Take Me Out to the Ballgame

Ages 6-8

Curator Rebekah K.

Curator Rebekah K.

Why I Created This Kit:

I grew up enjoying baseball – watching the local minor league team, listening to a game on the radio as we traveled in the summer, and pitching in the back yard so my brother could practice for his park league games. I loved knowing that my hometown had also been the home of a professional women’s baseball team. Now I watch baseball games on the television & look out my patio door to watch the fireworks at the end of games at the nearby stadium. A good baseball game is the highlight of a summer day.


Note: This kit contains some nonfiction texts for older readers to accommodate baseball lovers


Did You Know?

  • Ball games have been popular in many cultures.
  • Ancient Egyptians played seker hemat with a bat and a ball.
  • Native Americans play lacrosse for sport today, but used to play lacrosse for holidays and for training.
  • Cricket has been played in England since the 1500s.
  • Baseball has been popular in Japan since the 1870s.

 

Baseball in the United States

  • We know baseball has been played in the United States since the 1700s because of a 1791 law that required baseball had to be played more than 80 yards away from the meeting house in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. (Source: http://baseball.isport.com/baseball-history/)
  • American baseball clubs were formed in the 1860s.
  • Little League started in 1939 with 3 teams and a total of 30 players. Nearly 2 ½ million children, ages 4 to 18 play Little League baseball. You can read more about Little League on their website. The Little League World Series broadcasts over one hundred games every year. Check listings for times and stations.

 

Superstitions and Traditions

  • Baseball players do not step on the chalk foul line when they leave or enter the dugout, it’s bad luck.
  • Many players and fans turn their hats inside-out for luck.
  • Some players wear the same hat, socks, or shirt every game for luck.

 


Book Recommendations

Nonfiction Books

Baseball Is … by Louise Borden, illustrated by Raúl Colón

Ages 7-10

Baseball Is… provides a wealth of information for fans new to the game and to those of us who have loved baseball for years. We enjoyed the facts, illustrations, and the layout of the text. Read about the leagues, the history, and the sheer enjoyment of baseball in Baseball Is...

"Love of our national game shines in every word and picture. A grand slam." (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)

 

Hey Batta Batta Swing! The Wild Old Days of Baseball by Sally Cook and James Charlton, illustrated by Ross MacDonald

Ages 6-10

Baseball hasn’t always been the game we play and watch today. Sally Cook shares facts and exciting stories about the changing game of baseball. We learned some interesting facts about the history of the game and a few new ball terms from the definitions in Hey Batta Batta Swing!  

“With a signature style that recalls vintage cartoons, MacDonald's (Another Perfect Day) watercolor and pencil crayon illustrations pleasingly convey the text's lighthearted tone. Baseball buffs will find this a diverting—and occasionally wild—outing indeed.” (Publishers Weekly, Starred Review)

 

The Visual Dictionary of Baseball by James Buckley, Jr.

The Visual Dictionary of Baseball provides fan-accessible facts, history, and vocabulary of baseball with labeled photographs. Even the youngest readers can enjoy this dictionary with a little reading help. I like that you can look up information or flip through the pages to discover the world of baseball.


Fiction

Mr. Putter and Tabby Drop the Ball by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Arthur Howard

Ages 6-9

Lexile 410

When Mr. Putter and Mrs. Teaberry join an oldsters’ baseball team, Tabby (Mr. Putter’s cat) makes a contented benchwarmer, but Zeke (Mrs. Teaberry’s dog) chases every hit ball, snatches it, and runs around in circles. Their teammates grumble until Zeke and Mr. Putter save the day. (Booklist)

 

 

The Lucky Baseball Bat by Matt Christopher

Ages 6-8

Lexile 450

Martin learns a lesson on his new neighborhood Little League team. What he thinks is only good luck is really skill; but, Martin, like many baseball players, thinks he cannot win without the lucky ball and bat. What will Martin do when he cannot find his lucky bat?  

The short chapters in The Lucky Baseball Bat help early readers transition to chapter books.

