6 Children’s Books That Champion Women and Girls in Sports

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Despite progress, stereotypes around women and girls in sports persist today. 

Girls should be raised in a world where “running like a girl” means pumping your arms so hard that your muscles ache and your calves burn – but you push on anyway.  A girl should hear, “You play like a girl” and beam with pride, knowing that she played with whole-hearted passion and tenacity. This message resonates powerfully in Always’ famous #LikeAGirl campaign.

At Worldreader, we believe that a world like this would reflect the strength, boldness and determination that embody young women and girls everywhere. 

But we’re not there yet.  We know that girls gain confidence, physical health and leadership skills through sports. Yet many walk away as “pressure to conform to traditionally ‘feminine’ stereotypes” increases with age1

Statistically, more than half of girls (51%) will have quit sports altogether by age 17. Research shows that ⅔ of girls feel as though society does not encourage them to play sports. And the pay gap between men and women professional athletes seems to prove that point even further2.

Books can help fight gender inequities in the world of sports. 

At Worldreader we are determined to fight gender inequity in all areas of life, including the world of sports. 

Recently, we have added the Women in Sports Collection to our free online library. This set of  25 books aims to deconstruct gender stereotypes, emphasize the benefits of physical activity, and inspire young women and girls around the world to participate in sport. Here are a few must reads from this collection for your children.

Girl on Fire by Ruby Yayra Goka

Twin siblings, Atsu and Atsufi, have had only one dream: to play for the Ghana Under-17 National Football Team. For the first time, they have a shot at their dream. Scouts have noticed their prowess at the Abedi-Pele Junior League Championships and the twins have decided to make the best out of this until Atsufi starts questioning whether looking feminine is more important to her than football.

Audience: Children and Youth, 10+

Sport: Soccer

Read it here

Our Flag & Thandi’s Mountain Bike by Hilary Atkinson

Colorful picture books for children learning to read. The stories depict girls and their journey with sports. Through rugby and mountain biking, these empowering stories show girls developing their passion for sports while striving to become professional athletes.

Audience: Children, 5-7 

Sports: Rugby and Mountain Bike

Read it here  and here

(For early readers: Read it here and here)

Shooting Stars by Liz Gifford and Clare Hanbury

Shooting Stars is a story about girls supporting each other to participate in sports. It’s about how they overcome their feelings of shame for wanting to play volleyball and are helped by Camille, a professional volleyball player who inspires the girls and their school community. The girls learn that through sport they can develop their self-confidence and life skills as well as have a lot of fun together. 

Audience: Children, 9-12

Sport: Volleyball

Read it here

Ability in Disability by Lucy-Joy Wachira, Nkatha Muthomi and Francis M. Mwangi

Joy was born with one arm. She likes watching other children play but is afraid to join them. Joy starts to participate in sports after she is inspired by a newspaper article about a sports hero born without a left leg. This story shows that children without disabilities and those with disabilities can enjoy sports together.

Audience: Children, 5-9

Sport: Para-athletics

Read it here

Going for Gold: Brilliant Women of the Olympic Games by Emma Roberts

Going for Gold celebrates the incredible achievements of 30 brilliant women from 17 different countries who made history in the Olympic Games. The sportswomen featured include world famous figures like Simone Biles and Serena Wiliams as well as pioneers such as Nawal El Moutawakel, the first Muslim Olympic Medalist, and athlets with fenomenal life stories, like Yusra Mardini from the Refugee Team in Rio 2016.

Audience: Children and Youth, 10+

Sports: 18 Olympic and Paralympic sports

Read it here

NOTE: These books can be accessed only on mobile phones and tablets.

Special thanks to Lisa Brummel for making this Women in Sports Collection possible!