#Nonfiction Monday Two Picture Books About Pioneering Women Athletes

Let’s explore some of the fantastic nonfiction children’s books that have been nominated for 2018 Cybils awards.

In alphabetical order, today we have two picture book biographies about pioneering women athletes. Unfortunately, their stories are remarkably similar. They were both told they couldn’t participate in their sport of choice because of their gender, and they went ahead and took part anyway.

First up to bat is Anybody’s Game: Kathryn Johnston, the First Girl to Play Little League Baseball by Heather Lang and illustrated by Cecilia Puglesi.

Kathryn Johnston loved baseball and she wanted to play for a Little League team. The only problem was it was 1950 and girls were not allowed. Kathryn cut her hair and and tried out for the team anyway, saying her name was “Tubby” Johnston. She made the team!

At first Heather Lang uses creative nonfiction techniques to create dialogue, but later she lets the facts carry the story, which flows better. The back matter contains very cool black and white photographs of Kathryn at bat in her Little League uniform. Lang also includes a timeline of “Women and Girls in Baseball,” as well as more information about the events that occurred in the years after Kathryn played.

Anybody’s Game will play to young athletes, but it is inspirational for anyone who is brave enough to dream big.

Age Range: 5 – 7 years
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company (March 1, 2018)
ISBN-10: 0807503797
ISBN-13: 978-0807503799

Not far behind is Girl Running:  Bobbi Gibb and The Boston Marathon by Annette Bay Pimentel and illustrated by Micha Archer.

Bobbi Gibb was a long distance runner. She lived near the route for the Boston Marathon, so decided to enter officially. The year was 1966, however, and women weren’t allowed to run (sound familiar?)  She knew she could do it, so she decided to run the course during the race anyway. Although Bobbi Gibb proved women could finish the race, ahead of many men, it would be several years before women were allowed to run officially.

Pimental includes many specifics that make the story personal, like the fact that stores do not carry running shoes for women so Bobbi has to by men’s shoes.

The oil and collage illustrations by Micha Archer are vibrant. Young readers are likely to turn back to them after finishing the book to examine all the incredible layers of details, from the graphic running across the bottom of the pages that shows the elevation and mile markers through the race, to the names of women runners hidden in a hillside slope.

Girl Running just might leave young readers breathless.

Age Range: 5 – 8 years
Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books (February 6, 2018)
ISBN-10: 1101996684
ISBN-13: 978-1101996683

Disclosure: These books were provided by our local library. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.


Looking for more children’s nonfiction books? Try the Nonfiction Monday blog.