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, March 8, 2023

Book Review for #InternationalWomensDay : RENA GLICKMAN, QUEEN OF JUDO

What better way to celebrate International Women's Day on March 8th than to amplify a notable woman . . . so my #sportygirlbooks pick for today is RENA GLICKMAN, QUEEN OF JUDO by Eve Nadel Catarevas and illustrated by Martina Peluso (Kar-Ben Publishing, 2022).

While some sports fans might not immediately recognize the name Rena Glickman (1935-2009), this might help -- her full name is Rena “Rusty” Glickman Kanokogi, and she can be described as the mother of women's judo and a sports pioneer who has inspired many girls and women around the world.

This significant picture book biography tells the story of Rusty, a Jewish-American, from her early childhood in New York, including how she earned her nickname “Rusty.” From a young age, she wanted to be like her brother, Charly, so she lifted weights and did push-ups just like him. In the 1950s, people chastised her for being “unladylike,” and she found herself getting into fights with other girls, so she “was always trying to improve her self-defense skills.”

Luckily for her and many young women of that era, the YMCA provided an outlet for physical activity, and she learned they offered judo classes. However, to her dismay, she learned that only men were allowed in the judo class. This is where persistence comes into play as she talked her way into the class, and when it came time to enter her first competition in 1959, she had to disguise herself as a man in order to compete. (Can you think of any other female athletes who had to do something similar in order to participate in a sport? I immediately thought about Kathrine Switzer who signed up to run the Boston Marathon as K.V. Switzer in 1967 since women were not allowed to participate and since she didn't use her first name the officials did not know she was a woman.)

There are many “firsts” associated with Rusty Kanokogi — the first girl to participate in her YMCAs judo program — first woman to train at the world-famous Kodokan in Japan — first woman to become a seventh-degree black belt in judo — and the first coach for the U.S. Olympic Women’s Judo Team in 1988.

The Queen of Judo tells the story of a remarkable woman who found her passion for sports as a young girl and it has a resonating message: believe in your abilities and never give up on your dreams. A bonus is the Author’s Note which includes more information and photographs of Rusty Kanokogi.

For more information about Rena “Rusty” Glickman Kanokogi

Wednesday, February 1, 2023


It’s February 1, 2023 and time to celebrate National Girls and Women in Sports Day (NGWSD) and, if you want to give a girl a book (today or any day), I highly recommend this empowering sporty, adventure picture book: IF YOU GIVE A GIRL A BIKE by Hayley Diep and illustrated by Braden Hallett.

Not only does the main character and her two girlfriends like to bike, but in the spirit of “if you see it, you can be it,” she falls in love with one sport and, subsequently several other sports throughout the story. When she spots a skateboarder cruising down the sidewalk, she has to try that sport; when she watches someone rock climbing on TV, she tries that sport; after a car drives by with a surfboard on the roof, she immediately hits the water to surf, surf, surf; and before the sun sinks into the horizon, she wants to go back out on her bike. Doesn’t that sound like a perfect day?

This delightful sporty girl picture book is a fun read-aloud that includes repetition and accurate lingo for each sport. When she takes a tumble or wipes out, she is not afraid of a few “scrapes or bruises” and gets right back up to continue her adventure — a powerful lesson.

Diep, a teacher and cyclist, wrote an article for LIV Cycling (a cycling brand dedicated to girls and women) about the book that includes how-to tips on encouraging more girls to fall in love with bicycling. One of my favorite lines from the article is, “After all, biking builds grit, resilience, and confidence, and we want our girls to have these traits!”

Monday, January 23, 2023

Book Review: DAZZLING TRAVIS #ReadYourWorld

By Brenda Barrera
I was gifted a copy of DAZZLING TRAVIS by Hannah Carmona, illustrated by Brenda Figueroa, and published by Cardinal Rule for Multicultural Children's Book Day #ReadYourWorld Day.

Each year I have reviewed a book for MCBD, I request a title that combines girls and sports. At first glance, I paused, “Hmmm . . . I’m not sure this is the correct match.” But l was curious, so I turned to the first page and had my aha moment.

