I adore the Olympics. Yes, there are always controversies, but I still love the concept behind the games, and I love watching these amazing athletes perform. I will say that the Summer Olympics is my favorite, but Winter is still a lot of fun to watch.
Ever since I was a child, my favorite event has been figure skating (I guess they still call it figure skating, even though they don't skate figures anymore). One of the highlights of a vacation in Colorado was visiting the World Figure Skating Museum and Hall of Fame, and I attended countless skating shows when I was young. Other than A Very Young Skater, I don't remember reading many skating-related books. If you know a young skater or skating fan, I guarantee that they would love these books:
Bunnies on Ice
This little bunny dreams of being a champion ice skater; however, she must patiently wait until conditions are just right in order to practice (obviously, training in Detroit like every other Olympic skater is not an option). Finally, the snow falls, the pond freezes, and our little heroine can practice her triple whatzits and quadruple whoozits to her heart's content. Adorable!
Gold Medal Winter
We don't have Gold Medal Winter in yet, but having reviewed this for School Library Journal, I can attest to the fact that this is a fun and moving read for tweens and teens. Like her first YA novel, Gold Medal Summer (about a competitive gymnast), Donna Freitas features a young athlete who must face obstacles in her quest for a medal. Friendships, rivalries, and the physical and emotional tolls of competing at the highest level are all things that must be dealt with; the ending is not surprising, but it's quite satisfying. Freitas features a Dominican skater, which makes this an excellent addition to YA multicultural literature. Donna Freitas's novels are terrific reads for tweens and young teens, and I hope she writes more positive sports YA novels.
The Greatest Skating Race: A World War II Story From the Netherlands
If you've watched any of the skating races, you know that the Dutch pretty much rule the track. Their skating prowess is legendary. If you want a story about real skating heroes, check out The Greatest Skating Race, based on a true story about Dutch children leading children to safety after their father has been taken prisoner by German forces. This is a lengthy and sophisticated picture book ideal for elementary school students.
Ice Skating School
Ice Skating School would be the perfect read for a child starting skating lessons. As we follow a beginner's skating class, we learn how skaters learn to glide, move forward and backward, turn, and finally jump! This is published by DK, so the pictures are crisp, clear, and add vitality to the text.
I'm a fan of Rachel Isadora's ballet books, so I was not surprised to find that Sophie Skates is just as endearing as her ballet stories. Through Sophie's story, we are introduced to proper skates care and basic skating moves. A must read for young skating fans!
Sugar and Ice
Although Gold Medal Winter is quite innocent, there is talk of crushes and kisses that some parents might prefer that their tween not read about. Sugar and Ice fits the bill nicely, then: we follow a young talented girl who must face the demands of a competitive skating life, including limited time to see friends, time spent away from family, and dealing with mean girls at the rink. It's a sweet and well-written story that will attract elementary school girls.
DK is a fabulous publishing company; I love their picture and text-rich browesable books for children and adults. Total Sports covers all 33 Olympic sports (in addition to non-Olympic sports like American football and golf), divided into themes (team sports, racket sports, combat sports, extreme sports, winter sports, etc). A history of the Summer and Winter Games is also included (this was published just before the 2012 Games). An overview of the Paralympic Games is included, which is a great touch. Tactics, equipment, scoring, history, and areas in which the sport is played are discussed. This is a great coffee table book for the entire family.
For grown ups looking for Olympics-themed nonfiction, I can recommend the following:
Book of Olympic Lists
Olympics! Lists! My kind of book. This isn't your typical "this is a list of athletes who won this sport" type of book. That information is easily attainable. However, if lists titled "Olympic Romances," "Olympic Spies," or "Unusual Injuries" as well as lists about the youngest/oldest/etc athletes lists spark your interest, this is the book for you.
How to Watch the Olympics
Although written for the 2012 Games in London, this is a fun and informative read for fans of the Summer Olympics. It's a fascinating mix of information about the history of each sport, equipment used, how scores are determined, and which country is the dominant nation for the sport (as this was written for the 2012 Olympics, this may change once 2016 rolls around, but unless something drastically happens, probably not by much). I downloaded this (from our Overdrive collection), and am having a blast reading it. We also have The Sports Rules Book and Sports: The Complete Visual Reference if you want more detailed information.
Not only is Rome 1960 one of the best Olympics books I've ever read, but it's also one of the best books about sports in general that I've read. The Rome Olympics were the first Games to enjoy extensive television coverage, which made the Games immensely popular. This was also in the thick of the civil rights movement and the Cold War, which added drama and tension to the games. It's a great gripping read, even if you're not a sports fan.
We also have many children's and adult books focused on specific sports; search the catalog for your specific sport, or start browsing the shelves at 796 and work your way down (fishermen/fisherwomen and hunters, this section includes you). The Olympics may end this weekend (*sob*), but we have plenty of books to keep you entertained until the 2016 Games in Rio.
Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library
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