The Best Basketball Books for Kids of 2020

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Young basketball fans apparently have different needs than their older counterparts. While teenagers and young adults would undoubtedly find value in Bill Simmons’ controversial rants or David Halberstam’s exquisite work, but kids would have none of that. They would prefer a plot like Toy Story and adorable characters like Olaf in Frozen. Okay, maybe not, but we all get the idea: The criteria for the best basketball books for kids are not the same for the older audience.

However, that’s not to say that parents should compromise life lessons to give their kids a few laughs. The best thing about our recommended basketball books for kids is that it’s full of beautiful lessons and is still enjoyable. Let’s check out some of them.

If you want to get back to playing basketball, get our top basketball books for kids here.

Our Top Favorite
Stephen Curry: The Inspiring Story of One of Basketball's Sharpest Shooters (Basketball Biography Books)
Our Top Runner Up
Salt In His Shoes: Michael Jordan in Pursuit of a Dream
Our Top Value Pick
EllRay Jakes the Recess King!
Book Title
Stephen Curry: The Inspiring Story of One of Basketball's Sharpest Shooters
Salt in His Shoes: Michael Jordan in Pursuit of a Dream
EllRay Jakes Stands Tall
Prime Eligible?
Our Top Favorite
Stephen Curry: The Inspiring Story of One of Basketball's Sharpest Shooters (Basketball Biography Books)
Book Title
Stephen Curry: The Inspiring Story of One of Basketball's Sharpest Shooters
Prime Eligible?
Our Top Runner Up
Salt In His Shoes: Michael Jordan in Pursuit of a Dream
Book Title
Salt in His Shoes: Michael Jordan in Pursuit of a Dream
Prime Eligible?
Our Top Value Pick
EllRay Jakes the Recess King!
Book Title
EllRay Jakes Stands Tall
Prime Eligible?

Our Favorites for the Best Basketball Books for KidsOur Favorites for the Best Basketball Books for Kids

Stephen Curry: The Inspiring Story of One of Basketball's Sharpest Shooters (by Clayton Geoffreys)

Yes, we pointed out that the younger kids have different literary needs than their older counterparts, but there is no current NBA player right now that kids want to be when they grow up: It’s Stephen Curry! Curry’s rise as a skinny kid that’s too small and too weak to be an NBA player to the best shooter of all time will surely capture a kid’s attention.

What Makes It Unique:

  • Gives valuable insight into Steph’s early childhood upbringing and his core values system
  • Gives a spotlight to Steph Curry’s actions on and off the court
  • Clayton Geoffreys’ style is concise and straightforward, making it understandable to kids and even people who are not into basketball.

This is not about an in-depth look in the life of Stephen Curry, and it’s not meant to be that way. Instead, it is about his early and formative years intended to inspire young readers. With these target audiences in mind, Geoffreys’ style is not overreaching and just perfect in getting the job done.

Why Read Stephen Curry: The Inspiring Story of One of Basketball’s Sharpest Shooters:

  • The facts presented in the book are age-appropriate. A grandmother who bought one said his nine-year-old grandson soaked everything in the book like a sponge!
  • Sheds some light on Steph Curry’s non-basketball endeavors and his experience at Davidson
  • Nothing like learning real-life lessons from a two-time NBA MVP that had to overcome lots of basketball adversity
Stephen Curry: The Inspiring Story of One of Basketball's Sharpest Shooters (Basketball Biography Books)
  • Geoffreys, Clayton (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 200 Pages - 04/10/2014 (Publication Date) - CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (Publisher)

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

Kwame Alexander is a multi-awarded writer for kids of all ages, and one of his offerings in The Crossover Series is the graphic novel, The Crossover. It is a New York Times bestseller, but we know it’s not enough; kids don’t care about accolades. However, the novel was described as a carefully deliberated offering “of life and line,” so it would be a travesty if it’s not included here.

What Makes It Unique:

  • Lots of pictures that are illustrated excellently by Dawud Anyabwile
  • The central theme is all about family.
  • Some parents who bought this book for their kids say the book made their kids love reading.

