Best football books for kids
With things hotting up for the Women's World Cup final on 7 July, it's a great time to introduce your child to these football-themed books
The Kick Off – Dan Freedman
The author of this series has worked in football with top players and teams. He's used these experiences, as well as a passion for children's literature, to write action-packed yet realistic stories about the sport.
Christiano Ronaldo: The Rise of a Winner – Michael Part
Michael Part has written a few biographies of famous footballers for children – this one follows the story of Ronaldo, from the streets of Madeira to world-class football star. Offering a great introduction to the biographical form, the books tell inspirational tales of overcoming obstacles and working hard for your dreams.
Up for the Cup – Simon Bartram
Seaburn City's star player Julio Poom religiously follows his pre-match good luck ritual – but the Cup Final looks doomed when his ritual is sabotaged. Can young fan Charlie step in and save the day? Simon Bartram's illustrations capture the essence of football perfectly in this genius book for young fans.
Maisy Plays Football – Lucy Cousins
Maisy's back! This time for a game of footy in the park with all her mates. She's pretty nifty on the ball, even managing to get past Eddie the Elephant. Lucy Cousins once again scores with stimulating illustrations which never fail to present children's lives perfectly.
Willy the Wizard – Anthony Browne
Former Children's Laureate Anthony Browne's obsession with primates is displayed in the series about Willy the chimp who, he says, is based on his childhood self. In this story, Willy is desperate to be picked for the football team, and when he's given a pair of football boots from a mysterious stranger things start to look up. Browne's trademark images along with the wonderful story about self-belief is perfect for budding football stars.
Football Star – Mina Javaherbin
Mina Javaherbin's lyrical text and illustrations tell the inspiring story of a Brazilian boy who dreams of being a football star, and the sister who steps in to help his team win a game.
Seriously Silly Supercrunchies: Cinderboy – Laurence Anholt
In this re-telling of the Cinderella story, Cinders' ugly brothers and nasty stepdad get to go to the Cup Final, while he's left behind – that is until the TV Godmother comes along and he gets invited to play. This is part of the award-winning Seriously Silly Stories series, which subverts fairy tales and provides laugh out loud moments for readers of all ages.
Girls FC 1: Do Goalkeepers Wear Tiaras? – Helena Pielichaty
Finally! Girls FC fills the gap brilliantly for the ever increasing number of football-mad girls aged 7-11 . The series is narrated by 10-year-old midfielder Jenny-Jane and charts the ups and downs of the Parrs U-11s over two seasons. Each of the books covers a different character as they face challenges, on and off the pitch.
Cool – Michael Morpurgo
This classic Michael Morpurgo story has been perfectly reviewed by Mumsnetter Roisin who says: “Great for footie fans, especially (though not exclusively) Chelsea and Zola fans. But it is fab 'literature' too; amazing writing, but not too demanding for a reluctant reader. It is also thought-provoking, and heart-wrenching at times.”
The Big Cup Collection – Rob Childs
With three fabulous football stories in each book, this series should score a hat-trick with football fans aged 10 and above. The series follows the trials of football-mad brothers Chris and Andrew Weston. In this collection, captain Chris has to deal with everything from a penalty shoot-out to a shock sending-off.
Over the Line – Tom Palmer
Over the Line is based on the real life story of Huddersfield Town player Jack Cock, who joins the Football Battalion at the start of WW1 and is soon sent to the trenches of France. To keep up the soldiers' morale, a football tournament is organised called the Flanders Cup and Jack is selected to play as a striker. A gripping story which draws on both the horrors of WW1 and the power of football.
Keeper – Mal Peet
One Mumsnetter says: “My biggest hero is Mal Peet. He cunningly disguises [his books] as football stories so teen boys will want to read them but they're about so much more”. In this case, Keeper is about a goalie, but it's also about deforestation and South America. If your DC enjoy this there are two more books in the series, Penalty and Exposure – which is a retelling of Othello through football. Who bets that Iago's a bit mean on the pitch?