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

All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys' Soccer Team

Photo of boys being rescued from a cave

On June 23, 2018, twelve young players of the Wild Boars soccer team and their coach enter a cave in northern Thailand seeking an afternoon’s adventure. But when they turn to leave, rising floodwaters block their path out. The boys are trapped! Before long, news of the missing team spreads, launching a seventeen-day rescue operation involving thousands of rescuers from around the globe. As the world sits vigil, people begin to wonder: how long can a group of ordinary kids survive in complete darkness, with no food or clean water?

Building a Dream: How the Boys of Koh Panyee Became Champions

Boys carrying planks
Illustrated by: Dow Phumiruk
Age Level: 6-9, 9-12

In Thailand’s Phang Nga Bay, atop a network of stilts, floats the village of Koh Panyee — where a group of boys loved soccer but had nowhere to practice. Where could they find space to dribble, juggle, shoot, and score? The boys looked out at the water and started gathering tools. Even while their neighbors laughed, they sawed wood, hammered nails, and tied barrels together. The team worked for weeks to build Koh Panyee’s first floating field—a place to practice, and a place to transform their community.



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!

Front Desk (Book 4): Key Player

Mia Tang kicking a soccer ball
Age Level: Middle Grade

The Women’s World Cup coming to Southern California, everyone is soccer-crazy — especially Mia Tang! The U.S. is playing China in the finals, and Mia feels like her two identities are finally coming together. Less exciting, though? The fact that her P.E. teacher wants Mia to get out of the soccer field, too — or fall short of the grade she needs to earn a spot at journalism camp. But as always, Mia Tang is ready with a plan: she’ll track down the two women’s teams, interview them, and write an A-grade article for P.E. instead!


Young boy kicking a soccer ball
Illustrated by: A.G. Ford
Age Level: Middle Grade

"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: Middle Grade

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 #1: Lola Levine Is Not Mean!

Lola Levine Is Not Mean!
Illustrated by: Angela Dominguez
Age Level: 6-9

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

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

Painting of Pele kicking a soccer ball
Illustrated by: Rudy Gutierrez
Age Level: 6-9
Language: Spanish (Bilingual Eng/Sp)

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?

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.

Yasmin the Soccer Star

Illustration of Yasmin kicking ball
Illustrated by: Hatem Aly
Age Level: 6-9

Everyone in Yasmin's gym class is excited to play soccer, except for Yasmin. She's seen the pros play, and it looks scary! When Yasmin is chosen as goalie, will she step up or back out? Courage, Yasmin!

Young Pelé: Soccer's First Star

Painting of young Pele playing soccer
Illustrated by: James Ransome
Age Level: 6-9

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.