Time for Soccer!

As the World Cup approaches, it's a great time for stories about the "beautiful game" of soccer, recognized as a universal language across cultures. These stories celebrate the excitement of the game, as well as the spirit of champions — whether it's as Pelé scores his 1,000th goal or a young boy in a wheelchair takes to the soccer field with his friends. For more great titles, see this kids' booklist from School Library Journal.

Alicia's Fruity Drinks

Illustrated by: Laura Lacamara
Age Level: 6-9

"The fruit- blended juice drinks known as aguas frescas offered at a fair inspire a little girl and her mother to serve their own version after a soccer practice. The dual English/ Spanish text is augmented by summery scenes in opaque, rich colors. The simplicity of the suggested idea that homemade fruit juice will always be fun to make and delicious to drink is appealing." — KIRKUS Reviews


At his new school, everyone asks Tomasito why he is in a wheelchair. His father gives him a new pet to make him smile, but this bird is a little bit different too. Can Tomasito's featherless friend teach him that he doesn't have to stay on the sidelines — and that there's more than one way to fly? Related classroom activities available from Children's Book Press.

For the Love of Soccer!

By: Pelé
Illustrated by: Frank Morrison
Age Level: 6-9

"In first-person narration, Pelé describes his lifetime passion for the game, which began in childhood…Morrison's vibrant, energetic illustrations depict a dual story. Each two-page spread features vignettes from Pelé's career on one page (subtly aging their subject over the course of the book), while the facing page reveals a parallel story line of a modern-day child learning to love the game. The vivid pictures, featuring slightly elongated figures and tilted perspectives, convey all the energy of this universal sport." — Kirkus Reviews

Froggy Plays Soccer

Froggy is ready for the big game! He has his shin guards, soccer shirt, and cleats — but will he remember to use his feet instead of his hands? Young readers will love the sound effects that London includes in the story and will relate to the challenge of remembering all of the rules of the game!


Illustrated by: A.G. Ford
Age Level: 9-12

"This heart-tugging picture book from a debut author tells a lyrical soccer story in the voice of a young boy in a South African shantytown… In full-page oil paintings, Ford uses unusual angles to intensify the sense of the scuffling, exciting action; the tense confrontation; and the reality of shantytown life." — Gillian Engberg, Booklist

Kingfisher Soccer Encyclopedia

Age Level: 9-12

This soccer encyclopedia for kids contains a wealth of information and photos about the history of soccer, playing the game, soccer legends, strategy, and soccer competitions. A bonus section on the World Cup 2010 is included in the 2006 and 2010 editions. Young soccer fans with a thirst for soccer trivia won't be able to put this encyclopedia down!

Lola Levine Is Not Mean!

Illustrated by: Angela Dominguez
Age Level: 9-12

Lola Levine likes writing in her diario, sipping her mom's cafe con leche, eating her dad's matzo ball soup, and playing soccer with her team, the Orange Smoothies. So what if she doesn't always fit in?  Lola is fierce on the field, but when a soccer game during recess gets too competitive, she accidentally hurts her classmate Juan Gomez. Now everyone is calling her Mean Lola Levine! Lola feels terrible, but with the help of her family, her super best friend, Josh Blot, and a little "pencil power," she just might be able to turn it all around.

Madlenka Soccer Star

By: Peter Sis
Age Level: 3-6

Madlenka dreams of being a soccer star in this third book about the city-dwelling girl. She leaves home in her soccer togs playing imaginary games until she's joined by one friend and then a team full of children. A note about soccer history concludes the book.

Maya and Miguel: Soccer Around the World

When Maya and Miguel meet a professional soccer star, they learn all about how the game is played in countries around the world. Soccer fans will enjoy discovering facts about the sport with the twins. Available from Scholastic, Reader Level 3. Spanish edition out of print but may be available in libraries.

Northern Lights: The Soccer Trails

Illustrated by: Vladyana Krykorka
Age Level: 6-9

When Kataujaq's mother dies, her grandmother tells her the legend of the northern lights: the souls of the dead are engaged in a lively game of soccer, just as they did when they were living. Watching the northern lights brings comfort to Kataujaq as she thinks of her mother playing soccer in the sky. A beautiful story honoring Inuit traditions and recommended for children struggling with loss.

Pelé: King of Soccer

Illustrated by: Rudy Gutiérrez

Did you know that as a boy, Pelé played soccer in bare feet with a grapefruit instead of a soccer ball? Monica Brown shares the inspirational story of the beloved soccer star's rise from humble beginnings to becoming El rey del fútbol. Rudy Gutiérrez's brilliant and fluid illustrations of Pelé and "the beautiful game" of soccer leap off the page. Bilingual text. Curriculum guide available.

Soccer Star (Lorimer Sports Stories)

Age Level: 6-9

Product Description: Samantha Aqsarniq Keyes is used to a life on the move. Her military family has been transferred across Canada, and she has grown up with stories of her Inuit ancestors exploring the far north. For Sam, soccer has been the one constant in her life. But now that she's thirteen, her home base isn't the only thing that's changing. Sam longs to show up Carly, her school's reigning soccer star, but Sam's new interest in theatre is taking up a lot of time. Does she have the time to practice her sport and be the lead in the school play?

South Africa: Explore the World Through Soccer

Illustrated by: Shawn Braley
Age Level: 6-9

Ethan Zohn is a professional soccer player, philanthropist, and lecturer. Through his series of international Soccer World books, Zohn shares ways that soccer can be used as a "common language" across cultures. In this edition, Zohn makes his way through South Africa, and takes readers from wildlife preserves to giant soccer stadiums — just in time for the World Cup!

The Banana-Leaf Ball: How Play Can Change the World

Age Level: 6-9

Separated from his family when they were forced to flee their home, a young East African boy named Deo lives alone in the Lukole refugee camp in Tanzania. With scarce resources at the camp, bullies have formed gangs to steal what they can, and a leader named Remy has begun targeting Deo. Then one day a coach gathers all the children to play soccer. Though Deo loves soccer and has even made his own ball out of banana leaves, he's unsure at first about joining in when he sees Remy on the field. But as Deo and the other boys get drawn into the game, everything begins to change.

Winners Never Quit!

By: Mia Hamm
Illustrated by: Carol Thompson
Age Level: 3-6

Little Mia hates losing! But does she hate losing more than she loves to play soccer? Soccer star Mia Hamm and illustrator Carol Thompson share an important lesson through their charming depiction of young Mia's realization that winners never quit. Photos and highlights from Hamm's career are included.

Young Pelé: Soccer's First Star

Illustrated by: James Ransome
Age Level: 9-12

How did a poor boy named Edson — who kicked rocks down roads and dribbled balls made from rags — go on to become the greatest soccer player of all time? Here is the story of the boy who with great determination, lightning speed, and amazing skill overcame tremendous odds to become the world champion soccer star Pelé. Talented author/illustrator team Lesa Cline-Ransome and James E. Ransome bring his inspirational story vibrantly to life. The theme of this Dragonfly Book is Sports.