Welcome to SPORTY GIRL BOOKS. At SPORTY GIRL, we want to give all girls the chance to love, watch, play, read, and write about any sport that interests them. We look forward to the day when the words, "You play like a girl," is the biggest compliment anyone can receive.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Sporty Girl Books of 2014: Perfect Gifts for the Holidays

With today being the first day of Hanukkah and Christmas less than ten days away, I've created a list of sporty girl books published in 2014 to help with last minute gift giving.  You're welcome:)

Middle Grade

Eliza Bing is (Not) a Big, Fat Quitter by Carmella Van Vleet (Tae Kwan Do)*
The Secret at Haney Field: A Baseball Mystery by R. M. Clark (Baseball)
Pack of Dorks by Beth Vrabel (Tae Kwan Do)*^
Dance Divas: Two to Tango by Sheryl Berk (Dance)

Young Adult

Being Sloan Jacobs by Lauren Morrill (Figure Skating and Hockey)*+
Take Me On by Katie McGarry (Kickboxing)
Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Mirranda Kenneally (Running)*
Relax, I'm a Ninja by Natalie Whipple (Martial Arts)*
In Deep by Terra Elan McVoy (Swimming)
Adrenaline Crush by Laurie Crompton (Daredevil/Thrill Seeker)
Girl on a Wire, by Gwenda Bond (Circus)
Gold Metal Winter by Donna Freitas (Figure Skating)

I've heard good things about all the books on the list, but the books with an * are the ones I've personally read and can recommend
+ Books I've reviewed (click on + to read review)
^ My nine year old's favorite read of the year

Looking for more ideas? Here's a Goodreads list of Athlete Girl Novels (includes ones not published in 2014)
And, of course, you can follow the link at the top of our blog to our list of Middle Grade and Young Adult Sporty Books.

I'm sure I've missed some out this year. Please share ones you've enjoyed. I'm also interested in books for younger readers (picture books, early readers, and chapter books) so feel free to share those and help me with my last minute gift giving.

Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas and Kwanza!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Holiday Suggestions

It’s been a busy year for the bloggers at Sporty Girl Books. We've had babies, signed with agents, got book deals, and been busy at our day jobs. We've been writing, reading, and caring for our families.

Many of us haven’t had time to start shopping. I’m always about giving books as gifts whenever it’s possible.

So…I’m opening the forum here for suggestion! What are your favorite sporty girl books that came out in 2014? They might be books that we already have on our suggested reading list, or they might be things that we’ve missed and need to add. 


I'll do a recap from the suggestions we get!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Donate to help girls on #GivingTuesday and Every Day

My parents kept a large pottery bowl on top of a tall cabinet. The bowl was shallow and wide and throughout the year, they'd place in it all the letters asking for money. Come the beginning of December, they'd cull through the bowl, recycle duplicates and winnow down the pile to decide where their giving money would go.

Most of the giving I do takes the form of volunteering my time, baking for sales, and buying poinsettias and such for organizations in which my kids are involved.  I may not have that wide, shallow pottery bowl, but I still care about where my money goes and how it can best help others.

One of the things I want my money to do is to help advance opportunities in sports for girls and women. As I mentioned in my review of Blumenthal's, Let Me Play, the progress of women in education and in business has paralleled the progress of women in sports. Here are a few larger organizations that we've mentioned on Sporty Girl Books you might want to consider today on #GivingTuesday or any time of the year.

Women's Sports Foundation:
Founded in 1974 by tennis legend, Billie Jean King, the Women's Sports Foundation is dedicated to advancing the lives of girls and women through sports and physical activity. Their programs include Sports4Life, a national effort to increase the participation and retention of African American and Hispanic girls, ages 11-18 in developmental youth sports programs and GoGirlGo!, an award winning curriculum and sports education program, that works to improve the health of sedentary girls and keeps girls involved in physical activity by supporting programs and organizations that work with girls. Donate here.

The Girl Scouts of America:
From building healthy girls to creating healthy leaders, the Girl Scouts are encouraging girls to participate in GirlSports, a program that promotes group and individual sports as an opportunity to gain vital leadership skills. They offer Legacy Athlete badges that signify good sportsmanship, cross-training knowledge, coaching skills, and more. They can upload their own stories and be inspired by sports trailblazers. Donate here. 

Baseball for All:
Justine Siegal made history in 2011 when she became the first woman to throw batting practice to an MLB team. Her organization, Baseball For All, fosters, encourages, and provides opportunities for girls to participate in baseball. They educate the public concerning the importance of providing equal opportunities and provide resources for girls who are told they are not allowed to try out for a school team. "If you tell a girl she can't play baseball what else will she think she can't do?" Donate now.