Travis is a delightful, confident little boy with a wide range of interests that vary from playing dress-up in “colorful denim and glitter galore” who takes ballet classes and likes to play basketball. He is also self-confident and can stand up to playground bullies. One of the bullies (a girl) grabs his doll and exclaims, “Boys CAN’T play with that!” But Travis firmly replies, “I am who I am!” He also tells them a boy can like pink just as a girl can like blue.

In many ways, this book is not only about children who feel they are different but an opportunity to open up a dialog about acceptance, bullying, and peer pressure. Sporty girl readers are sure to find relatable situations – they may be the only girl on their sports team or get teased about playing a particular sport. The author includes age-appropriate topics and questions to engage readers like, “What do you think it would be like if we were all the same?”

The back matter profiles a few people who persevered and were dazzling in their own ways, like Elizabeth Stride, also known as Lizzie Arlington. Born in 1877, she was the first American woman to sign a baseball contract. She pitched for a professional men’s team in the late 19th century and played on all-female teams.

I enjoyed this rhyming picture book, and the colored illustrations reflect diverse children. If you are looking for a book (recommended for readers aged 4-10, but I think it will appeal to younger readers) that celebrates differences and being confident, this is a good pick.

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2023 is in its 10th year! This non-profit children’s literacy initiative was founded by Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen; two diverse book-loving moms who saw a need to shine the spotlight on all of the multicultural books and authors on the market while also working to get those books into the hands of young readers and educators. Ten years in, MCBD’s mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves continues. For more information CLICK HERE.

Friday, January 28, 2022

Meet These Asian Pacific American Female Athletes who are CHANGING THE GAME #ReadYourWorld


Get to know Amy, Anona, Catherine, Chloe, EJ, Evelyn, Julie, Kristi, Liane, Megan, Michelle (2), Miki, Mohini, Naomi, Natasha, and Victoria

I was gifted a copy of Mia Wenjen’s CHANGING THE GAME: ASIAN PACIFIC AMERICAN FEMALE ATHLETES, a Middle Grade (MG) book for Multicultural Children's Book Day #ReadYourWorld Day. I’m always excited to read and learn about talented and trailblazing female athletes!

I recognized several of the women profiled, like New York City Marathon and Boston Marathon champion Miki Gorman [Japanese American], who ruled the roads in the late 1970s. I did not know she moved to the U.S. at age 28 with only $10 in her pocket! Another was two-time Olympic Gold medalist Chloe Kim [Korean American], who dominated the halfpipe and slopestyle competition to take Olympic gold medals in 2016. Heads up: Chloe will be competing in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

There were some athletes who I admit that I was not familiar with like EJ Lee Smith [Korean American], a college point guard phenom whose father didn’t know she played basketball until he saw her on TV and Anona Napoleon [Native Hawaiian] who was surfing the big waves back in the 1950s and dominated ocean sports. A diving accident left her paralyzed at age 19, but she made a full recovery and was atop the podium, winning the 1961 Mākaha Surfing Competition.

Each entry opens with a relatable question to engage the reader, such as, “Would you join a boys’ team as the only girl?” Four-time Olympic medalist Julie Chu [Chinese/Puerto Rican American] joined a boys’ ice hockey team because girls had no leagues. I remember watching on TV and cheering gymnast Amy Chow [Chinese American] at the 1996 and 2000 Summer Olympic Games but was surprised to learn she was also a pole vaulter and diver in high school and continued as a student-athlete diving for Stanford University.

CHANGING THE GAME is a slim, MG paperback that includes photos, pull-out quotes, athletic accomplishments, interesting anecdotes, and a list of URLs to learn more about the athletes at the end. Highly recommend this sports book that will surely inspire readers and an important contribution to collections that reflect the diversity in our sports world. Plus, an ideal pick to tie into the upcoming National Girls and Women in Sports Day on February 2, 2022, and Beijing Olympic Games February 4-20, 2022.