 

Miami Jackson Makes the Play by Patricia McKissack and Fred McKissack, illustrated by Michael Chesworth

Ages 6-9

Lexile 470L

School is out and Miami is off to baseball camp. Miami's best friend, String, and Miami's rival, Destinee Tate, show up at camp, too, along with Asher, a wildly talented, blind umpire, and Kenneth, a bully with a bad attitude. Camp is fun, but there's plenty of friction: Destinee campaigns for coed teams, and Miami teams up with Kenneth to fight the idea, straining his friendship with String. Counselor Lincoln reminds the boys about choices, and, in the end, Miami votes for the coed team. (Amazon)

We enjoyed learning about loyalty & friendships, devoured the illustrations, and laughed at the Atwater campers. The chapters in Miami Jackson Makes the Play are short enough to help readers transition to longer chapter books.

 

Tyrannosaurus Dad by Liz Rosenberg, illustrated by Matthew Myers

Ages 4-7

Lexile AD560

Human boy Tobias eagerly awaits Field Day, when the big game will be played. He would love for Dad—who just happens to be a Tyrannosaurus—to go, but he is always working. In not-so-subtle ways Tobias reminds his hulking father how important this is to him, but the dinosaur remains absorbed in the newspaper, swamped with paperwork and glued to his laptop. Field Day arrives, and Tobias goes alone. All seems well until the dreaded Chickenbone Gang comes, demanding to play ball. Tobias is about to take on the head bully when "an unexpected voice" thunders, "I'LL UMP!" The reptile's level-headed problem-solving and firm yet fair presence save the day. " 'What made you come today?' asked Tobias. 'Family first.' Tyrannosaurus Dad said. 'Work can wait.' " Rosenberg's well-paced dialogue and succinct descriptions are enlivened by Myers' colorful, retro-styled oil paintings of suburbia, full of expressive faces and scene-setting detail. His reluctantly kind Tyrannosaurus is portrayed as a larger-than-life creature with a mean countenance but a warm heart. Sounds like many dads out there. (Kirkus/Zoobean)

Here is the book trailer!

 

A Girl Named Dan by Dandi Daley Mackall, illustrated by Renee Graef

Ages 7-11

Lexile 590

Dan loves baseball, but the boys don’t want girls on their team. Everywhere she turns, baseball in 1961 is “no girl’s allowed”. Dan enters an essay in the contest to be a batboy for the A’s, even though it’s another boy’s only baseball opportunity. Of course, the A’s won’t let a girl be their batboy; but, this girl not-so-pink girl is not a quitter! We were inspired by Dan’s love of baseball and her never-give-up attitude.

Award: Amelia Bloomer List

 

Bats at the Ballgame by Brian Lies

Lexile: AD620L

Lies’ famous bats are busy again. This time, they’ve taken up baseball.  The fantastic illustrations and “bat ball” cards snagged our attention and the rhyming text kept us entertained.  We won’t try any of the Cricket Jacks the vendors sell, but we might watch a few games upside-down.

“...as a read-aloud by a baseball fan, it’s sure to inspire a love of the game—and maybe of bats as well.”  (Kirkus)

Here is the book trailer!

 

Randy Riley’s Really Big Hit by Chris Van Dunsen

Ages 4-7

Lexile 660

Poor Randy, he cannot hit that ball. He gets distracted by the science of baseball and gets struck out. After the game, Randy discovers that a fireball is heading right for his town. How will our hero save the town?

We loved Randy’s use of science and baseball to rescue his town. Who knew a robot could hit a home run!

 

Betsy’s Day at the Game by Greg Bancroft, illustrated by Katherine Blackmore

Ages 6-9

Lexile 670

Betsy spends the day at the baseball park enjoying a game with her grandfather as she learns how to keep score in her notebook. (School Library Journal)

Baseball + grandpa = “It doesn’t get much better!”

We loved the relationship between not-so-pink Betsy and her grandfather. You could use Betsy’s Day at the Game to start a conversation about the traditions your family enjoys together. Share your memories about a tradition you and a parent, grandparent, aunt, or uncle enjoyed together and ask your child, “What do you and _____ (grandma, grandpa, etc) do together that you will remember forever?” and “Are there any traditions we need to start?”