We Need Diverse Books:
If you read this blog, you probably know a little bit about this issue. Bottom line, all children should be able to see themselves in a book. This organization supports diverse authors in classrooms, internships in publishing, diverse books and programming, diversifying classrooms, and developing educational kits for libraries and schools. The organization's main goal is to promote non-majority narratives and many of our athletic girls fall into this category in one way or another. Donate now.

Leave a comment below with a link to your favorite #GivingTuesday choice so that other readers can check them out!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

I am woman, hear me roar

We girls have incredible bodies. We can run, swim, race, hurdle, climb mountains, swing between uneven parallel bars, and carve snow with the best of them. But, for me, the most amazing thing our bodies can do is give birth. It's raw and real and hard, but extremely rewarding, work. Our bodies change and grow, often in exciting proportions, and then, through all kinds of different methods (from scheduled caesarean sections, to medicated hospital births, to birth centers, and natural birth in our own homes), we deliver this baby we were able to grow and nourish inside ourselves.

To quote Jim Gaffigan, one of my favorite comedians, "Truly, women are amazing. Think about it this way: a woman can grow a baby inside her body. Then a woman can deliver the baby through her body. Then, by some miracle, a woman can feed a baby with her body."

Doesn't that make us sound pretty dang incredible? Never, have I felt more powerful and more in touch with the person that I can be than when I'm in labor and then holding my newborn child.

In a society that often causes us to question our bodies and our abilities, midwife Ina Nay Gaskin inspires me to believe in myself and the power of women. A few of my favorite quotes are below:

We are not lemons. Just as we can train to run that 10K or even to swim the English Channel, we can train do this birthing thing.

Me after having baby number five this September.

What's your favorite thing we, as girls, can do?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Playing with the Boys - Guest Post By Ellie and Karina

My guests this week are Ellie and Karina. Ellie and Karina play soccer with their town's U10 girls travel team. They also are often the only girls in their grade playing soccer with the boys at recess. They have written a story they would like to share with you called Girls Do Sports Too.

Girls Do Sports Too!
by Ellie and Karina

Have you ever been told by a boy that girls play sports weaker than boys? That is NOT true! Our names are Karina and Ellie, and we are going to tell you why that is wrong.
On the first day of school in 3rd grade we walked into school together. We met our teacher, had writing class, and then had recess.
At recess, we decided to play soccer being the only girls there. As we approached the soccer field, one boy came up to us and said, “Girls can’t play, they're horrible at sports. Go away.” 
“Why not?” we asked the boys. 
The boys answered, “Because they’re slow, not strong, and not athletic.”
“We’ll prove you wrong by showing you a soccer game.”
"Deal!” said the boys. “The best two boys have to play Ellie and Karina.  We’ll play you tomorrow at lunch recess.”
The next morning we walked into school and saw the boys sitting on a bench. “Hey girls be prepared to get crushed at soccer!” The boys laughed.
We nodded to each other, “Ya right.” We had gym, writing, then lunch and recess. At gym we practiced soccer and that was helpful.
After two hours it was time to get the game started. It was the two of us playing two other boys.
We started with the ball. We passed the ball back and forth, then the boys took the ball away from us. They almost scored a goal, but Ellie defended it.
She passed to me and I was zooming up the field while she followed me. I gave a big kick .... and I scored!!
Nice goal,” Ellie told me as she gave me a high five.
The boys started out with the ball, since we scored the awesome goal. They started dribbling up the field but my foot touched the ball and it went out. The boys had the throw in. 
“Sorry Karina,” Ellie shouted to me. Ellie thought to herself that the boys must have have a far throw in, so she moved back. The boys threw the ball quickly but instead she trapped it. 
Suddenly Ellie started sprinting up the field the boys started coming. The boys were coming right for me and she saw Karina wide open so she passed to her. Our teacher yelled “Two minutes.” Karina was about to score a goal but then the whistle blew. “Nice try,” Karina told them. 
“Ouch, bad loss,” screamed the boys watching the game. 
We did it! We proved the boys wrong. Girls are as equal as boys.
The lesson in this story is to always have courage that you can beat the boys. Also that boys are not better than girls at sports.

What do you love about playing soccer?
Karina and Ellie: We love playing soccer because it’s a fun experience and a good exercise

Why do you think more girls don't play sports at recess?
Karina and Ellie: They are embarrassed that they might lose or mess up against the boys. Also because they think boys are better and they don't have the courage.

