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Diverse Books For All Ages

Books That Celebrate Every Story, Every Voice, Every Child

Slam Dunk: Must-Read Children's Books about Basketball


As March Madness sweeps the nation, it's the perfect time to share diverse children's books that highlight the sport's universal appeal. From inner-city playgrounds to suburban courts, these stories feature characters from various backgrounds, reflecting the diversity of the basketball community.


Whether it's tales of teamwork, perseverance, or friendship, these books offer valuable lessons while capturing the excitement of the game. Young readers, sports enthusiasts, and families alike will delight in the vibrant illustrations and engaging narratives that bring these basketball adventures to life. Whether you're cheering for your favorite team during March Madness or simply looking for inspiring stories, these diverse children's books about basketball are sure to score big with readers of all ages. For your convenience, we've included publisher's descriptions along with each book.

The inspiring true story of basketball phenom Tacko Fall--and his journey from West Africa to the NBA--will inspire young people to dream and do.


Tacko Fall was always tall, even as a child, but he wasn't always a slam-dunk star. On his first official day of training as a boy in Senegal, running up and down the basketball court was exhausting. The first time he tried weight-lifting, he could barely lift the bar, even with no weights on it! The game had many rules that he didn't understand, but Tacko set aside frustration and found the courage to keep working. The more he practiced, the more his skills grew, and the more reachable his goals became. Touching on immigration, determination, hard work, and the long road to success, this picture-book biography of one rising basketball star will delight his many fans and introduce him to new ones. Coauthored with his sports agent and paired with engaging illustrations, Tacko Fall's relatable story will motivate readers to overcome obstacles and aim high--and higher still.



This dynamic picture book biography introduces readers of all ages to Wataru Misaka, the first non-white athlete to play in the NBA


Wataru "Wat" Misaka, a Japanese American boy born to immigrant parents, liked to play basketball under the glow of stars and a small street lamp in Ogden, Utah. America was home to Wat, but with the onset of World War II, many people thought he didn't belong.


"Go home!" they would shout as he dribbled the ball down the hardwood court, but Wat continued on his chosen path, winning state tournaments in high school, becoming a national champion with the University of Utah, and even serving in the U.S. Army. The New York Knicks took notice, and in 1947, Wat became the first person of color to play in the NBA.


During a time when nearly all of America mistrusted and mistreated Japanese Americans, Wataru Misaka embodied courage and strength, pursuing the game he loved and becoming a symbol of hope for Japanese Americans sent to incarceration camps. Lost in the annals of history for too long, this remarkable story of identity, belonging, and following one's own path is now illuminated through lyrical text and vivid illustrations.



A Muslim American girl at the top of her game makes a difficult choice in this powerful and beautifully told true story about breaking barriers.


Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir was born to play basketball. At three, she has her own hoop. By seventeen, she's the star player on her school's varsity team. On the day of the playoffs, though, the referee says she can't play while wearing her hijab. Her teammates refuse to play, the crowd shouts its support and the referee relents. With that game, Bilqis becomes the all-time lead scorer in Massachusetts State history and goes on to play college ball, where she is the first woman to play in a hijab in the NCAA - she even plays basketball with President Obama at the White House!


The story follows Bilqis into adulthood and her heartbreaking decision to walk away from a professional basketball career when the rules once again won't allow her to wear a hijab. Bilqis becomes an activist, fighting for years on the international stage advocating for young Muslim women, and eventually the rule is overturned. Written in free verse in a voice that captures the cadence of the game, this picture book biography, coauthored by Bilqis and award-winning writer Judith Henderson, is both a love poem to the sport of basketball and an inspiring story about how one person can effect change. Richly colored illustrations by Katherine Ahmed add further emotional depth to the story.


This book will spark discussions about respect, beliefs, values, culture and discrimination. Back matter includes biographical information, photos and a list of sources for further exploration. Lion on the Inside is the first book in the CitizenKid collection that is geared to younger readers ages 5 to 8.



The true story of the high-flying Harlem Globetrotters -- the team that changed basketball forever.


In this book you will find one-finger ball-spinning, rapid-fire mini-dribbling, and a ricochet head shot! You will find skilled athletes, expert players, and electrifying performers -- all rolled into one! You will find nonstop, give-it-all-you've-got, out-to-win-it, sky's-the-limit BASKETBALL!


You will find The Harlem Globetrotters, who played the most groundbreaking, breathtaking ball the world had ever seen. With rhythmic writing and dynamic illustrations, Swish! is a celebration of the greatness, goodness, and grit of this remarkable team.



Four-time NBA champion and superstar Stephen Curry makes a splash with his picture book debut inspiring young readers to unlock their very own superpower.


Stephen Curry's journey to the NBA wasn't easy. Coaches and recruiters repeatedly told him he was too small to make it in the big leagues. But Stephen used their doubts to shape his ever-positive attitude and fuel his own underdog success story. Now, Curry pens an original story to inspire the next generation of go-getters and big dreamers.


I Have a Superpower is the empowering story that teaches kids you don't have to be the strongest, fastest, or even tallest kid out on the court. So long as you have heart, any goal is achievable through hard work and determination--even without a cape!



It's game day! In this action-packed picture book from Daria Peoples-Riley, the creator of the acclaimed This Is It, a young basketball player gets ready for a neighborhood pickup game.


