32 Beautiful Picture Books that Capture Sports Magic and History

32 Beautiful Picture Books that Capture Sports Magic and History

While many learned to read with the help of sports cards, books help us dig deeper. It doesn't have to be the lengthy biographies that are so big they hurt your back every time you pick them up. Plenty of great books are out there that dig into the history of baseball, basketball and other sports that aren't very long at all. They have plenty of pictures too -- beautiful pictures.

When it comes to historical sports picture books, it's not surprising that many revolve around top stars. Babe Ruth, Michael Jordan and Muhammad Ali are among those that have more than one picture book written about them.

A common theme running throughout them is how the focal characters, some of which aren't household names, overcome some sort of adversity. In some instances, it's through basic hard work and practice. In others, it's overcoming outside forces like war and circumstance.

Sounds kind of heavy for kids reading? That's part of the beauty of picture books. Good ones aren't necessarily just for the little ones. Great artwork and good storytelling aren't age specific.

Below are nearly three dozen sports pictures books that not only look at the past but they do so with beauty. Just like the writing is different in each, not all are done with the same style of art. Some aim for a realist look while others are much more abstract.

You can click on the links to learn more about each book on Amazon. Most also have previews available so that you can see and read a few pages.

Baseball Picture Books

Home Run: The Story of Babe Ruth

Home Run - The Story of Babe Ruth

The Babe & I

The Babe and I

Lou Gehrig: The Luckiest Man

Lou Gehrig The Luckiest Man

Stealing Home: Jackie Robinson Against the Odds

Stealing Home



Hank Aaron: Brave in Every Way

Hank Aaron Brave in Every Way

We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball

We Are the Ship

Players In Pigtails

Players in Pigtails

Dirt on Their Skirts: The Story of the Young Women who Won the World Championship

Dirt On Their Skirts

Mama Played Baseball

Mama Played Baseball

Barbed Wire Baseball

Barbed Wire Baseball

Baseball Saved Us

Baseball Save Us

Football Picture Books

In the Pocket: Johnny Unitas and Me

In the Pocket

Family Huddle

Family Huddle

Basketball Picture Books

Salt in His Shoes: Michael Jordan in Pursuit of a Dream

Salt In His Shoes

Dream Big: Michael Jordan and the Pursuit of Excellence

Dream Big

Hoop Genius: How a Desperate Teacher and a Rowdy Gym Class Invented Basketball

Hoop Genius

Basketball Belles: How Two Teams and One Scrappy Player Put Women's Hoops on the Map

Basketball Belles

Hockey Picture Books

Gretzky's Game

Gretzkys Game

A Hero Named Howe

Hero Named Howe

Number Four, Bobby Orr!

Number Four Bobby Orr

The Goalie Mask

Goalie Mask

The Greatest Goal

Greatest Goal

Other Sports Picture Books

Muhammad Ali: Champion of the World

Muhammad Ali Champion of the World

Muhammad Ali: The People's Champion


Racing Against the Odds: The Story of Wendell Scott, Stock Car Racing's African-American Champion

Racing Against the Odds

Jim Thorpe's Bright Path

Jim Thorpe's Bright Path

Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World's Fastest Woman

Wilma Unlimited

Pele, King of Soccer

Pele King of Soccer

Be Water, My Friend: The Early Years of Bruce Lee

Be Water My Friend

America's Champion Swimmer: Gertrude Ederle

America's Champion Swimmer

Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds: The Sammy Lee Story

Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds

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Ryan Cracknell

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Ryan is a former member of The Cardboard Connection Writing Staff.His collecting origins began with winter bike rides to the corner store, tossing a couple of quarters onto the counter and peddling home with a couple packs of O-Pee-Chee hockey in his pocket. Today, he continues to build sets, go after inserts with cool technologies, chase Montreal Expos and finish off his John Jaha master collection.

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