A Mom’s Choice Gold Award Winner

 

Roasted Peanuts by Tim Egan

Ages 4-8

Lexile AD740

We agree with Sam and Jackson, there is nothing better than baseball.  We cheered for Sam when he made the team, we were sad when Jackson the cat didn’t make the team; but, we loved watching Sam and Jackson enjoy baseball.

Award: Parent’s Choice Award


Read Alouds

Yang the Youngest and His Terrible Ear by Lensey Namioka

Ages 8-12

Lexile 700

In addition to adjusting to a new country, Yingtao has to make new friends. Yingtao is a natural ball player while his family are all musicians. We wondered if Yingtao and one of his new, musical friends would be able to trick Yingtao’s parent’s into thinking it is really Yingtao playing in the recital.

Reading chapter books together help children’s attention spans to grow. If 10 to 12 page chapters are too long, start by reading about 5 minutes each day. At the end of the reading, ask your child, “how do you think this chapter will end?” Write the prediction on a sticky note and find out in tomorrow’s reading if the prediction was correct.  Young listener’s will soon be able to listen to an entire chapter. Even when they can listen to an entire chapter, you don’t have to quit making predictions, simply ask, “What do you think will happen in the next chapter?”

 

The Zippity Zinger by Henry Winkler, illustrated by Carol Heyer

Lexile 730

Baseball players of all ages have good luck socks, bats, hats, or shirts. Hank is no exception. We cracked up when we discovered that Hank pitched the “Zippity Zinger” because he was wearing his sister’s socks. We wondered, will Hank be able to pitch the “Zippity Zinger” again? Will Emily let him continue wearing her lucky socks? Will Hank lose the game for P.S. 87?

 

Catching the Moon: The Story of a Young Girl’s Baseball Dream by Crystal Hubbard and Randy DuBurck

Ages 6-10

Lexile AD 760

We held our breath waiting to see if Marcenia, an inspirational,  never quit, not-so-pink ball player, would ever make the team. We loved that this work of historical fiction is partially based on the life of Toni Stone, the first woman in professional baseball.

Hubbard writes “with sensory precision that conveys the thrilling feel of playing ("the powdery taste of dust clouds"; "the sting" of a baseball slamming into a mitt), while DuBurke's textured ink and acrylic images emphasize Marcenia's excitement on the field and yearning at home.” (Amazon)

Award: Amelia Bloomer List


Activities

Talk About It

Play Ball! Summer is a great time to head to the park to play a little baseball.

Talk about the way baseball works. Ask your child what kind of simple machines need to be used during a baseball game and talk about ways we can use those and other simple machines.

You could begin a conversation this way, “This batter is using a bat to hit the ball. It’s not complicated, it’s a simple machine. Which simple machine do you think a bat is?” If your child is unsure, list a few simple machines, such as wedge, pulley, and lever. Let him / her think through the simple machines, then chat about why a bat is a lever and how it works.  If he / she thought a bat was something other than a lever, ask, “How does that simple machine work? What makes you say a bat is that simple machine?” Listen to his / her thoughts. If talking it through hasn’t helped your child realize a bat is a lever, you can ask, “How does a bat work?” You can go outside to practice using a bat as you think about how the bat works. Then ask, “Could a bat be a different simple machine than the one you thought it was?” In baseball, the human shoulder is the fulcrum, muscles provide the force, and the bat is a lever. Can you find other ways you can use levers?


Source: Science Matters Blog

Source: Science Matters Blog

Exploring Levers

What you will need:

  • 2 rulers
  • Pencil
  • Five coins
  • Tape
  • A sheet of paper


What to do:

  1. Make a lever by placing a ruler (lever) across top of a pencil (fulcrum)
  2. Tape together 5 coins and place them at the one-inch mark on the ruler
  3. Lift the load by pressing down on the other end of the ruler with one finger, paying attention to how much pressure you need to exert to lift the load.
  4. Change the position of the pencil and press down again. Try several different positions, noting how much pressure is needed to lift the load in each position.