I Got Next encourages hard work and determination and celebrates the imagination and the joy of basketball. Fans of Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut, by Derrick Barnes, will devour this exuberant book.


Time to play! Put your game face on, play to win. Fight, all the way to the end.

A young basketball player practices on the playground, preparing for an upcoming pickup game while his shadow urges him to play hard and leave his heart on the court. As the boy dribbles and weaves, shoots and scores, his shadow gives him the encouragement he needs to overcome pregame jitters and join the competition.

In the companion to her debut picture bookThis Is It, author-illustrator Daria Peoples-Riley praises hard work, dedication, and the love of the game. With vibrant artwork and a lively, rhythmic text,I Got Nextis an exceptional read-aloud.



Phoenix Suns point guard Chris Paul--NBA All-Star and former Rookie of the year, community activist, and Olympic gold medalist--shares his inspiring story of overcoming impossible odds to achieve his dream of playing professional basketball.


Everybody told Chris that he was too small to play basketball. But he ignored them all...because he had big dreams.



Before there was Michael Jordan or LeBron James or Giannis Antetokounmpo, there was Elgin Baylor, shooting, passing, and soaring through the air like no basketball player before him. Here is the story of the basketball icon and African American civil rights advocate, told with beautiful artwork and poetic text:


Hall-of-famer Baylor was one of basketball's greatest players--an innovative athlete, team player, and quiet force for change. One of the first professional African American players, he inspired others on and off the court. But when traveling for away games, many hotels and restaurants turned Elgin away because he was Black.


One night, Elgin had enough and staged a one-man protest that captured the attention of the press, the public, and the NBA. With lyrical, moving text from an award-winning author and exquisite, slam-dunk illustrations from an award-winning artist, Above the Rim is a peek into the early days of the NBA, a poetic telling of the life of an under-recognized African American athlete, and a celebration of standing up for what's right.



This biography of basketball superstar Jeremy Lin is an anthem of Asian American pride that speaks to any child who feels underestimated or misunderstood. If Lin can, you can!


Have you ever been told that you CAN'T? Growing up in the Bay Area, Jeremy Lin heard that over and over again. People made fun of his size and his race and wouldn't give him a chance. But Jeremy persevered until he became the first Taiwanese American to play in the NBA. And when his big moment came, he seized it!


Jeremy's meteoric rise, dubbed "Linsanity," inspired the world and a whole generation of young Asian Americans. As author Richard Ho puts it, "Jeremy's struggles were our struggles, so his triumphs were our triumphs. He made us believe that if he could succeed, so could we."



Michael Jordan's mother and sister team up for this heartwarming and inspirational picture book about faith and hope and how any family working together can help a child make his or her dreams come true.


Michael Jordan. The mere mention of the name conjures up visions of basketball played at its absolute best. But as a child, Michael almost gave up on his hoop dreams, all because he feared he'd never grow tall enough to play the game that would one day make him famous.


That's when his mother and father stepped in and shared the invaluable lesson of what really goes into the making of a champion--patience, determination, and hard work.




Olympic dreams come true in this inspiring picture book from Michael Jordan's mother, author of the New York Times bestselling Salt in His Shoes.


Long before he became a professional All-Star basketball player, Michael Jordan had dreams of winning an Olympic gold medal--and with dedication and perseverance, that's exactly what he did. This heartwarming picture book, written by Michael's mother and illustrated by Barry Root, gives a rare glimpse into a sports hero's childhood and emphasizes the role that good values play in success. An ideal companion to the New York Times bestselling Salt in His Shoes, this is an inspirational story for sports fans, go-getters, and anyone with big dreams!



From superstar author Derrick Barnes, here is a middle-grade celebration of the people and stories that helped shape the game of basketball, from unsung pioneers to unforgettable moments of the game.


Capturing all the joy and energy that mark the sport of basketball, bestselling and award-winning superstar author Derrick Barnes shines a light on the amazing ballers, buzzer-beaters, and record-breakers who haven't always gotten the attention they deserve. Who Got Game? Basketball, the second book in his sports series, following Who Got Game? Baseball, weaves together great storytelling, lively illustrations, and a far-ranging selection of facts, stats, sidebars, and quotes.


Middle-grade readers will discover the highest-scoring game in NCAA history. The influential center, George Mikan, who created the modern big man role, and 5'3" Muggsy Bogues, the shortest player ever to star in the pros. The pioneering Senda Berenson Abbott, creator of the women's game. The legendary Rucker Park b-ball court in Harlem, New York. Plus the first African American players and coaches, greatest comeback victories and earth-shattering slam dunks, longest winning streaks, and so much more. This book will hit you like a three-pointer from half-court!



With this high-energy collection of poems and dynamic photos celebrating twelve pro ballers, Charles R. Smith Jr. scores another slam dunk.


What's your game? Can you fly like Blake Griffin? Are you a lightning-fast force of nature like Russell Westbrook? Or are you a chameleon on the court, racking up nicknames like Steph Curry? From James Harden with his shimmy-shake-spin to "Lord of the Leap, Sir Alley of the Oop" Lebron James, here are a dozen profiles honoring the superb talents and skills of some of the best players in NBA basketball. With bold, graphic photographs and fun, accessible poems infused with his indomitable wordplay, Charles R. Smith Jr. captures the agility and finesse that each of these professionals brings to the game. Poem notes about each featured player offer further inspiration at the end.



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