CHANGING THE GAME features these sports:  Basketball - Diving - Golf - Gymnastics - Ice Hockey - Ice Skating - Kayaking - Marathon Running - Mixed Martial Arts - Snowboarding - Soccer - Surfing - Swimming - Tennis - Volleyball

FREE RESOURCES from Multicultural Children’s Book Day

Diversity Book Lists & Activities for Teachers and Parents

Homeschool Diverse Kidlit Booklist & Activity Kit

FREE Teacher Classroom Activism and Activists Kit

FREE Teacher Classroom Empathy Kit

FREE Teacher Classroom Kindness Kit

FREE Teacher Classroom Physical and Developmental Challenges Kit

FREE Teacher Classroom Poverty Kit

FREE Homeschool Diverse Kidlit Booklist & Activity Kit

FREE Teacher Classroom Raising Awareness on Systemic Racism in America Classroom Kit

Gallery of Our Free Posters

FREE Diversity Book for Classrooms Program

Saturday, July 31, 2021

#WomenInBaseballWeek Interview with Rajani LaRocca and Much Ado About Baseball

Today is the final day of this year's Women in Baseball Week. What better way to end the week than with an interview with one of my favorite authors, Rajani LaRocca, whose book, Much Ado About Baseball, was released in June!

Rajani was born in India, raised in Kentucky, and now lives in the Boston area, where she practices medicine and writes award-winning novels and picture books, including Midsummer’s Mayhem (2019), Seven Golden Rings (2020), Red, White, and Whole (2021), Bracelets for Bina’s Brothers (2021), Much Ado About Baseball (2021), and more. She’s always been an omnivorous reader, and now she is an omnivorous writer of fiction and nonfiction, novels and picture books, prose and poetry. She finds inspiration in her family, her childhood, the natural world, math, science, and just about everywhere she looks. 

Welcome to the Sporty Girl Book Blog, Rajani. We're so glad you could join us. Your main character plays baseball. Why baseball? Were you a baseball player growing up?

I didn't play baseball growing up, but my son played T-ball through high school ball, so I've been around a lot of baseball. I never appreciated the beauty of the game until I met my husband in college, and because of him, I grew to appreciate the pitcher vs. catcher duels, the sometimes leisurely pace, and the exciting plays on the bases.
Much Ado About Baseball combines baseball and Shakespeare. How did you come up with this idea?
I wanted to present the "other side" of the magical competition introduced in Midsummer's Mayhem, so I knew this story would involve Shakespeare and sports and math/science. I love Shakespeare's play, Much Ado About Nothing, which involves two main characters who have so much in common but can't stand each other until they get a little help from their friends. And I've always loved stories involving kids solving puzzles to save the day. So I ended up with a combination of Shakespeare, baseball, and math puzzles!

Tell us more about your main character, Trish.
When twelve-year-old Trish has to move to a new town again, she's worried about fitting in . . . especially as a girl who loves math and plays baseball. At her first summer baseball practice, she recognizes a teammate: Ben, the boy she beat in the spring's Math Puzzler Tournament. He can't stand her, and Trish knows he's going to discover her secret.
Ben hasn't played baseball in two years, and he doesn't want to play now. But once he realizes Trish is on the team, he knows he can't quit. And their team is terrible and can't manage to win a single game.

But then Trish and Ben meet a power-hitting older kid who tells them about his family's snacks that might help their team come together. And then they each find a book of mysterious math puzzles. Once they start solving the puzzles, they begin to form a tenuous friendship, and suddenly their team can't stop winning.

Then they come to a puzzle they can't solve, with disastrous consequences. Can Trish and Ben find a way to work together to find the "ultimate answer," or will they strike out when it counts the most?
What was your publication journey with this book?
This was a challenging book to write. I knew I wanted to write a companion novel to Midsummer's Mayhem, my debut. But it took me a long time to figure out how to write this narrative as dual POV, and to understand what the magical people in the book wanted. I found that writing a synopsis for the whole book really helped me figure out how everything fit together.
Do you have any favorite sporty girl reads? If not, what’s your all-time favorite read?
I love Lupe Wong Won't Dance by Donna Barba Higuera, Karen Day's No Cream Puffs and Jen Petro-Roy's Life in the Balance.