Questions to discuss:

  • Where was the pencil fulcrum when it was the easiest to lift?
  • Where was the pencil fulcrum when it was the hardest to lift?
  • Where was the pencil fulcrum when the load was lifted with no effort? Why or why not?

Remind your child that the closer the fulcrum is to the load, the easier it is to lift the load because less effort is required.

(Source: NOVA)


The video, How Levers Work, will help you understand the principles of levers and fulcrums.


Play Ball!

Get outside and get active this summer! Hand baseball can be played on the lawn or at the park. Simply mark bases with a beanbag and grab a beach ball for pitching. Bat with your hands & enjoy a summer hand baseball game.

 

Play Sports Tracker

Format: iTunes for $1.99

Use an app, like Play Sports Tracker, from Coconut Island Apps, to calculate the amount of time you spend on sports activities.

 

While you’re at park, look at the baseball field to identify all the shapes you can find. Sesame Street’s Murray at the Baseball Field helps us identify shapes at the field. Which shapes can you identify as you walk to the park?


Vocabulary Journal

Build some vocabulary while you enjoy the sport. How can baseball increase our vocabulary? Any new information we take in broadens our vocabulary. If you and your child want to keep a vocabulary journal for the new words you want to remember, here’s an idea to get you started.

What you will need:

  • A notebook or handmade paper
  • Decorative Paper, stickers, or stamps
  • Ribbon, string, or yarn for a bookmark
  • Pens, pencils, or markers

What to do:

  1. Decorate your notebook to make it personal
  2. Divide the notebook into 26 - 30 sections, one for each letter of the alphabet and sections for each additional language you want to learn new words in (Spanish, French, Chinese, etc.)
  3. Add new baseball words and label them
    • -       means “I don’t know this word”
    • +   means “I have heard or read this word but can’t tell you what it means”
    • A smile :)  means “I own this word and I use it”

In your dictionary, include the word, definition, and one or two sentences you write together, using the word. You can ask your child how they would use this word and you can share one or two sentences of your own, then choose one to record in the dictionary.

Perhaps there were some new vocabulary words in some of these baseball books. Help your child look up their definitions and add them to his or her personal dictionary. Make a contest of seeing how many new words everyone at your house can integrate into conversations. One way to turn vocabulary building into a game is to announce a word and ask everyone at the table, or in the car, to think of another word with a similar meaning. See how many synonyms everyone can think of.

Some words to get you started:

  • lever and fulcrum
  • statistics (Some key baseball stats are explained on MLB.com)
  • decimal, percentage, and average (Calculate averages using this online calculator)
  • momentum, force, and velocity  

Explain that the baseball’s momentum (the ball in motion at a certain velocity or speed)       can be stopped using force (collision with the bat), then watch it happen in a ball game or try it out with your own bat and ball, using the words to make them part of regular vocabulary.


Songs

  1. Take Me Out To the Ball GameThe on-screen lyrics will help you and your children learn the words to the age-old favorite, “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” and the computer animation keeps viewers engaged through two verses of the song.
  2. “Baseball on the Block” from John McCutcheon’s album Family GardenBuilding on the beloved “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” John McCutcheon’s folk song for children takes us outside to that empty lot where we played a neighborhood game of baseball using whatever we had on hand for the bases. Fun for kids and nostalgic for those of us who grew up playing baseball on the block. Available on iTunes and Google Play
  3. Charlie Brown T-E-A-MCharlie Brown’s team gets crushed in every game, every season; but, Charlie Brown’s team sure is excited to sing about being a team.  Their team spirit is exciting and the catchy tune will have you singing along.

Videos

Walt Disney Presents Goofy: How to Play Baseball

The bases are loaded, can Goofy save the World Series? This short cartoon, featuring Goofy in every role, is a fast-moving, entertaining view of baseball. Though it is not intended to be factual, you can glean a few pieces of information as you enjoy Goofy’s unusual pitching style.

