It’s the most wonderful time of the year: baseball season, of course! Going to Opening Day is a family tradition for us and I can’t wait to go tomorrow! We’ve been reading about baseball a lot lately as we get excited for the start of the season. Our favorite baseball reads are below.
Dad, Jackie, & Me, written by Myron Uhlberg, illustrated by Colin Bootman (2005).
It is the Summer of 1947, Jackie Robinson’s first year playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Based on Uhlberg’s own childhood, the book looks at the struggle and triumph of that first year through the eyes of a boy and his deaf father – who never much cared for baseball before, but who has become a huge fan of Jackie Robinson. I found this when looking for books with deaf characters, and it does a great job with that – the father’s deafness is a fact and depicted realistically, but not the point of the story. You can tell that Uhlberg is a CODA (Child of Deaf Adults). It also a realistic depiction of the racism and hatred that Jackie Robinson faced and led to some good discussions with Frances about why another player would try to hurt Jackie. A+ all around.
Dirt on their Skirts: The Story of the Young Women Who Won the World Championships, written by Doreen Rappaport and Lyndall Callan, illustrated by E.B. Lewis (2000).
The tale of the 1946 World Championship game of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League between the Racine Belles and the Rockford Peaches. Not only a great piece of baseball history (and girl power), but also some of the most exciting descriptions of baseball play that I’ve read. Who will win?!
Queen of the Diamond: The Lizzie Murphy Story, written and illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully (2015).
I had never heard of Lizzie Murphy until I read this book, and that’s a shame, because what an amazing role model. Lizzie Murphy played professional baseball (on men’s teams) from 1918 to 1935! Queen of the Diamond tells the tale of Lizzie’s childhood and start in professional baseball, including how she forced the manager to pay her the same salary as the men. Equal pay for equal work! I had no idea that women had played on baseball teams with men back in the early-ish days of the game and this book was a (fun) revelation for me.
She Love Baseball: The Effa Manley Story, written by Audrey Vernick, illustrated by Don Tate (2010).
Another fascinating woman in baseball, who I had never heard of! Effa Manley, was the business manager and co-owner, with her husband, of the Newark Eagles, a Negro League team. She was alive in the civil rights movement,and instrumental in getting the Major League teams to pay Negro League teams for their players. In her later years, she ran a successful letter-writing campaign to convince the National Baseball Hall of Fame to admit Negro League players. In 2006, she was the first woman to be induced in the Hall of Fame herself. Pretty amazing!
Take Me Out to the Yakyu, written and illustrated by Aaron Meshon (2013).
A super cute tale of a little baseball-loving boy and his trips to baseball games with his American Pop Pop and with his Japanese Ji Ji. It’s fun to see the ways the games differ across cultures and the ways they are the same. I love the illustrations. While the other books are fairly wordy and contain more serious themes, this is a pure celebration of baseball perfect for toddlers and preschoolers alike.