Fumbling for a Football Book for Young Readers? Get Your Hands on This

BookendsLynn: Half the state of Michigan is in shocked disbelief and the other half is still jubilant after this past weekend’s BIG game. I’m actually a little bit nervous to even discuss a football book with emotions running so high here. Oh, those intrastate rivalries! Football, at all levels, is immensely popular, of course, as are books about it for young readers. Sadly, I’ve often felt that the great majority of nonfiction football books were pretty cheesy (pardon my use of this highly technical literary term). But My First Book of Football (2015) by Beth Bugler and Mark Bechtel (Sports Illustrated Kids) is a welcome change.

This is a great choice for libraries’ sports collections.

My First Book of Football by Beth Bugler and Mark BechtelFirst of all, it doesn’t take itself too seriously. There’s a lot of humor throughout, both in the often funny text and the antics of a small, helmeted cartoon character. The book provides a basic introduction to the game of football, with rules, vocabulary, and information on how the game is played. Each page offers one term or concept illustrated by live-action photographs of professional football players, with bright-colored backgrounds that make the photos and large white text stand out sharply. Explanations are well-executed (unlike the last play of the MSU/UM game) and very appropriate for small fans just getting into how the game works. I tested the book on the five-year-old member of our focus group and he was really excited about it despite the general gloom that had sunk over some family members after the game. This is a great choice for libraries’ sports collections. And hey—the Wolverines may have stumbled a bit, but just wait for next year! And while I’m on the subject of wait-’til-next-year, there are my Chicago Bears . . . .

Cindy: Speaking of Chicago Bears, where are they in this book? When I gave this to my husband to review for me, he noticed immediately that there are numerous photos of Green Bay Packers players yet no Bears in the mix. The graphic design is fabulous and enhances the information presented. Time clocks count down the minutes in each quarter and the field is measured not just in yardage but in school-bus lengths (eight buses end to end). The game, and the book, end with the requisite Gatorade dump. As for me, I’m an Indiana University grad, so I’m moving right on to basketball season, thank you very much. Football is not my strong suit.

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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