 

How It's Made

The How It’s Made short videos below take us into the factory to watch a bat and ball being made. Before viewing, you could ask your child to explain to you how he or she thinks a bat and ball could be made. Enjoy the creative answers and nearly accurate predictions of your little baseball fan. After watching ask, “Were we right when we thought bats and balls were made by ___________?” and “3-2-1: what are 3 things you learned from the videos, 2 questions you have after watching, and 1 thing you want to share tonight at the supper table?”

 

How Stuff Works -- How baseball works

Did you know that someone washes the bases before each baseball game? Watch the stadium crew at one minor league park prepare for the game and see some of the behind-the-scenes work that goes on during the game to keep the ball park working.

 

Listen to Batter Up Wombat by Helen Lester, illustrated by Lynn Munsinger

Grab a copy of Batter Up Wombat to read along or simply watch as Wombat, lately come from Australia,  gets more and more confused by this entirely American game called baseball.

 

2013 Little League World Series

Check out a recap of the 2013 Little League World Series winning game.

In 2013, Japan took the lead over Mexico to win the international title during the Little League World Series. Watch highlights of the game as the players make some amazing plays. Check out the 6th inning where the shortstop makes a great catch and an out.

Note: ESPN holds the copyright on the Little League games they broadcast and makes their archival footage available on their website for viewing.


Movie Night Pick

Air Bud: Seventh Inning Fetch (Rated G)

Buddy has a tall order in “Seventh Inning Fetch.” Buddy’s puppies, the middle school baseball team, and the Anaheim Angels all need rescuing. Will Buddy rescue his puppies from his nemesis, Rocky Raccoon? Will the Anaheim Angels win the World Series? Or, will Buddy strike out on the baseball team?

This movie is aimed at children who will enjoy the action and simple, non-scary adventure.

Parents will appreciate that they don’t have to worry about language or violence.


Poems

Casey at the Bat: A Ballad of the Republic Sung in the Year 1888 by Ernest Lawrence Thayer, illustrated by Christopher Bing

Ages 4-9

This Casey at the Bat scrapbook includes the original poem, pen-and-ink illustrations that look like old newspaper clippings, and historical information about the game.  Explore reproduction vintage tickets, baseball cards, and other momentos as you enjoy the ballad of Casey and the Mudville Nine.

“An exceptionally clever picture book.” (Publishers Weekly/ Zoobean)

 

Hear Casey At the Bat

Disney’s animated Casey At the Bat brings the ballad to life with accented voices and music. Try adding voices to one of the poems below to bring “Play Ball!” or “Winner” to life.  Ask your child, “What emotions do you think the speaker is feeling at the beginning of this poem?” and “What would the poem sound like if we read it with those feelings?” Read it together, adding feeling to your voices. Then move on to the feelings felt in the middle and at the end of the poem. For example, in “Play Ball!” I can almost hear the nervous excitement buidling through the entire poem, so I’d start reading and just get more and more excited until I hit the final line, “Hurrah for me!”

If you memorize poetry together, try to communicate the lively emotions when you recite. It might come out a little different each time -- enjoy!

 

Play Ball!

By Lillian M. Fisher

It was my turn to bat

And I hit the ball

So hard it sailed

Right over the wall.

The crowd went wild.

I started to run.

How happy I’d be

If my team won.

First base, second,

Third – I’m home free!

Hurrah for my team!

Hurrah for me!

From Hopkins, Lee Bennett, 1999. Sports! Sports! Sports! HarperCollins

 

Winner

by Gene Fehler

what I remember most

is my dad behind the rusted screen

back of home plate

"You can hit this guy!"

his voice not letting up

through four fast balls

(two misses swinging late,

two fouls on checked swings)

then the curve ball and the dying quail

into left-center,

the winning run sliding home,

my dad all smiles,

slapping backs in the bleachers

as if HIS single had won the game

From Morrison, Lillian, 1992. At the Crack of the Bat Hyperion Books for Children


Games and Apps

Game

Math Baseball

Players compete for home runs by answering math problems. Four levels are available for each player. Addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division problems can be chosen. Algebra can be included,  if you choose.