Is there anything that the school or teachers could do to get more girls to play?
Karina and Ellie:  Probably no, but the teachers could always make sure the boys don’t say no when girls ask to play.

What else do you love to do?
Karina and Ellie: We love sports! We also love to cook, go outside, paint, and play with friends.

What advice would you give a girl who wants to play with the boys at recess?
DO IT!!!!!!! don’t be afraid and have courage

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Discover Your Inner Athlete: A Girl Scout Program

On Saturday, October 25, I had the opportunity to attend an Adult Learning Conference sponsored by the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts. The theme for the day was Discover Your Inner Athlete: Lessons in Courage, Confidence, and Character. 

So you know I was excited about the opportunity!

As one of the adult volunteers for a 6th grade Cadette Troop, I’m always looking for things to try with my girls. I was excited for the opportunity to explore ways to bring the athletes and non-athletes in my troop together.

The keynote speaker for the day was Whitney Post, whose athletic achievements include 4-time member of the US Women’s National Rowing Team and alternate for the US Olympic team (2000), lightweight double—among others. Her list of amazing achievements is here: http://lifealivecoaching.org/about-me/
Because it seems like so many kids I know have been playing a sport since pre-school, it was refreshing to hear that Whitney didn’t start rowing until College. Her non-sports achievements include co-founding a number of organizations, including The Body Self and Eating for Life Alliance. She’s also the Director of the Women’s Sports Foundation’s GoGirlGo! Boston.
Whitney’s keynote talk was titled “The Top Ten Things to Appreciate about Being a Female Athlete.”
At first, there was an uncomfortable silence or perhaps a giggle or two in the room. As an auditorium full of Adult Girl Scout Volunteers, we came in many sizes and shapes. I don’t always identify as an athlete, so I found myself looking around nervously. I don’t think I was alone in wondering who identified as an athlete.

It didn’t take long for Whitney’s intention to be clear, however. The first item on her list was “everyone is capable of engaging their athleticism.” Whether it’s walking down the street, taking a Zumba class, or running a marathon, we all have a way to engage our own version of athleticism. Finding a way to communicate this larger definition of being an athlete is our challenge with young girls.

One of my favorite take-aways from Whitney’s talk is this: Find the JOY in your exercise. In other words, figure out what you like and do that. She also shared a quote from Susan B. Anthony from 1896 that I’d never heard.

Bicycling has done more to emancipate women than any one thing in the world. It gives her a feeling of self-reliance and independence the moment she takes her seat; and away she goes, the picture of untrammelled womanhood.

Imagine, athleticism as a means for independence. It is an amazing and empowering idea. Think about all the things exercise and athleticism does for our girls. Confidence. Joy. Health. Character.
Later in the day, during a break-out session, I had the chance to explore more concepts of bringing out our inner athlete. I identify as a golfer, but I don’t always think of myself as an athlete—after taking part in this workshop, I’m going to start!

I met a woman who plays softball, one who curls, and one who participates on a roller derby team. One woman in the group was a salsa dancer, one was a country line dancer, and one was an avid Zumba class participant. Out of about 15 people, not one of the group participated in the same sport. It was an amazingly diverse list of activities.

Remember, these are all adult Girl Scouts. I’m always proud to be an adult Girl Scout, but on this day, I was proud to be amongst this very cool group of diverse athletes.

So…below in the comments…what do you appreciate about being a female athlete?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Battle of the Sexes: Equality and relationships

My kids have discovered The 70's Show and are binge watching the program on Netflix. In the "The Battle of the Sexists" episode, next door neighbors and love interests Donna and Eric play a series of basketball and air hockey games. Eric loses to Donna and feels emasculated. His male friends don't make the situation any better with their teasing. Through the course of the show, Donna tries losing on purpose to make Eric feel more manly but can't really stomach her own fakery. In the end, they finally agree not to keep score when they play against each other.

So it is still the same for girls?

Many women will agree that their daughters have a much more level playing field in sports, and education (see last week's post on the book LET ME PLAY) but what about in hetero love and relationships. Is there still a series of male/female game playing that encourages girls to be less than they are? Do they lose on purpose in athletics, dumb down in class, deny their own sexual desire all because they don't want to drive the boy away?

From my adult experiences, I would guess, yes. What do you think? And if you agree, is this only a hetero experience or does it carry over into homosexual relationships as well? Are there YA books you've read that show this dynamic?

Let me know what you think in the comments!