14 Canadian books for kids and young adults to read to get into the Olympic spirit

If you're inspired by the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, check out one of these great books!

Check out these 14 books with sport themes for kids and young adults to read during the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games and the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games.

The Olympics will take place July 23-Aug. 8, 2021. The Paralympics will take place Aug. 24-Sept. 5, 2021.

 You can see a complete schedule of events here.

Race with Me! by Andre De Grasse and Robert Budd, illustrated by Joseph Osei Bonsu

Race With Me! is a children's book by Canadian sprinter Andre De Grasse, writer Robert Budd and illustrator Joseph Osei Bonsu. (Scholastic Canada, Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Canadian sprinter Andre De Grasse inspires young kids to lace up their sneakers and run as fast as they can in Race with Me! , an illustrated book for middle grade readers. The athlete talks about what motivates his training and how it feels to be an underdog at the highest levels of sport.

Race with Me! is for ages 6 to 10.

De Grasse is a three-time Olympic medallist, winning one silver and two bronze medals at the Rio 2016 games. He will compete in Tokyo this July.

Robert Budd is a bestselling children's writer based in Victoria. He's a frequent collaborator of the artist Roy Henry Vickers. Their books include Raven Brings the LightCloudwalker and Orca Chief.

Joseph Osei Bonsu is an illustrator and animator from Mississauga, Ont.

The Olympians: Andre De Grasse (Sport)

2 years ago
Duration 2:58
With Usain Bolt retired, Andre de Grasse was ready to vie for the mantle of World's Fastest Man - but life gets in the way.

Proud to Play by Erin Silver

Proud to Play is a children's nonfiction book by Erin Silver. (Lorimer, Justine Apple)

Proud to Play is a nonfiction biography book highlighting the many accomplishments of LGBTQ athletes. It notes that the 2018 Winter Olympics marked a milestone with 13 athletes out of 3,000 competitors that were out and proud. Proud to Play explores the history of Canadian LGBTQ athletes and includes profiles of Canadians such as swimmer Mark Tewksbury, rhythmic gymnast Rose Cossar, volleyball players Betty Baxter and Christopher Voth and more.

Proud to Play is for ages 5 to 12.

Erin Silver is a journalist, children's author and blogger from Toronto.

Fight Like a Girl by Sheena Kamal

Fight Like a Girl is a YA novel by Sheena Kamal. (Malcolm Tweedy, Penguin Teen)

In thriller writer Sheena Kamal's first YA novel Fight Like a Girl, Trisha grew up with an abusive father who would come and go as he pleased. In an effort to break the chain of violence in her family, Trisha chooses to channel her violent impulses into Muay Thai kickboxing.

Fight Like a Girl is for ages 14 and up.

Kamal is a Vancouver-based writer of crime novels including The Lost Ones which won the 2018 Kobo Emerging Writer Prize, and It All Falls DownShe Fights Like a Girl is her first YA novel.

Sheena Kamal talks about the third instalment of her Nora Watts mystery series No Going Back and debut YA novel Fight Like a Girl.

Brady Brady and the Ballpark Bark by Mary Shaw, illustrated by Chuck Temple

A children's book by Mary Shaw and illustrated by Chuck Temple. (Scholastic Canada,

Brady Brady and the Ballpark Bark is the latest in the Brady Brady series of children's books. Brady Brady and the Ballpark Bark features the titular character and his dog, Hatrick, excited to play some baseball. But Hatrick keeps trying to catch all the balls during baseball practice, forcing Brady to take him back home. But Brady and his baseball team soon learn that Hatrick just might help them practice and win the upcoming season opener. 

Brady Brady and the Ballpark Bark is for ages 3 to 8.

Mary Shaw is a Ohio-based children's author who spends time in Ontario. The Brady Brady series of books include more than 16 titles.

Chuck Temple is an artist and illustrator based in Kitchener, Ont.

Lucy Tries Soccer by Lisa Bowes, illustrated by James Hearne

The Lucy Tries Sports series of books by author Lisa Bowes (right) and illustrator James Hearne (not pictured) encourage children to learn new sports. (Colin Way, Orca Book Publishers)

The Lucy Tries Sports series of books inspire children to learn new sports and have fun in the process. In Lucy Tries Soccer, Lucy learns that soccer is fun and that teamwork and playing with friends make it even more so. 

Lucy Tries Soccer is for ages 6 to 8.

Lisa Bowes is a sports journalist and media consultant from Calgary who has worked for the CBC. 

James Hearne is an illustrator and graphic designer from Alberta.

Lisa Bowes is the author of the Lucy Tries Sports series. She is also a sports reporter. The series follows Lucy as she tries different sports.

Bruised by Tanya Boteju

Bruised is a YA novel by Tanya Boteju. (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, Greg Ehlers)

Bruised is a YA novel about Daya Wijesinghe, a teen girl who navigates first love and gender identity after a family tragedy. After a tragic accident results in the death of her parents, Daya has taken to bruising herself as a way to cope with her grief. It leads her to the physical and colourful world of roller derby. Bruised explores Daya's healing process and journey to wellness. 

Bruised is for ages 14 and up.

Tanya Boteju is an author and educator based in Vancouver. She is also the author of the YA novel Kings, Queens and In-Betweens.

Tanya Boteju on her latest YA book, Bruised.

Camp Average: Away Games by Craig Battle

Camp Average: Away Games is the final book in the popular series set in Camp Avalon. (OwlKids)

Camp Average: Away Games is the final book in the popular series set in Camp Avalon. While a boy named Miles tries to keep the peace between the campers and a new kid named Garth, a series of events leads to the ultimate ball hockey showdown. Miles and the rest of the campers are forced to work together in order to secure the final victory. 

Camp Average: Away Games is for ages 8 to 12.

