, court, techniques and rules of play.

Hoop Genius: How a Desperate Teacher and a Rowdy Gym Class Invented Basketball by John Coy (J 796.3232 COY) (not at Montclair) – Discover the true story of how James Naismith invented basketball in 1891 at a school in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Basketball Belles: How Two Teams and One Scrappy Player Put Women’s Hoops on the Map (J BIO CLEAVELAND) – Raised on a cattle ranch, Agnes Morley exchanged her breeches and spurs for bloomers and a basketball; and in April 1896 she made history. In a heart-pounding game against the University of California at Berkeley, Agnes led Stanford University to victory in the first-ever intercollegiate women’s basketball game, earning national attention and putting women’s basketball on the map.

Brendan and Belinda and the Slam Dunk! by Anne Rockwell (J PICBK ROCKWELL) – Brendan and Belinda and their dad, Mr. Porker, learn that being a good sport means playing the game well and having fun too.

Hoops by Robert Burleigh (J 811.54 BURLEIGH) (not at Montclair) – Illustrations and poetic text describe the movement and feel of the game of basketball.

Mt. Olympus Basketball by Kevin O’Malley (J PICBK O’MALLEY) – Zeus, Hera, Athene, Poseidon and Hades pull some dirty tricks as they face off against Hercules, Jason, Odysseus, Achilles and Theseus in this gods-versus-mortals basketball game in ancient Greece.

Basketball (Eyewitness book) by John Hareas (J 796.323 HAREAS 2005) – Text and detailed photographs present the history, techniques and interesting facts of basketball.

Super Basketball Infographics by Jeff Savage (J 796.323 SAVAGE) (coming soon) – Facts and fun details about the game of basketball come alive through charts, maps and illustrations.

Chapter books for kids:
Mostly geared to the 3rd-5th grade set, these books tackle issues on and off the court.

Tall Story by Candy Gourlay (J FIC GOURLAY) – Sixteen-year-old Bernardo, who is eight feet tall and suffers from a condition called Gigantism, leaves the Philippines to live with his mother’s family in London, much to the delight of his thirteen-year-old half sister Andi, a passionate basketball player.

Summer Ball by Mike Lupica (J FIC LUPICA) – Thirteen-year-old Danny must prove himself all over again for a disapproving coach and against new rivals at a summer basketball camp.

Stanford Wong Flunks Big-Time by Lisa Yee (J FIC YEE) – After flunking sixth-grade English, basketball prodigy Stanford Wong must struggle to pass his summer-school class, keep his failure a secret from his friends and satisfy his academically demanding father.

Slam! by Walter Dean Myers (J FIC MYERS) – Sixteen-year-old “Slam” Harris is counting on his noteworthy basketball talents to get him out of the inner city and give him a chance to succeed in life, but his coach sees things differently.

Brittany the Basketball Fairy by Daisy Meadows (J FIC MEADOWS) – While everyone in Fairyland is getting ready for the Fairy Olympics, Jack Frost’s goblins steal the Sports Fairies’ magic objects, and Rachel and Kristy must play the goblins’ Mean Green Basketball Team to win back Brittany’s magic ball.

Slam Dunk by Amar’e Stoudemire (J FIC STOUDEMIR) – When some of the older kids get on Amar’e for not being able to dunk, he sets a goal to make that happen soon. But when Amar’e’s playing time is put on hold, he’ll have to come to terms with all of the other things he’s been neglecting.

Dragon Road by Laurence Yep (J FIC YEP) – In 1939, unable to find regular jobs because of the Great Depression, long-time friends Cal Chin and Barney Young tour the country as members of a Chinese American basketball team.

The Million Dollar Shot by Dan Gutman (J FIC GUTMAN) – Eleven-year-old Eddie gets a chance to win a million dollars by sinking a foul shot at the National Basketball Association finals.

Basketball (or Something Like It) by Nora Raleigh Baskin (J FIC BASKIN) – Hank, Nathan, Jeremy and Anabel deal with the realities of middle school basketball, including family pressure, a series of coaches with very different personalities and agendas, and what it means to be a team–and a friend.

Hoop Girlz by Lucy Jane Bledsoe (J FIC BLEDSOE) – When ten-year-old River, who is crazy about basketball, is not chosen to play on her town’s tournament team, she decides to organize a team of her own and accepts the help of her older brother.

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander (J FIC ALEXANDER) – Twelve-year-old twin basketball stars Josh and Jordan wrestle with highs and lows on and off the court as their father ignores his declining health in this Newbery-medal-winning novel in verse.

Psst – Check out this list of more basketball books on the Warriors’ website.

For adults:
I couldn’t find any strong basketball-themed novels for adults (comment if you’ve got a favorite), but here are three non-fiction options in the Montclair collection that profile basketball from high school to the pros.

Skyline: One Season, One Team, One City by Tim Keown (796.32362 KEOWN) – A San Francisco Chronicle sportswriter takes readers through a basketball season at Oakland’s Skyline High School in this “gripping look at an inner city basketball team” (Amazon) that several reviewers compared to Friday Night Lights, H.G. Bissinger’s tale of Texas high school football which spawned the TV series of the same name.

The Last Amateurs: Playing for Glory and Honor in Division I College Basketball by John Feinstein (796.32363 FEINSTEIN) – Feinstein spent a season with the players and coaches of the Patriot League, one of the NCAA’s smallest leagues, “uncovering the drama of their daily lives and the passions that drive them to commit hundreds of hours to basketball even when there is no chance of a professional future.” (Amazon)

Eleven Rings by Phil Jackson (796.32309 JACKSON) – An autobiography by the off-beat and highly successful coach.

When the Game was Ours by Larry Bird & Earvin “Magic” Johnson with Jackie MacMullan (796.323 BIRD) – Two NBA stars discuss their thrilling rivalry and the lifelong friendship that grew out of it.


  1. Just saw this: This Friday, June 26, at 5:30 PM Kwame Alexander, author of the Newbery-award winning basketball-themed novel for children, The Crossover, will be reading at Mrs. Dalloway’s in Berkeley. Details:

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