There is such a thing as “too much,” and in this case, the abundance of illustrations could be a little overboard for some. However, we don’t think that’s the case for kids aged 10-12 years old. If anything, that’s a huge plus for them and helps them visualize the story. If you are a young adult reading the book, you may feel that it’s too much. 

Two positive things to realize are these facts: One, The Crossover is targeted towards kids around 10-12 years old; and two, it has a good enough plot and story that an older teen or young adult may take an interest in it.

Why Read The Crossover:

  • Received several awards like the 2015 John Newberry Medal for Most Distinguished Contribution to American Literature for Children and the Coretta Scott King Honor award.
  • Does an excellent job of conveying the rhythm and emotions only by varying the text sizes in the pages.
  • It is flashy, entertaining, and emotionally-engaging with lots of pop culture references.
The Crossover (The Crossover Series)
  • Alexander, Kwame (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 256 Pages - 03/05/2019 (Publication Date) - HMH Books for Young Readers (Publisher)

Our Runner Ups for the Best Basketball Books for KidsOur Runner Ups for the Best Basketball Books for Kids

Salt in His Shoes: Michael Jordan in Pursuit of a Dream

The younger generation did not know much about Michael Jordan (other than the fact that his sneakers cost a fortune). The book created by his mom Deloris is surely an excellent way to introduce kids to the one considered the greatest basketball player of all time. MJ was really talented, but growing up, he was not the most physically gifted kid out there. He had to learn to claw, fight, and scrap his way up. Who knew Michael Jordan was the ultimate underdog as a kid? Without a doubt, everyone, including kids, loves an underdog story.

What Makes It Unique:

  • This story could only come from Jordan’s own family and not from any insider.
  • Has a heart-warming and compelling ending that will will truly inspire kids and effect optimism.
  • The story was beautifully illustrated.

It’s not every day that we get to peek into the early life of Michael Jordan. That along makes Salt In His Shoes worth the read, especially for kids. Several readers do not like the religious aspect of the book (specifically about praying), but of course, you can’t please everybody.

Why Read Salt In His Shoes:

  • Beautiful lesson of hard work and perseverance
  • The illustrations keep the young kids engaged, and it complements and adds details to the story that otherwise wouldn’t have been there.
  • It can be enjoyed by kids of all ages. Kids third grade and younger will quickly understand the story because of the language and less complicated grammar. However, older kids will find the lessons a pleasant topic of discussion.
Sale
Salt In His Shoes: Michael Jordan in Pursuit of a Dream
  • Hardcover Book
  • Jordan, Deloris (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

The Million Dollar Shot (by Dan Gutman)

You don’t expect a children’s book to have the plot of Inception, so a simple feel-good story like The Million Dollar Shot should be something kids can appreciate. It is about Eddie Ball (no relation to Lavar), a kid who thinks he can reverse his family’s poverty by making the free throw line shot in the halftime of the NBA Finals. It’s not all fine and dandy because there is someone who will do everything to keep that from happening.

What Makes It Unique:

  • The simple plot makes the story easy to read and follow.
  • Like all the books of his Million Dollar series, the author Dan Gutman puts the kids in a position that they dream of– make something and win a million dollars. It’s hard to argue against that formula, given the success of Gutman’s books.
  • Very realistic, detailed, and believable since NBA teams often have contest like the one Eddie entered

There is one moral flaw in the book that a reader pointed out, and we happen to agree that Eddie Ball committed what can be considered fraud to qualify for the contest. (Read the book to find out.) While the story is cute and all that, it may teach children the wrong lessons. Yes, Eddie persevered and worked hard for that one chance at a million dollars, and that’s the lesson we want the children to learn. However, like in any other situation, the end does not always justify means.

