I don't know about you, but I feel that life is too short to read mediocre books.
If you've ever browsed through the library or book store section of baseball books, you realize how overwhelming it can be to make a selection when there are so many books on the subject. When you don't know exactly what you're looking for, and you're new to the subject, it's even more difficult to make a choice.
When I choose a book, I look for something that sets it apart from the others. Sometimes, you can tell a book is special just by looking at the cover and the illustrations. Sometimes, it's the first sentence that strikes you. In other books, you may not realize how much you like them until you read the very last sentences. Once in a while, you can't pinpoint exactly what it was that you liked about a particular book. All you know is that there was something special about it that made it stand out from the rest.
I already recommended some truly unique fictional books on the subject in Part 1 last week, as well as a great series of historical baseball fiction in two previous posts. In contrast to authors of fiction, nonfiction authors have a responsibility to examine a topic from every angle and point of view. At the same time, they must make sure that their information is coming from the most reliable of sources. That's why it's so important to be especially selective with works of nonfiction.
I may not know much about baseball, and I certainly have not read many books on the subject. As a parent of a real fan, though, I've managed to find a few nonfiction books (and one of historical fiction) that have something really special to offer to people of all ages:
Picture books for grades K - 3:
- The Illustrated Rules of Baseball, by Dennis Healy
- Mama Played Baseball, by David Adler (historical fiction)
- Satchel Paige, by Lesa Cline-Ransome and James Ransome
Chapter Books for grades 4 - adult (Children in grade 4-6 can read first three with an adult)
- Baseball Field Guide: An In-Depth Illustrated Guide to the Complete Rules of Baseball, by Dan Formosa and Paul Hamburger
- We are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball, by Kadir Nelson
- A Whole New Ball Game: The Story of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, by Sue Macy
- Stolen Bases: Why American Girls Don't Play Baseball, by Jennifer Ring (new book for high school students and adults)
- The Best of Baseball Digest: The Greatest Players, The Greatest Games, The Greatest Writers From Baseball's Most Exciting Years, edited with an introduction by John Kuenster (for high school students and adults)
Like I said, I am certainly no expert when it comes to baseball, but I am someone who will always go to great lengths to find information and resources of the highest quality. These authors have used a unique blend of history, photographs, and illustrations, to tell a story in the most complete, accurate and powerful way possible.
I must mention that GreenGuy and I especially love the book, We are the Ship, by Kadir Nelson. It's a great "coffee table" book that can be read a little bit at a time. Kadir Nelson has illustrated many award winning books, and you can find his paintings at museums around the world. He writes for the first time in this "must read and look at" book, and he does so in a voice that will inspire people of all ages.
I believe that in order to move ahead, we need to learn from the mistakes of the past. Baseball cannot be considered a national pastime unless everyone is allowed to play it. It is our duty, as parents and teachers, to share the whole story of baseball, which includes people of every gender and race. It is only when we bring these issues out in the open that we can truly learn from them.
There is one more "must read' book for 12 to 15 year old girls, and that's Let Me Play: The Story of Title IX: The Law the Changed the Future of Girls in America, by Karen Blumenthal. This essential resource calls our attention to the multitude of challenges that girls and women have faced in fighting for equal rights, whether they were denied the right to play sports or to attend college. A unique blend of facts and inspiring personal stories, this book is an eye opener for all parents and middle school children.
I have to admit that I used to think that history was a boring subject in school. Now that I am aware of the many resources, especially pieces of children's literature, that are available for teachers and parents, I find it fascinating. High quality literature allows us to make personal connections to the world. In order to move ahead with the future, we need to be able to relate to the past.
I hope you enjoy some of these books along with your child. Like I said, these are just a few of the many exceptional baseball books that are available. If you'd like to comment on any of them, or if you'd like to recommend some other related books that you've enjoyed, please do!
Have a ball this week!