 

Apps

Charlie Brown’s All-Stars

Ages 4-8

Loud Crow continues to build a library of classic-books-turned-apps, and their usual professionalism is on display here. The original art by Schulz is crisp and vivid, with limited animations added on top. The music (smooth-jazz piano, naturally) and voices are clear and well-done. Tapping the characters often produces additional, humorous lines of dialogue that aren't in the readable text at the bottom of the screen. The real strength of the app, of course, is in the enduring appeal of the original cartoon, and the inescapable pathos of the well-meaning, but hapless, title character. This is a long story - anticipate a week's worth of bedtime installments. (Josia L., Zoobean Curator)

 

Sport Terms

Ages 5+

When you’re watching the game and don’t understand something the sport’s casters say, fire up an app, like Sport Terms,  for a quick explanation.

iTunes Cost: Free

Requires iOS 6.0 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. This app is optimized for iPhone 5.


Baseball History

Three groups of people hold unique baseball history in the United States because of their exclusion from baseball based on ethnicity or gender. Each of these groups made baseball work for them and their stories open conversations about overcoming bias, perseverance, and breaking down barriers.

Did You Know?

  • Japanese-Americans built baseball fields and played baseball in internment camps during  World War II.
  • African Americans were not allowed to play major league baseball, so they created their own league, called the Negro Leagues.
  • The first African American to play major league baseball was Jackie Robinson in 1947.
  • The All-American Girls Professional Basbeall League had over 600 female  players during its existence (1943-1954).

 

Talk About Barriers

Questions to start a conversation:

  • “What is a barrier?” A couple of understandings of a barrier include an obstacle that excludes or a problem that stalls or stops an individual or group. In addition to group, individual, ethnic and gender obstacles, many people face physical and invisible barriers.
  • “If a barrier is an obstacle that excludes or stops people, what barriers are there / have there been in sports?”
  • “If a barrier is an obstacle that excludes or stops people, what barriers do we see in the world around us?”
  • “What barriers have you experienced?” One person who inspires me said of his autism, “High-functioning autism is something I have, it isn’t who I am.” What are some personal or family experiences you can share with your child about facing barriers.
  • “How can we overcome barriers in our own life?”
  • “How can we help others overcome the barriers they face?”

 

Baseball in the Japanese Internment Camps

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Baseball Saved Us by Ken Mochizuki, illustrated by Dom Lee

Ages 6-10

Lexile AD550

Drawing on his Japanese-American parents' experiences, Mochizuki uses his narrator's struggle to become a better, and more accepted, ballplayer to portray a WW II internment camp. "Shorty" describes his family's removal to the camp in 1942, the grim surroundings, the restiveness his dad hopes to counter by building a baseball diamond.  … Using scratchboard overlaid with oils, Lee provides splendidly evocative art whose somber tones are enriched with luminous color; he's a keen observer of baseball and the camp milieu. Fine debuts for author, illustrator, and publisher. (Kirkus)

Watch this trailer!

 

Barbed Wire Baseball by Marissa Moss, illustrated by Yuko Shimizu

Ages 8-10

Lexile 800

Focusing on her subject's strength of character and love of baseball, Moss introduces readers to Kenichi Zenimura. At barely five feet tall, Zeni was hardly a natural athlete; nonetheless, he developed great prowess as a player and coach. Before World War II, he played exhibition games alongside Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, and toured Japan, where he was born. When war broke out, Zenimura, his wife, and teenage sons were sent to the Gila River internment camp in Arizona. In the ... Text and illustrations mesh to create an admiring portrait of an exemplary individual who rose above his challenges and inspired others. (School Library Journal)

Award: ALA Notable Children’s Book

Here, Zeni poses with Gehrig and Ruth.


