Picture Book Biographies: Sports

Black Jack: The Ballad of Jack Johnson by Charles R. Smith, Jr.; illustrated by Shane W. Evans
Art and poetry combine to tell the story of boxer Jack Johnson, who became the first African-American world heavyweight boxing champion in the early part of the twentieth century.

Game, Set, Match, Champion Arthur Ashe by Crystal Hubbard; illustrated by Kevin Belford
“A biography of African American tennis champion Arthur Ashe, a pioneering minority athlete known for his character, sportsmanship, and activism in social causes such as civil rights and HIV/AIDS awareness. Includes an afterword, author’s note, and photographs”–Provided by publisher.

Henry Aaron’s Dream by Matt Tavares
Follow Hank Aaron from his boyhood watching Jackie Robinson to the early days of his professional career when he shares the field with his hero (You might recognize the name Matt Tavares from the other excellent baseball books he’s written and illustrated).

The Last Black King of the Kentucky Derby: The Story of Jimmy Winkfield by Crystal Hubbard; illustrated by Robert McGuire
“A biography of Jimmy Winkfield, who battled racism and other obstacles on the road to becoming one of horseracing’s best jockeys and, in 1902, the last African American to win the Kentucky Derby“–Provided by publisher.

A Nation’s Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis by Matt De La Pẽna; illustrated by Kadir Nelson
I grew up near the Joe Louis Arena, where there’s a glove in a glass case with the label “the glove that punched out Nazi Germany.”  This book (by the new Newbery Award winner Matt De La Pẽna) introduces the story of Joe Louis and the famous fight when he represented America against the German Max Schmeling.  This book has also been made into a DVD.

Perfect Timing: How Isaac Murphy Became One of the World’s Greatest Jockeys by Patsi B. Trollinger; paintings by Jerome Lagarrigue
See how one offer to ride a horse changed Isaac Murphy’s life and gave him the chance to become one of the greatest jockeys of all time.

Playing to Win: The Story of Althea Gibson by Karen Deans; illustrated by Elbrite Brown
Growing up in Harlem, Althea Gibson was heading down the wrong path until she found her calling. She went on to become the first African American woman to be ranked as the number one woman tennis player in the world.

Racing Against the Odds: The Story of Wendell Scott, Stock Car Racing‘s African-American Champion by Carole Boston Weatherford; illustrated by Eric A. Velasquez
A biography of Wendell O. Scott, who made history as the only African American driver to win a race in a NASCAR Grand National (now Sprint Cup) division.

Satchel Paige: Don’t Look Back by David A. Adler; illustrated by Terry Widener
Satchel Paige was one of the greatest pitchers in baseball.  Take a look at his life and his struggle to be accepted into major league baseball.

She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story by Audrey Vernick, illustrated by Don Tate
So if she’s not a professional athlete, why was she was the first woman inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame?  Take a look at her role as a team founder and advocate for African American baseball players.

You Never Heard of Willie Mays?!  by Jonah Winter; illustrated by Terry Widener
A visual profile of the record-setting baseball star traces his Birmingham childhood, achievements in the Negro Leagues, and fame as a center fielder for the Giants.

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