The best children's books about horse racing

Who am I?

Before I could walk, horses were my passion and every thought. At five, Blackie came into my life a black Shetland stud and from there, I've never stopped enjoying a life with horses. Having been born in the 1970's I witnessed some of the horse racing greats from the television, and ever since the Thoroughbred racehorse has been my favorite breed. I've been involved in a variety of ways with the rehabilitation and transition of the thoroughbred from the track to new careers. My most beloved OTTB, Blue Blue Sea, overcame so much, and naturally, I had to memorialize his amazing life as a book. 


I wrote...

Blue Blue Sea Finds His Cape

By Miranda N. Prather, Hayley Mullins (illustrator),

Book cover of Blue Blue Sea Finds His Cape

What is my book about?

Blue Blue Sea Finds His Cape tells the life story of a blue-collar racehorse who overcame a devastating illness to survive and inspire thousands around the globe who were facing their own struggles. The book features playful writing and delightful pictures, by Kentucky artist Hayley Mullins, that bring the tale of Blue Blue Sea to life. Blue Blue Sea was no American Pharoah, but he became a hero just the same!

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Last Black King of the Kentucky Derby

Miranda N. Prather Why did I love this book?

Jimmy “Wink” Winkfield was an accomplished athlete of his day though his memory today has faded. Crystal Hubbard's powerful narrative and Robert McGuire's gorgeous drawings transport readers to another time and place and shine a light on the last African American jockey to win the Kentucky Derby. I love how the story unfolds and shows a loving child growing into a determined young man overcoming every obstacle the world sets in front of him. The tale is timeless and the historical context provides an important learning point to open a dialogue between the old and young. 

By Crystal Hubbard, Robert McGuire (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Last Black King of the Kentucky Derby as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 6, 7, 8, and 9.

What is this book about?

Born into an African American sharecropping family in 1880s Kentucky, Jimmy Winkfield grew up loving horses. The large, powerful animals inspired little Jimmy to think big. Looking beyond his family s farm, he longed for a life riding on action-packed racetracks around the world. Like his hero, the great Isaac Murphy, Jimmy Wink Winkfield would stop at nothing to make it as a jockey. Though his path to success was wrought with obstacles both on the track and off, Wink faced each challenge with passion and a steadfast spirit. Along the way he carved out a lasting legacy as one…


Book cover of I Rode the Red Horse: Secretatriat's Belmont Race

Miranda N. Prather Why did I love this book?

A singular talent of his generation and arguably one of the greatest racehorses of all time, few are unaware of the feats of the immortal Secretariat. Prior to his record-breaking three-year-old campaign, it had been twenty-five years since the sport had crowned a Triple Crown champion. Through immersive illustrations and the words of the prized colt's jockey, Ron Turcotte, the tale comes alive to delight a new generation and bring those who were there back to the glory of the red horse.

By Barbara Libby,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I Rode the Red Horse as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 5, 6, 7, and 8.

What is this book about?

This book gives a vivid account of Secretariat's amazing and electrifying Belmont Stakes victory, which he won by an unbelievable 31 lengths to become the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years.


Book cover of We Go In A Circle

Miranda N. Prather Why did I love this book?

With darling illustrations to engage children, the tale of an everyday racehorse and a future beyond the track comes alive. Young readers easily become connected with the story through the thoughts and feelings of the average racehorse. The horse loves the track and the thrill of the win, but when an injury upends his life, he faces an uncertain future. In the end, he finds an even better calling in helping a special group of children who benefit from hippotherapy. I adore the story of how the second act of the horse is the best one of all.

By Peggy Perry Anderson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked We Go In A Circle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What happens to a racehorse who hurts his leg? Used to a world where the strongest and the fastest wins, how will he ever feel special and important again? Taken to a new place, the horse is soon carrying some very special riders. Some of them can’t walk and some of them can’t even see, but they play games, they wave, they smile. Like the horse, they may not be the strongest and the fastest, but they are all special and important. In this simple and sensitive story, Peggy Perry Anderson reveals the interconnection between everyone involved in hippotherapy and…


Book cover of Seabiscuit the Wonder Horse

Miranda N. Prather Why did I love this book?

