It’s officially baseball season, and if you’re like me, you’ll have littles starting park district ball in the next several days. In honor of America’s favorite game, I’ve compiled a list of six children’s illustrated books we have absolutely loved, that also share a piece of baseball’s varied history. Head on over to your local library or click through to Amazon to pick up a copy and read with your kids before their next big game.
Written by Audrey Vernick, Illustrated by Steven Salerno
In Brothers at Bat, Audrey Vernick tells the heartwarming, generational story of an all-American family, bound together by their love of baseball. In 1938, the twelve Accerras brothers ranged in age from 7 to 32. The oldest nine formed a baseball team, first coached by their dad, and then by one of the elder brothers. They played through 1952, only stopping long enough for six brothers to serve in World War II, to become the longest-playing all-brother baseball team. Ever.
Written by Deborah Hopkinson, Illustrated by Terry Widener
Girls can’t throw. Girls can’t play baseball. But this gal might bring in some dough.
Said the coach who greatly underestimated the pitching ability of Alta Weiss.
In 1907, baseball was decidedly a boys game, but at 17 years old Alta Weiss pitched for the Vermilion Independents, a semi-pro all male team. The following year her father became co-owner and renamed them the Weiss All Stars. Though she didn’t continue playing professionally, Alta did go on to medical school and was the only female graduate of the class of 1914.
Girl Wonder is a champion story for little girls who love playing baseball, and love living life outside the lines.
By Abbott & Costello, Illustrated by John Martz
In 1999, Time magazine named Abbot and Costello’s 1930s comedy routine “Who’s on First,” the best comedy sketch of the 20th century. John Martz brilliantly translates the routine for younger audiences through his bright illustrations of an all animal baseball team.
Written by Willie Perdomo, Illustrated by Bryan Collier
Clemente! is a fictional story of a boy named for baseball hero, Roberto Clemente. Willie Perdomo uses poetic language and sing-song phrasing to share Clemente’s story through the pride and admiration of an average hispanic family. Emphasizing Clemente’s efforts to help the underprivileged, his respect for family, and his determination to fight for what is right in the world, the little boy is encouraged to take pride in his name, and his heritage, and to believe that anything is possible.
Written by Audrey Vernick, Illustrated by Don Tate
In She Loved Baseball, Audrey Vernick tells the story of Effa Manley, an incredible woman of action who fought for equality in the 20th century. When Harlem business owners refused to hire black people, Effa organized and boycotted to make sure they did. When Negro League baseball owners protested her presence at meetings because of her gender, Effa demonstrated she belonged by the way she cared for her players and managed her team. When the Majors started signing Negro League players without buying out their contracts, she helped negotiate for the first black player in the American League (which also set the precedence for every other similar trade). When the Negro League itself came to an end, it was Effa who lobbied for it’s history to be preserved. Because of her contributions to baseball and civil rights, in 2006 she became the first woman ever to be inducted in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
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