  • Perfect for young kids because it is fast-paced, short, and funny.
  • Has just the right amount of suspense to get the kids reading for more
  • Has a young female character that makes it relatable to young girls 
The Million Dollar Shot
  • Hyperion Books for Children
  • Gutman, Dan (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Our Value Picks for the Best Books for KidsOur Value Picks for the Best Basketball Books for Kids

EllRay Jakes Stands Tall (written by Sally Warner and illustrated by Brian Biggs)

The character of EllRay in this book is arguably the most relatable to little kids. He is short and loves basketball more than everybody else in his class, but he is often picked last in games because of his height. Would he be able to get “stand tall” against the challenge?

What Makes It Unique:

  • EllRay’s character is not a goody-two-shoes or someone bad and conniving. He is just like any other eight-year-old kid with a great sense of humor.
  • Ideal for kids who are reluctant readers because it’s not too short and not too long either
  • Appropriate for kids as young as five and as old as 10

As the ultimate children’s basketball book, there is not much to critique EllRay Jakes Stands Tall. EllRay is adorably relatable, but one reader pointed out the gender stereotypes that are just readily accepted and went mostly unresolved. If you are sensitive to this type of social issues, this may not be for you.

Why Read EllRay Jakes Stands Tall

  • Sally Warner deserves a ton of credit for creating realistic dialogues.
  • It’s a real-life peek to what School Library Journal calls “playground politics.”
  • EllRay’s character is encouraging kids to pursue their own path. He doesn’t let his friend Marco influence him from not participating in the sport he loves.
Sale
EllRay Jakes the Recess King!
  • Warner, Sally (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 176 Pages - 05/05/2015 (Publication Date) - Puffin Books (Publisher)

The Everything Kids' Basketball Book, 4th Edition: The All-Time Greats, Legendary Teams, Today's Superstars―and Tips on Playing Like a Pro (by Bob Schaller)

This is a curveball compared to what we have in the rest of our recommended basketball book for kids. However, we feel that this serves a need and caters well to kids 6 to 8 years old who really think, eat, and sleep basketball.

What Makes It Unique:

Again, this really is a basketball book for kids– no more, no less. It’s not something that you give to a kid who has no interest in the sport. It’s not something that you would give a child to make him enjoy reading. But if you’re giving it to a kid who’s a dyed-in-the-wool basketball fan, this book will surely be appreciated. 

Why Read The Everything Kids’ Basketball Book, 4th Edition:

  • Includes exciting stories about the NBA Finals
  • Full of statistics that a young basketball enthusiast would surely enjoy
  • Designed as an interactive basketball book, so it keeps children engaged
The Everything Kids' Basketball Book, 4th Edition: The All-Time Greats, Legendary Teams, Today's Superstars―and Tips on Playing Like a Pro
  • Schaller, Bob (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 144 Pages - 10/29/2019 (Publication Date) - Everything (Publisher)

FAQ on Best Basketball Books for Kids

Why Should You Read Basketball Books?

If you do like basketball and want to improve on it, there are more things that you can do aside from playing and practicing. Basketball books help you with the mental aspect of the game as it contains inspirational stories that encourage you to work hard and persevere. Also, many of these books are fictional novels that offer fascinating plots, so in that way, reading basketball is one way to hone your reading skills while also enjoying what you do.

Which NBA Players Have Written a Book?

Basketball superstars like Kobe Bryant, Larry Bird, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Magic Johnson have all written books. The head coach of the Showtime Lakers Pat Riley also wrote one as well as Jalen Rose and Wilt Chamberlain. However, while we don’t discourage kids from reading it, the adult demographic is obviously the target audience for the books that they have written.

What’s the Benefit of Reading vs. Watching Basketball Stories?

Perhaps the benefit of reading against watching basketball stories is reading allows you to use your imagination and improve your vocabulary. Thus, it keeps your brain healthy. Another thing is, books are often more detailed than movies and documentaries, so you learn more about a person, or in this case, about the game of basketball compared to watching stories about it. 

Fiction vs. Nonfiction When Choosing a Basketball Book

We suggest you read both, but if you can only choose one, nonfiction basketball books are often more valuable than fictional ones. Why? It is because it involves real people and real stories, and more often than not, truth really is stranger than fiction. These basketball superstars are treated like gods, but learning more about them as real people humanize them in a fan’s eyes.