African Americans in Baseball

Dad, Jackie, and Me by Myron Uhlberg, illustrated by Colin Bootman

Ages 6-10

Lexile 610

When Jackie Robinson signs with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947 as first baseman, the historic event captures the imagination of one middle-aged man in Brooklyn—the author's father… The shared excitement of father and son during a Giants vs. Dodgers game at Ebbets Field is contagious, as readers experience the tension of the game as well as that generated by racist Giants fans. The boy's embarrassment as his father chants Jackie's name as "AH-GHEE, AH-GEE, AH-GEE!" vanishes by the season's last game when Robinson throws the ball straight to his father and, amazingly, he catches it in his bare hand. (Kirkus)

Use Sharon Robinson’s article, “About My Father,”  to continue the conversation about barriers using the following conversation starter from Scholastic.com

  • Based on the first paragraph, why do you think Sharon Robinson wrote this article?
  • What is the main idea of the article? Provide details from the article to support your answer.
  • How did the color barrier prevent black baseball players from playing in the Majors before 1947?
  • What did the scouts tell manager Branch Rickey to convince him Jackie Robinson could be successful in the Major Leagues?
  • Why did Mr. Rickey describe to Jackie Robinson the rough conditions he would have to face?
  • The article says that “Rickey hoped my father would have the strength of character to fight back with his bat and not his fist.” What does this mean?
  • How did Jackie Robinson respond to the racism he faced in baseball?

(Source: Scholastic.com)

 

The Bat Boy & His Violin by Gavin Curtis, illustrated by E. B. Lewis

Ages 6-8

Lexile AD700

The Bat Boy & His Violin is one of our all-time favorite baseball stories. When Reginald’s father takes him on the road with his baseball team, Reginald carries along his violin. No good as a bat boy for the Dukes, Reginald cheers on the team with his violin. Even though the Dukes don’t win the big game, Reginald cheers up his new friends on the bus ride home. The final scenes brought a little tear to my eyes. (Zoobean)

 

“Though the themes of baseball and classical music initially may seem a jarring juxtaposition, here the duet makes for lovely harmony. Lewis's (Fire on the Mountain) realistic, emotion-charged watercolor paintings evoke a pivotal period in baseball history… As Curtis shapes a heartwarming relationship between father and son, his portrayal doesn't neglect the era's bitter facts: though previously all-white leagues were accepting African American ball players, many other whites were not. The Dukes may not go home with the pennant, but this imposing book will score high marks with youngsters, whether their tastes run to sports or to Mozart.” (Publisher’s Weekly)

 

We Are The Ship by Kadir Nelson

Ages 7-12

Lexile 900

Kadir Nelson’s tribute to the African-American players of baseball's first century with a reminiscence written in a collective voice—"But you know something? We had many Josh Gibsons in the Negro Leagues. We had many Satchel Paiges. But you never heard about them"—matched with full-page painted portraits and stadium views. Arranging his narrative into historical "Innings," the author closes with lists of Negro Leaguers who played in the Majors, and who are in the Baseball Hall of Fame.”  We enjoyed Nelson’s amazing artwork and learning about these players who played for the love of the game. (Kirkus, Starred Review/ Zoobean)

Awards: ALA Notable Children's Books; Booklist Editors' Choice; Coretta Scott King Award; New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Books; Oprah's Kids' Reading Lists; Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal; School Library Journal Best Books

 

Negro League History 101

This provides a great timeline and history of the league. Fans can use this website to learn about some of the great players in the league. Have you heard of Satchel Paige? If not, check out his great bio, along with the biographies of baseball greats like Turkey Stearnes

A great activity to do with the biographies on this website & the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum website  is to create baseball cards for your favorite players. You could do the same with players from the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.

What you will need:

  • Cardstock, cut it into 2x3 inch cards
  • Pens, pencils, markers
  • A ruler
  • Links below or a book like We Are the Ship

What to do:

  1. Find the name & nickname, dates, teams, positions, and other interesting facts on the website, Negro League History 101
  2. Record important information on your card
  3. Draw a picture of the player. You can find photos of players on the Negro League Baseball Player’s Association website or the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.
  4. Add some facts you find interesting

Women in Baseball

Mama Played Baseball by David Adler, illustrated by Chris O’Leary

Ages 4-8

Lexile AD440

During World War II, many women took on jobs they hadn’t been required to take care of before the war. From becoming farmers and Rosie the Riveter’s, like both of my grandmother’s, to professional baseball players, the women on the homefront worked hard to keep the country moving. In this heart-warming story, Amy’s father is off to war and mama joins the baseball team.