Thank you so much, Rajani! To connect with Rajani and learn more about her and her books visit her at www.RajaniLaRocca.com.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Extreme Reading = Extreme Fun! Guest Post by Ann McCallum Staats


Extreme Reading = Extreme Fun!

By Ann McCallum Staats


Surfing? Snowboarding? Formula car racing? Cave diving inside an iceberg?

When I first thought about writing a book about women in extreme sports, I’d heard about some, but not all of these sports outside the lines. Who knew that a wingsuit flyer could zip into a human-sized ‘flying squirrel’ suit in order to jump from a cliff and soar horizontally? What about highlining, balancing along a flexible cord thousands of feet above the ground? In some cases without a tether. I learned of ultrarunning, the pursuit of running 50, 100, even 200 miles or more in a race against time or other athletes. Wasn’t running a 26-mile marathon superhuman enough? The more I learned, the more fascinated I became.

 But aren’t adventure sports high risk? Despite meticulous planning and painstaking attention to safety, things could still go wrong. Why take any chances? Who are these women who practice extreme pursuits? Do they possess an unusual lack of fear, some supreme confidence perhaps, or maybe a willingness to risk all? What makes them tick?

The women I interviewed for Thrill Seekers: 15 Remarkable Women in Extreme Sports are all extreme athletes, passionate about their sports, sure, but also tapping into something more. I decided to find out what that ‘more’ was all about.

I’m average when it comes to athleticism. I’m not super coordinated, nor exceptionally strong. I grew up in Canada where skiing was our thing, but I was never much into organized sports. I did used to run—still do—but it’s at a snail’s pace and only a couple of miles. Running is simple and safe. You lace up a pair of sneakers, plug in earbuds, and go. In my case, I slow to a walk when I get to any sort of elevation. Like I said: safe. Yet …

Inspired by the contagious enthusiasm of the ladies I interviewed, I decided to do some firsthand research. I tried scuba diving first. It was pre-Covid, and I signed up for an all-in-one lesson package. I showed up, put on the gear, and initially sat on the bottom of the swimming pool. Though it was only a couple of feet to the surface and easily reachable by standing up, this was the scariest part for me. It felt wrong. It took setting aside logic to take breath after breath underwater without panicking.  It was happening, though, and so when we took it a step further and walked into the ocean from the beach, I had reached an understanding that breathing underwater was okay.  

Under the surface of the ocean, the water was clear, but it wasn’t like looking at the horizon on land. There was limited visible distance. It crossed my mind that a shark could easily come out of the murk at any time. No sharks appeared, thankfully, but we did see a stingray laying on the sandy bottom. I don’t know if the divemaster shooed it away, but it suddenly it rose up and winged its way off into deeper waters.

Okay, so scuba diving was checked off my list, albeit the beginner’s version. Next, intrigued by the idea of high-stakes racing, I signed up to do a ride-along in a Formula racecar, another of the chapters I’d covered in my book. I stepped onto the Richmond Raceway, surrounded by revving engines. I could smell the fuel and, I swear, the adrenaline. Once strapped into the seat of the racecar, the driver jockeyed from the pit to the track. He accelerated, and we were off at a breakneck speed. I do recall raising both hands from the wheel to do a rollercoaster-esque no-hands wave—but only for a second.  

Perhaps the best experience I tried, once again inspired by interviewing some truly amazing people, was skydiving. It was tandem, of course. Apparently rules dictate that you must dive strapped securely to an expert for a minimum of 25 times before going at it alone. Fine by me!

Every part of this experience was a joy. From walking on the tarmac to the plane, from cramming inside that small bird to sitting on the edge of the gaping side door, each part was a novel and exciting moment. With the wind whipping past us, my instructor—his name was Cornelius—asked me if I was ready. Then, after a one, two, three, we dropped from the plane … and kept dropping. I had little awareness of the ground, only the sense of the wind rushing past. When Cornelius deployed the parachute, the sky-level view brought a profound beauty and peace. There was one moment of doubt—Cornelius loosened the straps on my legs and shoulders, though thankfully not too much.

