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Stories of Simone Biles, Mo Farah, Jesse Owens and Wilma Rudolph among Olympic books recommended by Lizzie Hall




Bishop's Stortford College Prep School librarian Lizzie Hall writes about the magic of storytelling...

Dear Reader. With the Olympics in full swing it is great for children to read about the history of the event and its heroes.

And it's important to teach them about the spirit of the Games – sportsmanship, unity and knowing that, with perseverance, anything is possible.

Here are some Olympic reads for the summer...

Wilma Rudolph by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara and Amelia Flower

Wilma was born into a family with 22 brothers and sisters in the segregated south of the USA. She contracted polio in her early years and doctors said she would never walk again. But she persisted with treatment and recovered her strength by the age of 12.

Wilma Rudolph by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara and Amelia Flower (49465129)
Wilma Rudolph by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara and Amelia Flower (49465129)

At school, Wilma showed a talent for basketball and sprinting, earning the nickname Skeeter (mosquito) as she ran so fast. She was in college when she went to the 1960 Olympics in Rome. She not only won gold in sprint events but also broke world records.

She had beaten polio to become an Olympic champion and she is a huge inspiration to many women in sports around the world.

This moving book features stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back, including a biographical timeline with historical photos and a detailed profile of the athlete's life.

Olympig! by Victoria Jamieson

Just in time for the Olympics, this is a spirited, sporty romp about losing gracefully.

Boomer the pig has been training hard for the Animal Olympics, so when he loses his first race he shrugs it off and cheerfully moves on. One event after another, Boomer keeps losing and the frustration begins to get to him.

But even after coming last in every sport, there's no getting this Olympig down. It's just great practice for the Winter Games!

Olympig! by Victoria Jamieson (49465135)
Olympig! by Victoria Jamieson (49465135)

Cool comic book styling combines with classic picture-book heart in this encouraging and hilarious story for every kid who's ever been told "you can't win 'em all".

Olympic Sport: The Whole Muscle-Flexing Story by Glenn Murphy

Are Olympic athletes born stronger and faster than the rest of us? How do gymnasts balance on their hands? Why do hurdlers do the splits when they jump? Why do tennis rackets have strings?

From running a marathon to beating your friends at basketball and being the bendiest gymnast around, find out everything you've ever wanted to know about sports and exactly what it is that makes athletes the best at what they do.

Olympic Sport: The Whole Muscle-Flexing Story by Glenn Murphy (49465122)
Olympic Sport: The Whole Muscle-Flexing Story by Glenn Murphy (49465122)

All About the Olympic Games by Marisa Boan

This great new book will get kids excited about the Olympics while learning about the customs and traditions of the event.

The full-colour book is bursting with information to get kids ready to enjoy the Games. Historic photos and illustrations accompany brief, easy-to-read, engaging text.

Bring the excitement of the Olympics home with the bonus pages, At Home Measurement Olympic Games. Kids can participate in a series of events at home while reinforcing their maths skills. They get six cards to try events like long jump, javelin and shot putt using household items.

It also includes medal colouring pages so kids can award medals after competing in the at-home events.

All About the Olympic Games by Marisa Boan (49465126)
All About the Olympic Games by Marisa Boan (49465126)

Ready Steady Mo! by Mo Farah and Kes Gray

What are you waiting for? Warm up, do the Mobot and then...

"Run on the pavement / Run on the grass / Run in the playground / Perhaps not in class!"

The nation watched with bated breath as Mo Farah seized Olympic gold in the 10,000m and 5,000m at London 2012 – and he's been a national treasure ever since.

In this adventurous picture book, father-of-three Mo combines two lifelong passions: literacy and exercise.

The perfect book to share and read aloud, it has vibrant illustrations and a rhyming text. Follow Mo on his madcap adventures as his running skills go from strength to strength.

Ready Steady Mo! by Mo Farah and Kes Gray (49465131)
Ready Steady Mo! by Mo Farah and Kes Gray (49465131)

The Story of the Olympics by Richard Brassey

Records and reputations, champs and cheats, victors and venues – here's the lowdown on the modern Olympic Games.

From the games of ancient Greece to the 21st century and with individual tales of heroes and heroines, this is a lively, witty and entertaining guide for young readers everywhere.

As always with Richard Brassey's popular books, this is packed with comic strips, fact boxes, hilarious captions and speech bubbles, plus amazing information and entertaining insight.

The Story of the Olympics by Richard Brassey (49465133)
The Story of the Olympics by Richard Brassey (49465133)

Flying High: The Story of Gymnastics Champion Simone Biles by Michelle Meadows and Ebony Glenn

Flying High is a lyrical picture-book biography of Simone Biles, gymnastics champion and Olympic superstar.

Before she was a record-breaking gymnast competing on the world stage, Simone spent time in foster care as a young child. Nimble and boundlessly energetic, she cherished every playground and each new backyard.

When she was six, her family took shape in a different way. Her grandparents Ron and Nellie Biles adopted her and her sister Adria. Ron and Nellie became their parents.

Simone was introduced to gymnastics that same year, launching a lifelong passion fuelled by remarkable talent, sacrifice and the undying support of her family.

From her athletic early childhood to the height of her success as an Olympic champion, Flying High is the story of the world's greatest gymnast.

Flying High: The Story of Gymnastics Champion Simone Biles by Michelle Meadows and Ebony Glenn (49465137)
Flying High: The Story of Gymnastics Champion Simone Biles by Michelle Meadows and Ebony Glenn (49465137)

Jesse Owens by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara and Anna Katharina Jansen

The youngest of 10 children, Jesse Owens grew up working in the cotton fields of Alabama.

Discovered by his high school track and field coach, Jesse quickly rose to fame as an athlete.

He went on to challenge racism on the world stage at the 1936 Berlin Olympics and set world records.

Jesse Owens by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara and Anna Katharina Jansen (49465124)
Jesse Owens by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara and Anna Katharina Jansen (49465124)

Dream Big: Michael Jordan and the Pursuit of Excellence by Deloris Jordan and Barry Root

Long before he became a professional all-star basketball player, Michael Jordan had dreams of winning an Olympic gold medal. And, with dedication and perseverance, that's exactly what he did.

This heart-warming picture book, written by Michael's mother and illustrated by Barry Root, gives a rare glimpse into a sporting hero's childhood and emphasises the role that good values play in success.

Dream Big: Michael Jordan and the Pursuit of Excellence by Deloris Jordan and Barry Root (49465139)
Dream Big: Michael Jordan and the Pursuit of Excellence by Deloris Jordan and Barry Root (49465139)


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