Girls Play Too: A Booklist for Kids

Updated: Aug 23, 2021

Bluebird's Top Sporty Girls in Kid's Lit

Jaz Santos vs. the World by Priscilla Mante (9+)

Olá! I'm Jasmina Santos-Campbell (but you can call me Jaz). You've probably heard of me and my football team the Bramrock Stars before. No? Well, you will soon because we're almost famous! Forming the Stars was my genius idea - you see I need to prove to Mãe (that's my mum!) that I'm a football star so she'll want to come back home. The idea was the easy part, though. Now I've got a team of seven very different girls and we need to work together, to be taken seriously as footballers.

We are the DREAM TEAM and we're going to show the world that girls CAN play football!

Buy Jaz Santos vs. the World

Princess BMX by Marie Basting (7+)

Enchanted meets BMX in this hilarious, spellbinding adventure!

Trust me, the fairy tales have it so wrong. Dingy towers and wicked step-mums are the least of my worries: it's the boredom that will kill me. Honestly, apart from the endless supply of cupcakes, being a princess is pretty rubbish. I used to think about locking myself in a tower and throwing away the key. Thank the good goblin I discovered BMX. If it wasn't for BMX, nothing would have changed...

Buy Princess BMX

Circus Maximus: Race to the Death by Annelise Gray (9+)

Circus Maximus, the greatest sporting stage of the ancient Roman world, where the best horses and charioteers compete in a race to the death, and one girl dreams of glory.

Twelve-year-old Dido dreams of becoming the first female charioteer at the great Circus Maximus but such ambitions are forbidden to girls. When her father is brutally murdered, she is forced to seek refuge with an unlikely ally and face a powerful and terrifying new enemy... the emperor Caligula.

Buy Circus Maximus: Race to the Death

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson (9+)

Astrid has always done everything with her best friend Nicole. So when Astrid falls in love with roller derby and signs up for a summer camp, she's sure Nicole will be right by her side - until Nicole signs up for ballet camp instead, with Astrid's biggest rival. So begins the hardest summer of Astrid's life, as she struggles to stay on her skates, to learn who she is without Nicole... and to find out what it takes to be a strong, tough, awesome roller girl.

Buy Roller Girl

Gloves Off by Louisa Reid (YA)

Everyone deserves a fighting chance

A page-turning and immersive YA novel in verse, telling the story of Lily who is mercilessly bullied at school and who, with her dad, turns to boxing in an attempt to fight back. A story of hope, resilience and loving yourself.

Buy Gloves Off

Splash by Charli Howard (9+)

Molly is in her final year of primary school, with secret dreams of becoming an Olympic swimmer. Having always lived in the shadow of her manipulative friend, Chloe, Molly finally has the chance to compete in a regional swimming contest and define herself on her own terms. But with the pressure of fitting in, and the sudden arrival of her mysterious mum, will she give up on her dreams for a shot at popularity? A hugely exciting debut with a classic underdog story, a wonderfully relatable protagonist, and an important message of friendship, body positivity, and celebrating who you are.

Buy Splash

The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle by Victoria Williamson (9+)

Reema runs to remember the life she left behind in Syria. Caylin runs to find what she's lost. When they discover an injured fox and her cubs hiding on their estate, the girls form a wary friendship. And they are more alike than they could have imagined: they both love to run. As Reema and Caylin learn to believe again, in themselves and in others, they find friendship, freedom and the discovery that home isn't a place, it's the people you love.

Inspired by Victoria Williamson's work with young asylum seekers.

Buy The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle

Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez (YA)

In Rosario, Argentina, Camila Hassan lives a double life. At home, she is a careful daughter, living within her mother's narrow expectations, in her rising-soccer-star brother's shadow, and under the abusive rule of her short-tempered father. On the field, she is La Furia, a powerhouse of skill and talent. When her team qualifies for the South American tournament, Camila gets the chance to see just how far those talents can take her.

Filled with heart-soaring romance, and breathless action on the pitch, Furia is the story of a girl's journey to make her life her own.

