Football Fever

Remembering the struggles of the 2011 season, St. Louis Rams fans may already feel like Super Bowl champs thanks to the progress under Coach Fisher this season—though the nagging “what ifs?” of at least a few of those losses will not depart anytime soon. As the clock ticks down towards Super Bowl XLVII, here are a few titles sure to keep young readers entertained as they await the start of the big game.

Great books to read to young children:

T is For Touchdown by Brad Herzog with illustrations by Mark Braught

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A simple, classically designed alphabet primer that provides plenty of football basics with watercolor illustrations—from Amazing Athletes to Zebra Striped referees.

My Football Book by Gail Gibbons

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Another primer on the sport, Gail Gibbons provides simple guidance on equipment, plays, and positions. Also included is a glossary at the end.

Little Granny Quarterback by Bill Martin, Jr.  and Michael Sampson. Illustrations by Michael Chesworth martin

When Granny sees her team is in trouble, she leaps into the television, but can she lead them to victory? Find out in this funny, silly picture book from the mind of Bill Martin, Jr.

Home-Field Advantage by Justin Tuck. Illustrations by Leonardo Rodriguez

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What makes and NFL player tough enough to step on the field? Being fearless?

Maybe… Years of determination and dedication? Of course… What about growing up in a house with five older sisters? Two-time All-Pro and Super Bowl champion Justin Tuck explains how a variety of experiences as a child prepared him to be a superstar.

For independent readers to enjoy:

By My Brother’s Side, Game Day & Teammates by Tiki and Ronde Barber. Illustrations by Barry Root

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NFL stars Tiki and Ronde Barber have written multiple titles (picture & chapter books) based on their childhood experiences and the game they love. Join them as they overcome obstacles, injuries, and learn what it means to be a true team player on the road to success.

In the Pocket by Mike Leonetti. Illustrations by Chris O’Leary

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Author Mike Leonetti captures a boy’s dream to play quarterback and his love for the Baltimore Colts. Watching Johnny Unitas lead the Colts to victory in the 1958 “Greatest Game Ever Played” with his father, the young Billy is determined to achieve his own goals.

The Berenstain Bears and the Female Fullback by Stan and Jan Berenstain

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Will Bear Country ever be the same? Bertha Brown wants to play on the local football team, and as the hard-hitting fullback. Coach thinks it’s wrong, the boys think Bertha is crazy and the girls demand that Bertha should get a shot at making the team. It will make for one interesting season, that is for sure.

Chapter books:

Strong readers have no shortage of sports related titles to explore and enjoy. Football, especially, is covered by a myriad of authors who write to bring readers not only into the story, but into the game. Spotlighted here are three books by three prominent authors, but each author has many more titles to offer:

Matt Christopher—QB Blitz

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Last year Cal Kelliher was the star of his team, but this year? His teammates won’t give him the time of day… Once he fears losing his position as starting quarterback, Cal feels like everyone is against him. Can he keep his composure, his position, and his place as team leader?

Tim Green—Football Genius

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Ever feel like you know what is about to happen? Welcome to the world of Troy White. Troy can tell you every play on a football field that is about to happen. When his mom gets a job working for the Atlanta Falcons, Troy knows that he can make a difference for the team, if only he could get someone to listen… Realizing how important his skill could be to the Falcon’s season, Troy and a friend hatch a plan and get more than they ever bargained for

Mike Lupica—Million Dollar Throw

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Dad is out of work, mom has two jobs and the family still doesn’t know if they will lose their house. For Nate O’Bradie, things can’t get much worse—until they do. Then Nate has the chance of a lifetime, the chance to fix everything, by throwing just the right pass to win a million dollars during a half-time show at a New England Patriots game. Should be cinch for this natural athlete, right? Just as Nate needs it most, he feels his football talent slipping away. Can he hold it together long enough to make the most important throw of his life or will he crack under pressure?

For a different story, try Tackling Dad by Elizabeth Levy

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Cassie has all her father’s football skills and prowess, but what good is it for her as a middle schooler—she’s a girl! Once the coach convinces her to try out though, she knows she belongs on the grid-iron. If only her dad felt the same way. Cassie knows the field is where she should be, but can she convince her dad of the same?

For the non-fiction buffs:

John Madden’s Heroes of Football by John Madden with Bill Gutman

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All the football stats, facts, figures, and history you could ever want to know brought to you by one of the giants of the game.

Sports Illustrated Kids 1st and 10: Top 10 Lists of Everything in Football

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A great collection of firsts, bests, and other important lists; this is a great title to keep on-hand for random browsing or for the die-hard fan.

Pick up any of these books and many more football-related titles from your favorite Branch of the St. Louis Public Library and enjoy them before, during, or after the big game. Not a football fan? No Problem—less than three weeks until pitchers and catchers report!

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