The best kids’ baseball books about more than baseball

Augusta Scattergood Author Of The Way to Stay in Destiny
By Augusta Scattergood

Who am I?

I grew up in the South where stories float off front porches like fireflies. My family was made up of storytellers! As an adult and especially as a librarian and a writer of middle-grade novels, I love rooting out history readers might not know: how swimming pools closed rather than integrate, that the Vietnam War scarred many returning vets, and why so many Chinese families settled in the Deep South. My favorite books to read and to share are novels and picture books about more than what they seem— especially those that weave history into a compelling story. And I have great memories of watching and listening to baseball games with my dad. Historical fiction and baseball—a perfect combination, very close to a grand slam, no?

I wrote...

The Way to Stay in Destiny

By Augusta Scattergood,

Book cover of The Way to Stay in Destiny

What is my book about?

When Theo steps off the bus in Destiny, Florida, he’s left so much behind. Now he'll live with Uncle Raymond, a Vietnam vet who wants nothing to do with this long-lost nephew. Thank goodness for Miss Sister’s Rooming House and Dance School. Her piano calls to Theo, who can't wait to play those ivory keys. Soon feisty baseball fanatic Anabel invites Theo on her quest to uncover the town's connection to old-time ballplayers, including his favorite, Henry Aaron, and he’s found a friend.

A story with unforgettable characters, humor, and hard questions about loss, family, and belonging, this middle-grade novel celebrates baseball, piano, and small-town living in the wake of the Vietnam War. 

The books I picked & why

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By Joan Bauer,

Book cover of Soar

Why this book?

I love this story so much I’ve read it at least four times. What an endearing narrator! Everybody needs a friend like Jeremiah with his sense of humor, bravery, and love of life. Bauer always makes us laugh out loud on many pages, then she’ll break your heart for just a sentence or two. While reading and re-reading this middle-grade novel, I learned a lot about how to tell a heartwarming story that makes readers quickly turn pages to see what happens next. But with Bauer’s books, not too quick. You don’t want to miss a word!

Al Capone Does My Shirts

By Gennifer Choldenko,

Book cover of Al Capone Does My Shirts

Why this book?

A perfect example of baseball books not about baseball. Yes, Moose loves the game, and the prisoners at Alcatraz play it. But Choldenko packs so much story into her novels— backstory, asides, history, and humor. I’ve read every one of the Al Capone books and it’s hard to pick a favorite, but this is the one that started it all. I can still quote the first sentence and I still laugh out loud. I am in total awe of her writing.

In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson

By Bette Bao Lord, Marc Simont,

Book cover of In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson

Why this book?

This novel holds a special place in my book-loving heart. When the third-grade teachers at the school where I was a librarian read it aloud and used it for Literature Circles, it was one of the first books that taught me to listen carefully to what young readers shared about theme and characters and the “heart of the story.” It’s still a gold mine for topics that are relevant today.

Baseball Saved Us

By Ken Mochizuki, Dom Lee (illustrator),

Book cover of Baseball Saved Us

Why this book?

It’s been a few years since I shared this picture book with young readers, but I still remember the questions. A terrific discussion starter about immigration, Japanese culture, how we treat our fellow citizens and so much more, this beautifully-illustrated book made me curious about the internment camps. Like so many good stories, it sent me digging for more.

We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball

By Kadir Nelson,

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

Why this book?

Open this oversized book to any page and you’ll be captivated by Kadir Nelson’s gorgeous paintings and the words of the players. This remarkable book gave me a sense of how these players, including Henry Aaron for a short stint in the Negro League, faced challenges with courage, strength, and even a sense of fun. This one really is mostly about baseball, but there was so much else going on during the time of Negro League Baseball and the author manages to help us understand the history as well.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in baseball, Chinese Americans, and Negro league baseball?

5,215 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about baseball, Chinese Americans, and Negro league baseball.

Baseball Explore 74 books about baseball
Chinese Americans Explore 28 books about Chinese Americans
Negro League Baseball Explore 8 books about Negro league baseball

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Only the Ball Was White: A History of Legendary Black Players and All-Black Professional Teams, Baseball's Great Experiment: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy, and Negro League Baseball: The Rise and Ruin of a Black Institution if you like this list.