Once earthbound, I replayed the experience over and over. Yes, there had been an element of real risk. There were definitely things that could have gone wrong … Ultimately, though, what I felt was a heightened sense of being alive. Ah-ha, I thought, this is the “more” those extreme sports women have tapped into. More joy. More life. More appreciation. It’s a precious feeling.  



Thrill Seekers: 15 Remarkable Women in Extreme Sports (Chicago Review Press, March 2, 2021). The book covers a diverse and international collection of female extreme athletes, inspiring young people who moved past their fears to do the things they love the most. Each chapter shares a journey of challenge, grit, and ultimate determination.

If you would like to win a copy of Thrill Seekers, leave a comment below the post.

Monday, March 8, 2021

Deep Fun: A Guest Post by Middle Grade Author Joy Jones

When people hear that I started a Double Dutch team for adults - and that I’m still jumping rope as a senior…  Why they assume I’m a jump rope ninja and Double Dutch superstar.


Then when they migrate over to my Instagram page and watch me on video - they see I’m not that great.



I don’t jump to win awards or make money and even though I want to stay fit and to be able to rock a cute outfit, even that’s not my primary purpose.


I exercise because it feels good.


Too often, many young people look at organized sports, PE classes and obligatory after-school programs as torture chambers for their self-esteem. If you cant score then youre ignored. If you’re not fast, cool or athletic, you get teased, shamed or bullied.


But playing a sport doesn’t have to mean competition. Physical movement is for everybody, not just those vying for an athletic scholarship or dreaming of a pro ball career or even an A in gym class. Especially when done outside a structured environment like school and when students can pick an activity they actually like, they discover the pleasure of the game. They learn to play well rather than work out.


Competition has its place and purpose. But so does fun. Young people - old people, too - are more likely to engage in something if it sparks joy and excitement. ‘Feel good’ always beats out ‘good for you.’


We should encourage our kids to play sports, not compete. Emphasize the fun. According to one study, tweens and teens said that having fun was the number one reason they participate in sports. (Dishman et al., 2005; Biddle, Whitehead, ODonovan, & Nevill, 2005). It’s a much happier remedy than pills. Exercise comes with a double-sided blessing - it cures and prevents illness. It’s beneficial for both mental and medical health.


How can you own a body and not want to use it? Thats like having a sexy dress only to keep it on the hanger. Yet a lot of our screen-obsessed kids are letting their beautiful bodies waste away in the closet.


In high school, I tried out for basketball and volleyball and although I thought I was good, I didn’t make the teams. Yet not doing some sort of physical activity would have been unimaginable to me. Over the years, depending on interest and availability, I have done acrobatics, aerobics, swimming, African dance, swing dance, modern dance, tae kwon do, walking, jogging, yoga.



I wasn’t trying to achieve anything. I was a girl who just wanted to have fun. I may not have made those high school teams but my pursuit of physical pleasure enlarged my world in ways I’d never have anticipated. It led me to form my own adult Double Dutch team, DC Retro Jumpers. And my team was hired as cultural ambassadors, teaching Double Dutch in Russia. More recently, my adventures with Double Dutch inspired my MG book, JAYLA JUMPS IN (Albert Whitman & Co.)


Check that out - child’s play brought me good health, new friends, world travel, a book deal. I have to agree with the Oaqui sentiment: “When fun gets deep enough, it can heal the world.”


Joy Jones is a performer, playwright and the author of several books for adults and children. Her most recent are FEARLESS PUBLIC SPEAKING (Sterling Publishing), a how-to for teens, and JAYLA JUMPS IN (Albert Whitman & Co.), a middle grade novel. JAYLA JUMPS IN, which gained a Starred Review from Booklist, grew out of her experience as the founder of DC Retro Jumpers, an adult Double Dutch team. Visit her on the web at www.joyjonesOnline.com or hang out with her on Twitter: joyjones100 or her favorite, Instagram: joyjones1433.  
Support an indy bookstore and get your copy of JAYLA JUMPS IN here: https://www.eastcitybookshop.com/search/site/jayla%20jumps%20in