It's baseball season again! I'll be spending many hours on the baseball field this spring, so I thought I'd recommend some truly exceptional picture books relating to the topic.
Few books will ever leave me speechless, but this first one is so unique and special, that any words I write about it will never compare to an actual examination of this "must have" book.
Based on an actual poem published in the San Francisco Examiner on June 3, 1888, Casey at the Bat: A Ballad of the Republic Sung in the Year 1888, written by Ernest Lawrence Thayer and "copiously and faithfully" illustrated by Christopher Bing, is a book that every (and I mean every) baseball fan should see and read. If ever there was a picture book worth buying, it would be this one.
An editor's note at the end of the book says it all:
"Casey stands as a heroic reminder that the blurring of fact and fancy, reality and imagination, resides at the core of the American experience."
There's another version of this book, which is illustrated by C.F. Payne, which goes along nicely with Dan Gutman's sequel, Casey Back at Bat. Both books are fun to read aloud and the sequel will take you on an imaginative journey to places you've never been.
Whether or not you are a New York Yankee fan, you'll be inspired by the book, The Boy of Steel: A Baseball Dream Come True, by Ray Negron. As someone who started out as a "batboy" and has been part for the Yankees organization for over thirty years, this author's passion for baseball shines through in this heartwarming story of a young baseball fan who is battling cancer.
The Boy of Steel reminds us that life is precious, and that no matter what curve balls may come our way, there is much power in having a positive outlook. Sometimes you don't have to score more runs to win the game. It's what's in your heart that matters most.
It's important to note that I first discovered this beautiful book when the parent of a fifth grader brought it in to read aloud to the class. Her son was usually an unmotivated student and reader, but loved the Yankees and this book. It just goes to show that older children can and should continue to read picture books, especially ones like this. Every child is a reader on the inside. We just have to find the right books.
Another great book by Ray Negron is called The Greatest Story Never Told: The Babe and Jackie. This time, the story revolves around two sick children who learn that it's better to judge someone by what's on the inside, rather than by what's on the outside. It's a story about the meaning of friendship, tolerance, diversity, and teamwork. These are important topics for children of all ages.
I do not like to assign age ranges to picture books because each child is at a different level. These particular books will appeal mainly to children between the ages of 6 and 11, but can be read by people of all ages. Please check back tomorrow for nonfiction baseball chapter books for tweens and teens.
I hope you enjoy all of these books, and that you get out there and enjoy some action packed baseball games this season!