Another benefit of choosing nonfiction basketball books is the practical things that we learn from the writer’s experiences. When people are presented with facts, they often think about how they can use it in their own lives. How often do you find yourself engrossed in a fictional story and concluded, “This is not going to happen in real life?” Fictional books can be entertaining, but the impact of reading what you know are real stories is just too powerful to neglect.

How to Choose the Best Basketball Books for Kids

Choosing the best basketball books for kids is a matter of selecting them appropriately according to their age range. Some are written for kindergarten and early grade school boys; some are meant for the older kids 10-12 years old. There are plenty of basketball books to read for your kids, and this list that we compiled is a perfect place to start.

Wrapping Things Up: The Best Basketball Books for Kids

In closing, here are the best basketball books for kids we reviewed today:

Our Top Favorite
Stephen Curry: The Inspiring Story of One of Basketball's Sharpest Shooters (Basketball Biography Books)
Our Top Runner Up
Salt In His Shoes: Michael Jordan in Pursuit of a Dream
Our Top Value Pick
EllRay Jakes the Recess King!
Book Title
Stephen Curry: The Inspiring Story of One of Basketball's Sharpest Shooters
Salt in His Shoes: Michael Jordan in Pursuit of a Dream
EllRay Jakes Stands Tall
Prime Eligible?
Our Top Favorite
Stephen Curry: The Inspiring Story of One of Basketball's Sharpest Shooters (Basketball Biography Books)
Book Title
Stephen Curry: The Inspiring Story of One of Basketball's Sharpest Shooters
Prime Eligible?
Our Top Runner Up
Salt In His Shoes: Michael Jordan in Pursuit of a Dream
Book Title
Salt in His Shoes: Michael Jordan in Pursuit of a Dream
Prime Eligible?
Our Top Value Pick
EllRay Jakes the Recess King!
Book Title
EllRay Jakes Stands Tall
Prime Eligible?

What kids want something out of a book is very different from what an adult would look for. More often than not, kids want pictures and things that keep them engaged and excited. With these things in mind, we recommended six books as the best basketball books for kids.

We feel that The Crossoverand Stephen Curry: The Inspiring Story of One of Basketball's Sharpest Shooters are the best choices because it transcends age barrier. The former is fiction, and the latter is nonfiction, but we think both can be enjoyed by children of all ages. 

The runners-up in the list include a story about a young Michael Jordan (Salt in His Shoes) and The Million Dollar Shot. Salt in His Shoes, in our opinion, is strictly for kids as young as five or six. The Million Dollar Shotoffers an inspirational story, but the one major moral flaw in the book may teach kids the wrong lesson.

Another very relatable basketball book for kids is EllRay Jakes Stands Tall. EllRay Jakes Stands Tall. Written by Sally Warner, EllRay was the short guy in his class who couldn’t wait to grow old and grow tall. It is appropriate for kids aged 5-10 years old, and we like how EllRay’s character is not the goody-two-shoes nor the evil kid. He is just an honest soul who wants to pursue what he loves while helping others.

The other value pick that we got is The Everything Kids' Basketball Book, 4th Edition. It’s different from all the other books we recommended because it is designed to be interactive. It is full of games and activities that will keep your child engaged, given he is already head-over-heels crazy about basketball. Otherwise, this book will never see the light of day again.

With six of our most recommended basketball books for kids, we have a complete set that identifies with children across all ages. Of course, the best basketball books for kids, in our opinion, are the ones that go beyond that age barrier. With all that being said, we are confident that we got those types of books in our classification. The only thing that’s left to do is to see it for yourself.

Did you find this post helpful? Then you may also like our post on the best basketball books for teens.

More basketball entertainment reviews here.

Hoops Addict
Hoops Addict

Hoops Addict was created to help basketball fans of all ages learn more about the sport and find the best basketball gear to improve their ability to hoop. He has been a huge basketball fan for decades, watching thousands of basketball games through the years to learn the ins and outs of the game.

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