Craig Battle is a Canadian journalist, coach and author of books for young readers, including the Camp Average series. He is the former editor of Owl Magazine and is currently an editor at Sportsnet.

Terry Fox and Me by Mary Beth Leatherdale, illustrated by Milan Pavlović

Terry Fox and Me is a picture book written by Mary Beth Leatherdale and illustrated by Milan Pavlović. (Tundra Books, The Canadian Press)

Terry Fox and Me looks at the childhood of Terry Fox before he was known as a national hero and icon for his Marathon of Hope run and fight against cancer. The book looks at his friendship with Doug and how the two met at basketball tryouts and then worked hard to be the best they could be at whatever they did. 

Terry Fox and Me is for ages 4 to 8.

Mary Beth Leatherdale is an author and storyteller based in Toronto. She, along with co-writer Lisa Charleyboy, won the Best Young Adult Book at the 2018 AILA Youth Literature Awards for their anthology #NotYourPrincess.

Milan Pavlović is an illustrator, graphic artist and educator from Toronto. He is the illustrator of several children's books, including The Boy Who Invented the Popsicle by Anne Renaud.

Terry Fox and the Marathon of Hope 40 years later

3 years ago
Duration 7:33
Forty years after Terry Fox ran his Marathon of Hope, an Olympian, Paralympian and one of his brothers look back on his accomplishments and his legacy. Darrell Fox has edited a new book of letters about his brother’s inspiration, dedication, and perseverance.

Amazing Athletes by Marie-Claude Ouellet, translated by Phyllis Aronoff

Amazing Athletes is a children's nonfiction book by Marie-Claude Ouellet, translated by Phyllis Aronoff and Howard Scott (not pictured). (Owlkids, Philippe Manning)

Amazing Athletes is a look at the Canadian athletes who participate in the Paralympic Games, which is the third-largest sporting event in the world. The nonfiction book highlights Canadian Paralympians and the sports they play including profiles and interviews with athletes such as Para Ice Hockey pro Billy Bridges and Iraninan Canadian goalball player Ahmad Zeividavi.

Amazing Athletes is for ages 8 to 12.

Marie-Claude Ouellet is an author, journalist and magazine writer based in Montreal. 

The Breakdown: Which reigning Paralympic champs are headed to Tokyo?

3 years ago
Duration 2:20
CBC Sports' Jacqueline Doorey breaks down the four Canadian Paralympians who won gold in Rio 2016 that will be trying to defend their crowns when the Games return next year in Tokyo.

Hockey Night in Kenya by Danson Mutinda & Eric Walters, illustrated by Claudia Dávila

Hockey Night in Kenya is a picture book by Danson Mutinda, left, and Eric Walters, right, and illustrated by Claudia Dávila. (Kristina Laukkanen, Orca Book Publishers)

In Hockey Night in Kenyatwo orphans from Kenya, Kitoo and Nigosi, love to read, play soccer and help with chores around the orphanage. They discover a book called Sports Around the World and one of the children becomes fascinated with an image of the Canadian national men's ice hockey team. The boy teaches himself how to skate and dreams of one day playing hockey just like the players in the book. 

Hockey Night in Kenya is for ages 6-8.

Danson Mutinda is an author based in Kenya. His parents, Ruth and Henry Kyatha, co-founded the Hope Development Centre orphanage with Eric and Anita Walters in 2007. 

Eric Walters is a Canadian author of children's books.

Claudia Dávila is a Toronto-based artist and illustrator. Her other books include Super Red Riding Hood and Child Soldier, which was written by Michel Chikwanine and Jessica Dee Humphreys.

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.

The Basketball Player is for ages 7 to 9.

Roch Carrier is a French Canadian novelist and author of the classic story The Hockey Sweater. He is among the best known Quebec writers in English Canada.

Sheldon Cohen is a Canadian artist, illustrator and animator.

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,, Facebook)

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. 

The Stone Thrower is for ages 5 to 9.

Jael Richardson is the founder and the artistic director of the Festival for Literary Diversity (FOLD) and the books columnist for q on CBC Radio. She is also the author of the nonfiction book The Stone Thrower, which was also adapted into a picture book of the same name. Gutter Childher first work of fiction was published in 2021.

Matt James is a painter, illustrator and musician from Toronto.

Chuck Ealey became the first black quarterback to win the Grey Cup. Ealey's daughter Jael Richardson captured the story of her father in her book, 'The Stone Thrower.' Richardson is in Sudbury for the Wordstock Literary Festival.

David Jumps In by Alan Woo, illustrated by Katty Maurey

David Jumps In is written by Alan Woo and illustrated by Katty Maurey. (Kids Can Press)

David Jumps In tells the story of how a game with roots in ancient China called elastic skip, helps a boy navigate his way through his first day at a new school.

David Jumps In is for ages 4 to 7.

Alan Woo is a writer living in Vancouver. His work of poetry and short stories have appeared in Ricepaper magazine and Quills Canadian Poetry Magazine.

Katty Maurey is an illustrator from Montreal who has worked on various children's books, including Quand j'étais chien written by Louise Bombardier.

My Life as a Diamond by Jenny Manzer

My Life as a Diamond is a chapter book by Jenny Manzer. (Orca Book Publishers)

In My Life as a Diamond, Caspar loves baseball so much that the first thing he does when his family relocates to Seattle is try out for baseball team the Redburn Ravens. Caz is excited to be their star baseball pitcher, but is concerned his teammates might find out something he isn't ready to tell them — that he used to live as a girl named Cassandra.

My Life as a Diamond is for ages 9 for 12.

Jenny Manzer is a writer based in Victoria. She was a finalist for the 2013 CBC Nonfiction Prize and is also the author of the book Save Me, Kurt Cobain.

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you.

Sign up now