Monday, July 25, 2016

Olympic Fever

Despite the inevitable controversies and worries over each Olympics, I am always excited when another Olympic Games is upon us. Although I enjoy the Winter Olympics very much, the Summer Olympics are my top favorite (I get bored with the endless skiing events). Track and field, swimming, gymnastics, diving, rowing, volleyball--I love all the events! In anticipation of renewed interest in the Games, we recently ordered a bunch of new Olympics-themed titles. Here are some of my favorites (or ones that I am looking forward to reading):

The Count on Me: Sports series are great for all readers, but especially reluctant readers. Each title focuses on key elements of sports (perseverance, generosity, courage, sportsmanship, and teamwork); the true stories feature famous and little-known athletes.

Ever wondered how skateboarders do tricks, how a tennis ball bounces off a racket, or how pole vaulters launch over a bar? As Faster, Higher, Smarter: Bright Ideas That Transformed Sports demonstrates, it's not just due to intense training, but also an application of  physics. Designs of wheelchairs and artificial limbs for disabled athletes are also featured, which makes this much more inclusive than other sports books.

2016 marks two major events in gymnastics history: Nadia Comaneci's perfect 10 (1976) and Team USA winning its first team gold in women's gymnastics (1996). These two milestones are celebrated in Nadia, The Girl Who Couldn't Sit Still (a picture book) and Kerri Strug and the Magnificent Seven (a nonfiction chapter book).

If the length of Faster, Higher, Smarter is too intimidating, try the Science of the Summer Olympics series. The scientific elements of swimming/diving/water sports, gymnastics, soccer/volleyball/cycling, and track and field are explained through careful explanations and examples, with a big dose of fun and clarity.

The history of the early modern Olympics can be quite bizarre, as you will find out if you read The Wildest Race Ever: The Story of the 1904 Olympic Marathon . The 1904 Games were held in St. Louis and were tied into the World's Fair, introducing most Americans to Olympic events for the first time. Being chased by a dog, stopping to eat apples, and drinking a strychnine potion (in thoughts that it would enhance performance) were all part of this crazy race. An author's note gives further information on the race; this is a terrific read aloud for elementary school students!

Winning Team/Balancing Act has been so popular that I haven't had a chance to check it out yet! Co-written by 1996 Team USA gymnast Dominique Moceanu, this naturally covers the ups and downs of life as an Olympic hopeful. I was taken with Moceanu's memoir (written for adults), so I am eager to read this one as well.

Tumbling has also been insanely popular, so this is also on my to-be-read list; this YA novel about five gymnasts competing for a spot on the Olympic team is undoubtedly full of suspense, joy, and heartbreak.

Totally CANNOT wait to read The Games: A Global History of the Olympics. This adult nonfiction overview of the history of the Olympics is something that I've been wanting for a long time; a comprehensive overview of the highlights and scandals of the Olympic Games.

These books have been/will be super popular when the Olympics get closer, so grab them now!

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library  

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