Soccer books for World Cup fans

Are you as excited about the World Cup as I am?  My whole family loves soccer, and for the next month we're putting our lives on hold to watch the best teams in the world play the most popular sport on earth.  If you want to introduce your little one to the sport, here are some great books you can start with:

Maisy Plays Soccer By Lucy Cousins
$6.99 ∙ 32 pages ∙ Ages 3-7
Maisy is back for a rousing game of soccer with her friends! In this fun read-aloud from the Maisy First Experiences series, the spunky mouse gets ready to play her first game of soccer with friends. They divide into teams, and then it’s time to play. No matter who wins, it’s fun for everybody. Great for young soccer players who can’t wait to get on the field!

We have always been big Maisy fans ("Maisy" was the nickname we gave The Pea in utero), and the kids were thrilled to revisit their favorite childhood characters.  This book is great for the youngest kids because it captures all the excitement of a soccer game.

Rio de Janeiro: A 3D Keepsake Cityscape, Illustrated by Trisha Krauss
$8.99 ∙ 30 pages ∙ Ages 5-9
Take a trip to Rio! Visit the colorful streets of Brazil’s largest city, soon to be the home of this year’s World Cup and the 2016 Olympics. In this compact pop-up keepsake, you can visit the giant statue of Christ the Redeemer, the historic Municipal Theatre, the Carnival de Sambodromo, and more, all without leaving your armchair. With full-color illustrations, this would make a fantastic gift for those eagerly awaiting the World Cup.

Travel fans will appreciate this handy little book, and so will those looking to learn more about the city hosting many of the World Cup matches.  Kids and grownups will love the cute 3D features!

Happy Like Soccer By Maribeth Boelts, illustrated by Lauren Castillo
 $6.99 ∙ 32 pages ∙ Ages 5-9
Nothing makes Sierra happy like soccer. She loves to play, even though she has to drive far away from home for games. But nothing makes her sad like soccer, either; her aunt works on game days, and nobody is there to cheer for Sierra. This beautifully-illustrated book from award-winning author Maribeth Boelts is now available in paperback, just in time for peak soccer season.

I like this book because it features a family that's a bit different from the usual mom-dad-2 kids scenario.  It teaches kids that no matter what your family looks like, what matters is that you're bound by love. It also addresses a common situation kids face: being sad that their family can't come to watch their soccer game/dance recital/piano performance, etc...

Soccer Star By Mina Javaherbin, illustrated by Renato Alarcao
$16.99 ∙ 32 pages ∙ Ages 5-8
Paulo Marcelo Feliciano dreams of being a soccer star. But when one of his teammates breaks his wrist, will he let his younger sister Maria play alongside him? Set in a small village in Brazil, this story by the author of Goal!, explores how wonderful it can be to play soccer – just in time for the World Cup!

I had a real emotional reaction reading this book, because many of the characters are kids who are too poor to go to school (they need to work to earn money).  It serves as a good eye-opener to kids in America about how many kids around the world live, and how lucky they are to have so many opportunities in this country.

Goal! By Mina Javaherbin, illustrated by A. G. Ford
$6.99 ∙ 40 pages ∙ 6-10 years
In a dusty township in South Africa, Ajani and his friends have earned a brand-new, federation-size soccer ball. They kick. They dribble. They run. They score. These clever boys are football champions! But when a crew of bullies tries to steal their ball, will Ajani and his friends be able to beat them at their own game? This paperback edition of Mina Javaherbin’s award-winning book touches upon humor, suspense, and excitement while inviting the notion that cultures can be linked together through sport.

We've owned this beautifully illustrated book for a number of years, and the kids love reading it because it sends the message that soccer is universal.

Keeper By Mal Peet
$6.99 ∙ 240 pages ∙ Ages 10 and up
In this hauntingly compelling novel, a veteran soccer reporter interviews a World Cup-winning goalkeeper about his life. As the long night unfolds, we learn of El Gato’s humble beginnings in a small town by the edge of the jungle – and of his ghostly mentor, the Keeper. This ALA award-winning book will appeal to fans of sports and ghosts alike, and the slim paperback edition is sized just-right to carry to a game.

I read this book a number of years ago and I enjoyed it because I love a good rags-to-riches story, and becauseit provides a great insight into the mind of a champion.  The book is rated for ages 10 and up, but the kids haven't read it yet because they're a bit wary of ghost stories, so I'm holding on to it for a bit longer, until I'm sure they can handle the concept.

Disclosure: I received review copies of all books except Goal and Keeper. Product information (in italics) is provided by Candlewick Press. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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