“A high point here is the work of O'Leary, whose sinewy artistic style recalls Depression-era murals. His oil paintings, rendered in subtle earth tones, energize the action on the baseball diamond and convey warmly lit interior scenes.” (Publishers Weekly/School Library Journal)

 

Dirt on Their Skirts: The Story of the Young Women Who Won the World Championship by Lyndall Callan and Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by E. B. Lewis

Ages 5-8

Lexile 520

During WWII, as men went overseas, women assumed many of their jobs; Rappaport and Callan enthusiastically invent a fictional witness to that historical moment when baseball, too, was taken over by women. Two teams from the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, the Rockford Peaches and the Racine Belles, are vying for the 1946 championship. It's the bottom of the 14th and the score is 0-0. The text benefits from Lewis's full-page watercolors, which range from the antic and expressive to exquisitely solemn with tension. Like the movie, “A League of Their Own,” this story reminds readers not to restrict their dreams because of gender. (Kirkus/Zoobean)

 

She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story by Audrey Vernick, illustrated by Don Tate

Ages 5-10

Lexile AD770

Effa Manley became aware of racial prejudice at a young age, when she was criticized by a school principal for playing with "those Negroes," who were in fact her darker-skinned siblings. Moving to New York City as an adult, she organized the "Citizen's League for Fair Play," demanding businesses hire black employees. With her husband, she started the Brooklyn Eagles, part of the Negro National League, "handling almost all the team's business," and later working to insure that the players were never forgotten. Tate's acrylics convey the charm and energy of an iconoclast who would become the first (and only) woman inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. (Publishers Weekly/Zoobean)

Award: Amelia Bloomer List


Baseball Biographies

Here are a couple books to get you started on baseball biographies and biographical fiction  -- head to your public library for plenty of baseball biographies.

Babe Ruth

Here are a couple books to get you started on baseball biographies and biographical fiction  -- head to your public library for plenty of baseball biographies.

The Babe & I by David Adler, illustrated by Terry Widener

Ages 5-7

Lexile 330

Set in the Bronx, during the Great Depression, our hero takes a job selling newspapers outside of Yankee Stadium to help support his family. Forget the headlines, he and his buddy, Jacob, sell their papers by shouting out Babe Ruth’s news.  Part coming-of-age story, part first job, and part love of baseball, this delightful story shows the heroism of a problem-solving boy and hard-working, unemployed dad.

“Filled with resonant themes, this nostalgic, heartwarming story about hard work and teamwork highlights heroes big and small. Widener's stylized illustrations are full of old-fashioned charm that reflects grand perspectives of city streets and Yankee Stadium.” (Zoobean / BookList, Starred Review)

Awards: California Young Reader Medal; Kentucky Bluegrass Award

 

The Bambino: The Story of Babe Ruth’s Legendary 1927 Season by  Nel Yomtov, illustrated by Tim Foley

Ages 9-12

Lexile 760

In graphic-novel format, The Bambino explores one of the biggest baseball seasons in the life of Babe Ruth. The illustrations are eye-catching and the narration is presented simply, yet compellingly, through conversation bubbles and text boxes, with direct quotes printed in yellow. The end provides a useful recap of the life and accomplishments of Ruth. (Zoobean / School Library Journal)


About Rebekah K.

An insomniac since 1979, Rebekah has filled her nights with books & history. Rebekah's earliest memories are of watching documentaries, reading books, and playing Candy Land late at night with her dad. Is it any wonder that she doesn't consider being a librarian and teacher a job? During her fifteen years, in college and K-12 libraries and 10 years in English, ESL, and History classrooms, she has spent her days talking about books and history, sometimes at the same time. Rebekah says, "I love pairing readers with books that are a perfect fit. I feel like I have won a war when a reluctant reader returns to tell me they hated reading; but, after reading a book I recommended, they stay up with a flashlight to read until the page is blurry."

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