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Who's on First?: Books About Baseball to Excite Young Readers

— Parents' Choice Foundation
Updated on Jan 8, 2010

Baseball not only entertains, but inspires us as well with stories of Babe Ruth, Willie Mays and Casey at the Bat among ordinary boys, girls, men and women whose lives were changed by our national pastime. The following list offers their stories along with an informed look at the fields and stadiums in which these dreams were made. And for those who long for baseball year-round, we've also included a few of our favorite baseball games. Batter up!

Let's Play BaseballLet's Play Baseball
Ages: Infant - 4 yrs.
Author: Charles R. Smith, Jr. Illustrator: Terry Widener
Candlewick Press, $8.99 (Hardcover)

After a long winter, the spring sunshine beckons children out to play-and for many kids the game of choice is baseball. In fact, in Charles R. Smith's colorful new board book it's the ball itself that coaxes a little boy outdoors for a fast-paced game. The story is told from a baseball's point of view, telling his owner, “Blast me off your bat, into the sky...see my red stitches spin as I fly.” Smith's text is simple and rhyming. Its brevity makes it a good choice for emerging readers; the sturdy pages are also a plus for this age group.

Roasted PeanutsRoasted Peanuts
Ages: 4 - 8 yrs.
Author: Tim Egan Illustrator: Tim Egan
Houghton Mifflin Children's Books, $16.00 (Hardcover)

Just in time for summer and backyard baseball comes this clever story of two unlikely friends: strong, fast, athletic Sam (a horse) and klutzy Jackson (a cat) whose one talent is a terrific arm. When the two are finally old enough to try out for the local baseball team, their dream of playing together is shattered when Sam is chosen and Jackson is cut. However, stay tuned for the plot twist: when Jackson gets a job selling peanuts in the stands and Sam hits a slump on the field, well—let's just say there's more than one way to be a star.

Girl Wonder: A Baseball Story in Nine Innings
Ages: 5 - 8 yrs.
Author: Deborah Hopkinson Illustrator: Terry Widener
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing/Anne Schwartz Books/Atheneum

This is an unpretentious, thoroughly engrossing baseball tale, guaranteed to please reader/listeners up to the age of ten. When she was two, our real life heroine Alta Weiss discovers that “I must have been born to play baseball” when she hurls a corncob at an old tomcat harassing her favorite hen and bops him directly on the head.

Dirt on Their Skirts
Ages: 5 - 9 yrs.
Author: Doreen Rappaport    Author: Lyndall Callan    Illustrator: E. B. Lewis
Penguin Putnam Inc./Dial Books for Young Readers, $16.99 (Hardcover)

A carefully constructed glimpse into a piece of women’s history, this book is neatly aimed at young girls and boys just beginning to play baseball or softball. The All-American Girls Professional Baseball League was formed during the years of World War II. They kept the game alive in mind and heart and provided special role models for the girls of that time and any time. In this single day slice-of-life, a young girl cheers for her favorite player during a championship game. The excitement is pungently caught in the spare play-by-play narrative, and the sweeping illustrations focus on the action and the intense faces of players and watchers. This book is an enticing peek that may lead to a longer look at these remarkable women.

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