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.