Buy Furia

No Ballet Shoes in Syria by Catherine Bruton (9+)

Aya is eleven years old and has just arrived in Britain with her mum and baby brother, seeking asylum from war in Syria. When Aya stumbles across a local ballet class, the formidable dance teacher spots her exceptional talent and believes that Aya has the potential to earn a prestigious ballet scholarship. But at the same time, Aya and her family must fight to be allowed to remain in the country, to make a home for themselves and to find Aya's father - separated from the rest of the family during the journey from Syria.

Buy No Ballet Shoes in Syria

The Race by Roy Peachey (9+)

12-year-old Lili is determined to defeat her arch rival in front of the Queen during her school’s anniversary celebrations. Adopted from China as a baby, Lili also has personal challenges to overcome, but when her training is thrown into chaos by events outside her control, she realises that she must choose between family and the race of her life. Meanwhile in 1944, Eric Liddell, hero of the 1924 Olympics, finds himself in a war zone. Separated from his family, he is getting ready to run his final race in a prison camp in China when his lifelong principles are challenged by the imprisoned children he is trying to help…

Buy The Race

Fig Swims the World by Lou Abercrombie (10+)

Fig Fitzsherbert is good at a lot of things: making lists, playing the piano, advanced mathematics. But it’s never quite enough for her high-flying mother, who every New Year’s Day sets Fig an impossible resolution. So one year, Fig decides to set her own challenge instead: she’s going to swim her way round the world. There’s just one tiny problem… Fig can’t swim.

Taking it one length at a time, Fig embarks on the adventure of a lifetime. But with her mother closing in, will she be able to keep her head above water and complete her challenge?

Buy Fig Swims the World

Break the Fall by Jennifer Iacopelli (YA)

The only thing seventeen-year-old Audrey Lee dreams about is swinging her way to Olympic glory. But none of her training prepares her for her coach being led away in handcuffs, accused by a fellow gymnast of the unthinkable. No one knows what, or who to believe and Audrey's teammates go into meltdown. The only thing Audrey can do is hope that, belief in herself and what's left of her team, will be enough for gold.

A fiercely told survivorship novel about one girl's determination to push her body to win gold at the Olympics, and the power of uniting as women to speak out.

Buy Break the Fall

Armistice Runner by Tom Palmer (8+)

Lily has lots of worries. She's struggling to compete in her fell-running races and, worse, she's losing her gran to Alzheimer's. But then she discovers her great-great-grandfather's diaries from the First World War. Could his incredible story of bravery help her reconnect with her gran and even give her the inspiration she needs to push through and win?

Buy Armistice Runner

Mina vs. the Monsoon by Rukhsanna Guidroz, illustrated by Debasmita Dasgupta (4+)

A charming story about soccer-mad Mina who tries just about any trick to stop the monsoon clouds from raining on her game. Highlighting the important role played by monsoon rains and the bond forged between a mother and her daughter.

Buy Mina vs. the Monsoon

The Other Side of Perfect by Mariko Turk (YA)

For fans of Sarah Dessen and Mary H.K. Choi, this lyrical and emotionally driven novel follows Alina, a young aspiring dancer who suffers a devastating injury and must face a world without ballet, as well as the darker side of her former dream.

Buy The Other Side of Perfect

Women in Sport by Rachel Ignotofsky

Women in Sport celebrates the success of the tough, bold and fearless women who paved the way for today's athletes. From the first woman to swim the English Channel and the highest-ranked female judoka in history, this richly illustrated book highlights the achievements and stories of fifty notable sportswomen from the 1800s to today, including trailblazers, Olympians and record-breakers in more than forty sports.

Buy Women in Sport

Rebel Girls Champions: 25 Tales of Unstoppable Athletes

win the World Cup with Megan Rapinoe, flip and tumble with Simone Biles, and land breathtaking snowboard tricks with Chloe Kim, Rebel Girls Champions celebrates the stories of 25 phenomenal women in sports all written in fairy tale form. Featuring full-page colour portraits created by female artists from all around the world.

Buy Rebel Girls Champions

For more sporty children's and YA books check out my bookshop booklist On Your Marks, Get Set, Go!


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