I adore the quirky, offbeat illustrations that perfectly compliment the tale of an underdog racehorse who proved the world wrong. During his life, Seabiscuit was a big-name celebrity once the right team of owner, trainer, and jockey found him. The tale of an unlikely hero resonates beautifully during our current troubled times. McCarthy manages to use an economy of words to tell the story well to the youngest of readers. 

By Meghan McCarthy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Seabiscuit the Wonder Horse as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

Award-winning nonfiction picture book creator Meghan McCarthy tells the story of how an undersized, crooked-legged horse became one of the greatest racing champions of all time.

In the late 1930s, times were tough. The United States was in the middle of the Great Depression, and people were desperate for something to believe in. They found their inspiration in Seabiscuit, a rags-to-riches, crooked-legged, overweight horse who ran more like a duck than a champion.

Seabiscuit was the descendent of Man O' War, one of the greatest racing horses in history but he had yet to win a single race. How did…


Book cover of D Is for Derby: A Kentucky Derby Alphabet: A Kentucy Derby Alphabet

Miranda N. Prather Why did I love this book?

While learning letters youngsters can also learn about the most exciting two minutes in sports. Jaime Corum's illustrations are deeply moving and the action springs to life through them and the poetry that Helen Wilbur's words provide. Although a young reader wouldn't be able to read the book to themselves, that is actually a benefit. I love how the book demands that an adult sit down, slow time, and enjoy it with the youngster they are reading to. There is no more beautiful ride than that.

By Helen L. Wilbur, Jaime Corum (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked D Is for Derby as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 5, 6, 7, and 8.

What is this book about?

The Kentucky Derby is the oldest continuous sporting event in the United States. But don't call it just a horse race. This annual May event, known as "the most exciting two minutes in sports," is steeped in tradition and pageantry far beyond what happens on the track. Following the alphabet, D is for Derby: A Kentucky Derby Alphabet uses poetry and expository text to explain this world-famous event. Topics include famous jockeys, legendary horses, fabled Bluegrass farms and owners, as well as offering a behind-the scenes view of thoroughbred breeding and racing. Readers young and old, along with horse enthusiasts…


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The Deviant Prison: Philadelphia's Eastern State Penitentiary and the Origins of America's Modern Penal System, 1829-1913

By Ashley Rubin,

Book cover of The Deviant Prison: Philadelphia's Eastern State Penitentiary and the Origins of America's Modern Penal System, 1829-1913

Ashley Rubin Author Of The Deviant Prison: Philadelphia's Eastern State Penitentiary and the Origins of America's Modern Penal System, 1829-1913

New book alert!

Who am I?

I have been captivated by the study of prisons since my early college years. The fact that prisons are so new in human history still feels mind-blowing to me. I used to think that prisons have just always been around, but when you realize they are actually new, that has major implications. This is nowhere more clear than at the beginning: how hard it was to get to the point where prisons made sense to people, to agree on how prisons should be designed and managed, and to keep on the same path when prisons very quickly started to fail. It’s still puzzling to me.

Ashley's book list on the origins of American prisons

What is my book about?

What were America's first prisons like? How did penal reformers, prison administrators, and politicians deal with the challenges of confining human beings in long-term captivity as punishment--what they saw as a humane intervention?

The Deviant Prison centers on one early prison: Eastern State Penitentiary. Built in Philadelphia, one of the leading cities for penal reform, Eastern ultimately defied national norms and was the subject of intense international criticism.

The Deviant Prison traces the rise and fall of Eastern's unique "Pennsylvania System" of solitary confinement and explores how and why Eastern's administrators kept the system going, despite great personal cost to themselves. Anyone interested in history, prisons, and criminal justice will find something to enjoy in this book.

The Deviant Prison: Philadelphia's Eastern State Penitentiary and the Origins of America's Modern Penal System, 1829-1913

By Ashley Rubin,

What is this book about?

Early nineteenth-century American prisons followed one of two dominant models: the Auburn system, in which prisoners performed factory-style labor by day and were placed in solitary confinement at night, and the Pennsylvania system, where prisoners faced 24-hour solitary confinement for the duration of their sentences. By the close of the Civil War, the majority of prisons in the United States had adopted the Auburn system - the only exception was Philadelphia's Eastern State Penitentiary, making it the subject of much criticism and a fascinating outlier. Using the Eastern State Penitentiary as a case study, The Deviant Prison brings to light…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in racehorses, horse racing, and Kentucky?

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