The best picture books to help children develop good sportsmanship

Claire Annette Noland Author Of Evie's Field Day: More Than One Way to Win
By Claire Annette Noland

Who am I?

As a children’s librarian, teacher, and parent, I know that children have big feelings. I write heart-filled books that speak to the issues that they deal with while navigating new experiences. I was inspired to write Evie’s Field Day because of the frustrations most children deal with when they lose. I hope that my book will encourage children to enjoy the process of playing sports and games with others and the rewards of being a friend and a good sport.


I wrote...

Evie's Field Day: More Than One Way to Win

By Claire Annette Noland, Alicia Teba (illustrator),

Book cover of Evie's Field Day: More Than One Way to Win

What is my book about?

Evie loves to run, jump, hop, and win. So, when the school’s field day comes around, she plans to add to her growing collection of ribbons and trophies. Unfortunately, Evie struggles and loses each competition. She wants to be happy for her friends, but it is so hard to lose! Finally, Evie finds herself ahead of the pack but when faced with a choice she learns that there is more than one way to win.

Children will root for Evie as she learns to navigate the playground in this celebration of competition, teamwork, friendship, sportsmanship, and the challenge of losing. The backmatter includes suggestions for helping children learn to be good sports whether they win or lose.

The books I picked & why

Shepherd is reader supported. We may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through links on our website. This is how we fund this project for readers and authors (learn more).

Janine and the Field Day Finish

By Maryann Cocca-Leffler,

Book cover of Janine and the Field Day Finish

Why this book?

Janine is good at lots of things like singing, spelling, and cheering.  But she’s not good at sports and is bullied and teased by her competitive classmate, Abbie. Janine runs the race and doesn’t mind being in last place. She’s just glad to participate.  When Abbie falls, Janine is the one who stops, helps her up, and together they cross the finish line.

Janine is the best kind of competitor – kind and encouraging as she urges everyone to do their best. Children with different abilities are included in all the activities making this book an inclusive celebration of sportsmanship.

Janine and the Field Day Finish

By Maryann Cocca-Leffler,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Janine and the Field Day Finish as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Janine is back!

Today is field day and even though Janine is not good at sports, she is ready to compete. Her body just doesn't work like the other kids'. But no matter what, Janine cheers for everyone and tries her best. During the big race, her classmate Abby trips and falls. Janine is right there to help. But Abby is crushed that she won't win the race. Can Janine teach Abby and her classmates that being a winner is not always about being number one?


Lucia Lacorte, Poor Sport

By Christianne Jones, Marisa Morea (illustrator),

Book cover of Lucia Lacorte, Poor Sport

Why this book?

Llama Lucia may be the self-appointed founder and president of the Get Gaming Club but she is a terrible sport. She pouts when she loses and gloats when she wins. Before long, her friends won’t play with her. Her grandfather will play but it turns out he’s a worse sport than Lucia who begins to realize how her bad behavior upsets her friends.

This child-friendly book is perfect to begin discussions on cheating, fairness, and how to be good at both winning and losing.

Lucia Lacorte, Poor Sport

By Christianne Jones, Marisa Morea (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lucia Lacorte, Poor Sport as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Lucia Lacorte loves games. But few friends enjoy playing games with her. When she loses, she cries and yells. And when she wins, its even worse: she dances around and rubs it in. You see, Lucia Lacorte is a very poor sport. Can anyone get through to Lucia and show her that being a good sport is the fun in fun and games? Author Christianne Jones uses humour and rhyme to teach early learners about the importance of good sportsmanship in this entertaining picture book from the Little Boost series.


Jackie Wins Them All

By Fabian E. Ferguson, Alisa Aryutova (illustrator),

Book cover of Jackie Wins Them All

Why this book?

Talented Jackie seems to be good at everything from tennis to chess. She expects to win the race and is shocked when another girl passes her. Jackie isn’t used to losing and the hurt it causes. After acknowledging her disappointment, Jackie reaches out and congratulates her competitor.

This upbeat story features athletes of color who exemplify good sportsmanship and remind readers that “things won’t always work out – you can’t win them all. Work hard, give your best, and do all you can do.” It shows children how to graciously accept defeat.

Jackie Wins Them All

By Fabian E. Ferguson, Alisa Aryutova (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Jackie Wins Them All as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Whether Jackie wins or loses, she is still amazing. This book helps guardians and parents open up the discussion with kids on how to win and lose gracefully.

Jackie Wins Them All?is an unforgettable coming-of-age picture book for children. It tells the story of a gifted sixth grader, Jackie J. Spade, who has a knack for winning everything she's tried her hand at. Science fairs, spelling bees, swimming, and skating, and just about anything you can imagine!

But Jackie is about to take on her biggest challenge, the big city track meet! Will she win the trophy or will she…


Winners Never Quit!

By Mia Hamm, Carol Thompson (illustrator),

Book cover of Winners Never Quit!

Why this book?

Written by soccer superstar, Mia Hamm, this book shows her as a young girl and how she learned to deal with disappointment while learning the sport with her brothers and sisters. She loved being praised when she did well but she became angry and quit when she missed goals. There was a consequence – when she returned to play, she wasn’t welcomed back because “winners never quit.”

There is so much to love about this book as it shows a phenomenal athlete as a girl and the origins of her love of soccer. Also, difficult emotions that children experience are explored (without being preachy) as the young Mia learns a valuable lesson. The illustrations are adorable!

Winners Never Quit!

By Mia Hamm, Carol Thompson (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Winners Never Quit! as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“An inspiring tale.” —Parents Magazine

Mia Hamm, American soccer champion and bestselling author of Go for the Goal, tells a true-life-inspired story in this picture book.

Winners Never Quit! can help with the emotional side of playing sports—how to deal with a loss without getting angry or quitting, and how to be a good teammate. A strong choice for the young athlete in your family or classroom.

Soccer superstar Mia Hamm knows the value of teamwork and perseverance. She shares this lesson, paired with energetic illustrations by Carol Thompson, in this motivational story.


I Really Want to Win

By Simon Philip, Lucia Gaggiotti (illustrator),

Book cover of I Really Want to Win

Why this book?

On School Sports Day, an exuberant girl is already planning her celebration because she knows she is going to win. When she loses several competitions to another girl, she is anything but gracious as she makes excuses and decides sports aren’t her thing. She wants trophies and ribbons so she competes in a spelling bee and dance contest and loses – to the same competitor! Our narrator is mad but when she sees her nemesis lose and happily congratulate the winner, she begins to understand that winning isn’t everything.

Filled with humor and whimsy, this is a book where children can easily identify good and bad sportsmanship as they come to realize that doing their best is what really matters. It also shows that everyone has special talents – they just need to practice to get better.

I Really Want to Win

By Simon Philip, Lucia Gaggiotti (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I Really Want to Win as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Today is Sports Day. I CAN'T WAIT! And as I know that I'll be great, I've planned how I will celebrate - because I'm going to win.

Our heroine is determined that she's going to win all the events at school sports day. The problem is that winning isn't as easy as it looks. She doesn't win the running race or the tug of war - and she can't even win a game of hide-and-seek. But maybe winning isn't really the point?

A joyful picture book with an important message from the author and illustrator of I Really Want the…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in sportsmanship, life satisfaction, and people with disabilities?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about sportsmanship, life satisfaction, and people with disabilities.

Sportsmanship Explore 5 books about sportsmanship
Life Satisfaction Explore 134 books about life satisfaction
People With Disabilities Explore 46 books about people with disabilities

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The One Thing, An Ordinary Age, and Bravey if you like this list.