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.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

My Banned Books Week Pick: ATHLETIC SHORTS by Chris Crutcher

By Brenda Barrera

September 25 through October 1, 2016 marks Banned Books Week, a celebration of the freedom to read and an opportunity to create awareness about the issues of book censorship and the importance of our first amendment. Yep, it’s 2016, and it's hard to believe but there are still challenges to have books removed from libraries and schools. Here’s a statistic from the American Library Association: more than 11,300 books have been challenged since 1982 when Banned Books Week was launched.

It still boggles my mind when I see the long list of award-winning titles from classics to contemporary bestsellers on lists of Banned Books. When I share these lists with my bibliophile friends they are typically aghast. I wondered if there were any sports-related titles and noticed on the “100 most frequently challenged books: 1990-1999” down at #63 was a young adult (YA) title: ATHLETIC SHORTS by Chris Crutcher.

Crutcher’s body of work is outstanding and typically involves male athletes and sports, but the themes are universal and relevant to sporty girls, too. I downloaded a copy of ATHLETIC SHORTS and re-read a story featuring a female athlete, “The Other Pin.” The main characters are from Crutcher’s book, THE CRAZY HORSE ELECTRIC GAME. In this short story, Petey Shropshrire is a high school wrestler who is goaded by a friend into agreeing to wrestle an opponent no one else wants to take on, Chris Byers. Why? We learn a few pages into the story that Chris is not a typical competitor. Chris is a girl. She developed an interest in wrestling because her older brothers were state champions. In fact, she learned takedowns before she was in kindergarten and by middle school was recruited to join the boy's team. Petey and Chris discover something else they  have in common: both have faced ridicule for being the one to wrestle a girl and a girl who  has faced ridicule for being a wrestler and not afraid to take on a boy. I'm not sure if I agree with the ending and their match, but it is an interesting story.

While “The Other Pin” may not be the story that provokes challenges in this six-story collection, here’s something to think about: if ATHLETIC SHORTS were to be removed from a library book shelf or recommended reading list, how many girls who are wrestlers or who are interested in wrestling and want to read about someone like themselves, would be deprived of this opportunity? Something to reflect upon during Banned Books Week, as when we celebrate free expression and the freedom to read.

Additional Information:
ALA Banned Books Week (www.ala.org/bbooks/bannedbooksweek)

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Interesting Article and Book on Title IX

"Before Title IX, one in 27 girls played sports. Today that number is two in five. While we still have far to go before every girl has equal access to sports, especially girls of color, it is clear that we are making headway. This summer at the 2016 Rio Olympics, the world watched as woman after woman broke barriers, shattered records and won titles across a multitude of sports."

Now that the Olympics are over, it would be easy to forget all of the amazing female athletes featured over the summer. The quote above is from an article shared on the She Network on the role of Title IX and female athletes in America.

The article, called "Title IX and The Rise of Female Athletes in America,"  connects to a number of other articles about female athletes. In one from the LA Times, it states, “It’s not perfect,” swimmer DiRado said. “But the more girls can grow up and watch Olympics like this, knowing they’re just as good as the men’s teams, it’s goes a long way.’’

It continues, "Can it carry over to an increase in U.S. women’s sports popularity during non-Olympic years? So far, no good. The only stable women’s pro sports league is the WNBA, but that basketball league has benefited from the support of the powerful NBA."

So the fight for increased attention on women's sports continues, but things continue moving in the right direction.
For more about the role of Title IX, check out this book:

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Valuable Life Lessons per The Road Less Taken by Kathryn Bertine

By Brenda Barrera

Kathryn Bertine might not be a household name, but if you support girls + sports + books, she’s someone to know. Not only is Bertine a professional cyclist, but she has competed at a professional level in: ice-skating, triathlon, and rowing. In addition to being a versatile athlete, she’s also an activist – fighting for equality on and off the playing field. But wait . . . she’s also a documentary filmmaker capturing the “passion, pitfalls, and power of women’s professional cycling” in her documentary film, “Half the Road.” And, oh yeah, add author of two books, AS GOOD AS GOLD (2010) and THE ROAD LESS TAKEN: LESSONS FROM A LIFE SPENT CYCLING (2014).

I was fortunate to meet Bertine at a screening of her documentary, “Half the Road” at the College of William & Mary a few years ago and treasure my autographed copy of THE ROAD LESS TAKEN. Today marks the start of September and that means many teachers and students are trading their flip-flops for laced up shoes and heading to the classroom instead of the seashore. Here’s a gentle reminder: settling down with a good book doesn’t have to end with summer vacation.

THE ROAD LESS TAKEN is a thoughtful, provocative collection of essays and espnW features that are short, making for an easy read. Bertine shares lessons gleaned from her years as a professional cyclist, a tough existence with meager pay; where the stresses of finding a homestay and couch to sleep on in a foreign country are typical for female professional cyclists. Many chapters revolve around the sport of cycling and trying to qualify for a spot at the Olympic games, but several are about personal, everyday experience that young adult readers and older will enjoy.

A few of my favorite chapters include the humorous, “A Cyclists Letter to Santa,” and a thoughtful reflection on Lance Armstrong in, “The Guy in Yellow” where I found myself nodding in agreement. How is it possible to feel so much dislike and yet empathy for someone who is so polarizing? She shares her perspective as a cyclist, a female cyclist, a journalist, and a person and sums it up: he is a flawed human being. I agree.

You don’t have to squeeze into spandex bike shorts and maneuver cobblestones to appreciate the moving chapter, “The Bonus Wife,” which shares how she fell in love with her husband, newly widowed and the treatment by mutual friends that led her to study how society deals with grief. Many chapters explore aspects of inequality in sport, but an inspirational article on retired NBA player, Adonal Foyle, teaching ‘growl power’ to young girls – that is, take charge, be confident, and go after what you want. 

Bertine reveals her vulnerabilities alongside unwavering passion for sport, equality, and tackling life’s many hills. There’s plenty of ‘growl power’ in these pages to inspire readers to attack athletic challenges and move beyond everyday obstacles.

For more information:
Kathryn Bertine website: www.kathrynbertine.com