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Take Me Out to the Ball Park

Take Me Out to the Ball Park: Booklist

What is better on a warm summer afternoon than a game of baseball? It is the great American pastime, after all! Meet baseball players whose passion broke various barriers and find out about the history of the game.

A Strong Right Arm: The Story of Mamie "Peanut" Johnson

By: Michelle Green
Illustrated by: Kadir Nelson
Genre: Nonfiction, Biography
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

At just over 5 feet tall, no one thought Mamie Johnson, also known as "Peanut" because of her size, would become a baseball star. But she sure could pitch! The author collaborated with the actual Mamie Johnson to tell the riveting — and real — story of how Peanut Johnson became one of three women to play professionally in the Negro Baseball League.

All Star! Honus Wagner & the Most Famous Baseball Card Ever

By: Jane Yolen
Genre: Nonfiction, Biography
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

The baseball card of "…the bandy-legged son of German immigrants" sold for almost three million dollars in 2007. Honus Wagner was an all-around player who could hit, run, and play shortstop equally well. Highlights of his life and some of the myths that swirled up around him are presented in evocative, energetic text and handsome paintings.

Baseball from A to Z

By: Michael Spradlin
Genre: Nonfiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Comic illustrations effectively combine with a straightforward text to bring baseball terms to life. From A ("Ace. The best pitcher on the team…") to Z ("Strike Zone. To be in the strike zone, a pitch must be…") the alphabet is a device used to introduce all things baseball, likely to be appreciated by even young aficionados.

Casey at the Bat

By: Ernest Thayer
Illustrated by: Christopher Bing
Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Myths and Legends
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Ernest Thayer's now-classic ballad about Mudville's mighty slugger has been newly and magnificently illutrated by Christopher Bing. The story is rendered as though it had been newly discovered in a hundred-year-old scrapbook. A Caldecott Honor Book.

Girl Wonder: A Baseball Story in Nine Innings

By: Deborah Hopkinson
Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

She seemed born to pitch when growing up in a small Ohio town and pitch she did at a time when women only wore skirts or dresses. Stylized illustrations combine with the fictionalized voice of Alta Weiss to present a memorable glimpse of early baseball, one young woman's passion for the game, and a quick look at women in the sport.

Henry Aaron's Dream

By: Matt Tavares
Genre: Nonfiction, Biography
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

In spite of growing up in the 1940s before the United States was integrated, in a segregated Mobile, Alabama, Henry Aaron dreamed of playing baseball. His perseverance and courage paid off; he was to become one of the most talented and revered players, whose major league career spanned from 1954 through 1976. He was also a vocal spokesperson for equality between white and black players. Aaron's early life, his career, and his impact on the game are revealed in an honest, sometimes difficult text and richly colored paintings.

Home-Run King

By: Patricia McKissack
Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

There were always discoveries to be made in their grandmother's attic; and Gee always had a story to go along with it. On this visit, the cousins find an autographed baseball that leads to a story about the Negro Baseball League and its stars, Josh Gibson and Satchel Paige. Exciting, predictable, and well-paced, this is sure to appeal to children.

Just Like Josh Gibson

By: Angela Johnson
Illustrated by: Beth Peck
Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Independent Reader

The year the narrator's grandma was born, Negro League great Josh Gibson hit a baseball so hard it went all the way from Pittsburgh and landed in Philadelphia! No surprise then that Grandmama learns to play baseball just like Josh Gibson. Warm and expressive illustrations depict this nostalgic saga of two heroes — Gibson and Grandmama.

Let's Play Baseball

By: Charles Smith
Illustrated by: Terry Widener
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

A baseball encourages a boy to play the game, to enjoy the sounds, excitement, and camaraderie of the game. The short, rhyming text is accompanied by humorous illustrations for a playful look at baseball for younger children.

Lou Gehrig: The Luckiest Man

By: David Adler
Illustrated by: Terry Widener
Genre: Nonfiction, Biography
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Lou Gehrig played 2130 consecutive games for the Yankees (a record that stood until Cal Ripkin many years later). His story as a baseball great is told simply and with humility, reflecting the man himself. As his health deteriorated, Gehrig gave his farewell to a filled Yankee Stadium, declaring he was indeed the "luckiest man on the face of the earth."

Mighty Jackie: The Strike-Out Queen

By: Marissa Moss
Illustrated by: C. F. Payne
Genre: Nonfiction, Biography
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Jackie loved to pitch baseball. Her long practices paid off when at 17-years old she pitched for the Chattanooga Lookouts in a demonstration game against the New York Yankees. Jackie struck out both Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig — and forever changed baseball's rules. The excitement of Jackie Mitchell's story is well-paced, illustrated with slightly exaggerated and altogether winning illustrations.

My Baseball Book

By: Gail Gibbons
Genre: Nonfiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

The basic rules and equipment of baseball are introduced in simple words and straightforward illustrations. Those interested in the nitty-gritty of the game will appreciate this practical presentation.

No Easy Way: The Story of Ted Williams and the Last .400 Season

By: Fred Bowen
Illustrated by: Chuck Pyle
Genre: Nonfiction, Biography
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Ted Williams never flinched at hard work or a challenge. In his last season with the Boston Red Sox, Williams had to decide if he wanted to take the chance and lose his rare .400 average or go to bat. Williams' decision creates a riveting read in this handsome and thoughtful look at one man's ethics and the times in which he lived.

Players in Pigtails

By: Shana Corey
Genre: Nonfiction, Biography
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Katie Casey follows her passion for baseball and winds up playing for one of the professional girls' teams — and wins. The little known opening of a well-known tune, "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," inspired this fictionalized look at the professional all-girls baseball league that thrived during World War II.

She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story

By: Audrey Vernick
Illustrated by: Don Tate
Genre: Nonfiction, Biography
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Effa Manley, born when jazz was new and sports were segregated, was passionate about fairness and baseball. She was to become the first woman inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame along with players from the Negro Baseball League. Her life is presented in stylized illustration and clear text, for an intriguing portrait of a person and a time.

Stealing Home: Jackie Robinson Against the Odds

By: Robert Burleigh
Genre: Nonfiction, Biography
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Lush, realistic illustrations combine with a simple text to suggest what it must have been like when the pioneering Jackie Robinson played ball for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Additional factual information is included in what is made to look like baseball cards on each page. The result is a handsome book that can be appreciated by different ages.

The Rookie Blue Jay

By: David Kelly
Illustrated by: Mark Meyers
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Baseball fans Mike and Kate solve the mystery surrounding the lackluster play of their favorite rookie. Fans of baseball are sure to enjoy this easier to read mystery, the latest in an appealing series.

This Is the Game

By: Diane Shore, Jessica Alexander
Illustrated by: Owen Smith
Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Stylized illustrations place readers in the 1920s and 1930s, a time when baseball was played on the streets, listened to on radio, and enjoyed in stadiums. A rhythmic text introduces some of the period's heroes while capturing its spirit.

We Are the Ship: The Story of the Negro League Baseball

By: Kadir Nelson
Genre: Nonfiction, Biography
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader

An introduction by baseball great Hank Aaron opens this riveting look at the history of the Negro League. A large format supports revealing portraits of League players and an absorbing narration revealed in nine innings. Endnotes and further readings conclude this memorable and accessible history.

You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax?

By: Jonah Winter
Illustrated by: Andre Carrilho
Genre: Nonfiction, Biography
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Sandy Koufax's early career with the Brooklyn Dodgers was not terribly memorable. But by 1961, the team had moved to Los Angeles and Koufax had perfected his pitch. His amazing story his told through the voice of an unnamed teammate and illustrated with stylized, stunning illustrations.

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