13 children's books for sports lovers of all ages

A list of books inspired by TD Canadian Children's Literature Award contender When the Moon Comes by Paul Harbridge and Matt James.

The finalists for the 2018 TD Canadian Children's Literature Award have been announced. The $50,000 prize is the richest in Canadian children's literature — awarded annually to the creators of one book for readers up to the age of 12.

Inspired by the diversity of the finalists for this award, CBC Books is putting together reading lists for the whole family. One of the 2018 finalists is When the Moon Comes, written by Paul Harbridge and illustrated by Matt James. The story of a magical night spent playing pond hockey on a frozen beaver flood, the picture book is a celebration of the outdoors, adventure and sport. 

Here are 12 other books for younger readers that sports loving families will enjoy! 

The Looney Bay All-Stars Series by Helaine Becker, illustrated by Sampar  

The Looney Bay All Stars series is written by Helaine Becker and illustrated by Sampar. (Fitzhenry and Whiteside Ltd./Scholastic/Helaine Becker)

With titles like Pirate Power Play, Attack by Knight and The Emperor Strikes Out in play, Helaine Becker's lively middle grade chapter book series features protagonist Reese McSkittles getting into all kinds of trouble in all kinds of sports. From feuding medieval knights to vengeful hurdling vikings, there's never a dull moment when it comes to this silly series. 

A is for Axel by Kurt Browning, illustrated by Melanie Rose

A is for Axel is a children's book by Canadian figure skater Kurt Browning and illustrator Melanie Rose. (Sleeping Bear Press)

This collaboration from four-time world champion figure skater Kurt Browning and illustrator Melanie Rose celebrates a whole alphabet's worth of figure skating terms — from holding an edge to laces and hooks — with colourful drawings to match. 

The Basketball Player by Roch Carrier, illustrated by Sheldon Cohen

The Basketball Player is a lesser known work from the creators of the classic, The Hockey Sweater. (Tundra Books/Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

This lesser known picture book from the duo behind Canada's beloved classic The Hockey Sweater follows Roch on his journey to seminary boarding school, where he learns to play basketball for the first time. Through the challenge of mastering a new sport, young readers can explore themes of overcoming fear of failure and trying something new. 

Never Give Up by Kathryn Cole, illustrated by Qin Leng

By learning to ride a bicycle, Shaun overcomes his fears and forges new friendships. (Lian Leng/Second Story Press)

In this charming picture book from Second Story Press editor Kathryn Cole, Shaun's friend Nadia helps him learn to ride a bicycle so well that he even impresses his bullies. A story about perseverance — with beautiful illustrations from Qin Leng — Never Give Up will encourage children to do just that: never give up. 

Hockey Morning Noon and Night by Doretta Groenendyk

Author Doretta Groenendyk’s young son inspired this picture book, through his fascination with all things hockey. (Nimbus Publishing)

Inspired by Doretta Groenendyk's young son and his fascination with all things hockey, this book is about a boy who incorporates Canada's national pastime into everything he does, from breakfast to bedtime. Illustrations in watercolour and ink invite kids and parents alike into hockey culture and celebrate its ability to take over a fan's whole life, be it morning, noon or  night.

The Hockey Song by Stompin' Tom Connors, illustrated by Gary Clement

Illustrations by Gary Clement bring the Stompin' Tom Connors classic The Hockey Song to life. (CBC/Greystone Books)

"Hello out there, we're on the air," begins Stompin' Tom Connors's beloved Hockey Song, and so begins this illustrated companion to the celebrated tune. Beginning with just two players and growing to encompass a whole town, the hockey game in The Hockey Song  really is "the best game you can name." 

The Bells on Finland Street by Lyn Cook

Lyn Cook's classic, The Bells on Finland Street follows Elin as she pursues her dream of becoming a figure skater. (Fitzhenry & Whiteside)

Originally published in 1950, this classic by the late Lyn Cook takes place in Northern Ontario. It follows a young girl named Elin as she pursues her dream of becoming a figure skater, while her family struggles to make ends meet. 

Hat Trick by Jacqueline Guest 

Jacqueline Guest's middle grade novel Hat Trick follows Métis hockey player Leigh Aberdeen. (Lorimer/Jacqueline Guest)

Leigh Aberdeen may be a girl, but she's also one of the best players on her hockey team. But Leigh's up against a lot more than the opposing team, as she simultaneously grapples with her Métis identity, her mom's apparent disapproval and the pressure to succeed. 

When the Moon Comes by Paul Harbridge, illustrated by Matt James

When The Moon Comes is a picture book written by Paul Harbridge and illustrated by Matt James. (Matt James, Penguin Random House, Paul Harbridge)

Inspired by the magic of a night spend playing pond hockey on a frozen beaver flood, Paul Harbridge and Matt James's collaboration When the Moon Comes is one of five finalists for the 2018 TD Canadian Children's Literature Award. Whether or not they're hockey lovers, young readers and their families will find something to love about this beautiful picture book that captures the wonder of moonlight and time spent outdoors. 

Great by Lauri Holomis and Glen Gretzky, illustrated by Kevin Sylvester

Walter Gretzky, Lauri Holomis, Kevin Sylvester and Glen Gretzky pose with a copy of the children's book, Great. (Puffin Canada/Penguin Random House Canada)

A collaboration between Wayne Gretzky's brother Glen and children's book author Lauri Holomis, Great  actually puts "the great one" in the backseat — instead focusing on a player by the name of Taylor, who joins young Wayne's team and is struggling to impress Coach Wally. Over time,Taylor learns that hard work and enthusiasm matter at least as much as raw talent and that "As long as you have fun, work hard and do your best, that is all that matters." 

The Stone Thrower by Jael Richardson, illustrated by Matt James

The Stone Thrower is the illustrated story of the author Jael Richardson's father — Chuck Ealey — and his struggle to play football in a racially segregated community. (Groundwood Books/

Based on the true story of Chuck Ealey, Jael Richardson's father, The Stone Thrower follows a young football player's struggle to succeed in a racially segregated community. With illustrations by Matt James, this nonfiction picture book is a tale of sport, racism and determination in the face of discrimination. 

Crazy for Hockey by Gilles Tibo, illustrated by Bruno St-Aubin

Gilles Tibo is the author of Crazy for Hockey, illustrated by Bruno St-Aubin. (Scholastic/

Gilles Tibo and Bruno St-Aubin's colourful collection Crazy for Hockey is about a young boy named Nicholas who is, truly, crazy for the sport. Over the course of five lively stories — Where's my Hockey Sweater?, The Best Goalie Ever, The Big Game, A Very Hockey Christmas and Most Valuable Player — it becomes clear that hockey is on Nicholas's mind from sunup to sundown, and even while he's sleeping. 

One Hockey Night by David Ward, illustrated by Brian Deines

Written by David Ward and illustrated by Brian Deines, One Hockey Night is the story of one magical Christmas Eve hockey game in Saskatchewan. (David Ward/Brian Deines/Scholastic)

After their family moves from Nova Scotia to Saskatchewan, Owen and Holly are having a hard time adjusting… until one magical Christmas Eve when their dad surprises them with a backyard rink. And just like the frozen pond back home, the rink in Saskatchewan comes complete with new friends, united by the bond of hockey. 


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