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{Project 101} Weekly Library Challenge: Play Ball! (Baseball, Fetch and Sports Writing We Love)

Caterpillar and Wild Thing love baseball. I'm not really sure how that love came to be as my husband and I like baseball, but are not huge fans and, since we don't have TV service, we don't watch baseball games. I have a sneaking suspicion that it has something to do with The Sandlot, our favorite family movie. Whatever the reason, they love to play baseball -- often even just pretend baseball with no bats or balls at all. For Caterpillar, actually it seems to be any sport with a ball in general. He's happy playing catch, basketball, baseball and so much more. Wild Thing, too, is expanding and starting to get into bowling, tennis and golf. I love that these interests keep them naturally active and are ways to nurture motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Plus, finding fun sports books for them encourages a love and excitement about reading. Hence, here we are with a (belated) Project 101: Weekly Library Challenge post with some of our favorite sport-ish books that they love from the library and a sport book that I just finished reading. (A head cold has thrown me behind schedule, so excuse the delay this week). 

Little Baseball is a cute board book that has riddles about different elements of baseball. Wild Thing can now understand the riddles and get the answers. Caterpillar loves seeing the baseballs, bats, gloves, and hats. We've checked this book out from the library quite a few times lately, and it worked very well this past week with the Letter B focus we had as baseball offers lots of opportunities to learn about "b" beyond baseball: bat, bench, scoreboard, etc. (You can check out everything we did with the Letter A here.)

I'm breaking my rule and sharing a second book this week that we've been loving from the library because it is a brilliant book with a cute story, even though the book itself only uses one word: Ball! The book, Ball by Mary Sullivan, features a dog who loves to play fetch. His playmate plays with him, then has to go to school. While she is at school, he goes throughout the house frantically looking for anyone to play with him. Finally, he falls asleep and has some funny dreams about elaborate games of fetch. In the end, his playmate returns from  home again to play with him. The word ball is probably in the book at least 20 times, if not more, which makes it great for an early reader like Wild Thing.

After just one reading of the book, Wild Thing could recognize and read the word ball. What really blew me away was that on our way home from school one day, I spelled the word ball and he knew immediately what word it was, even though he didn't see it at all, I just said b-a-l-l to him. I love when a book is fun and educational all at once. I thought it would be appropriate to give you a sneak peek from Letter B week with our simple B is for Ball basket. Tomorrow, I'll share all of the other baskets we made to explore the Letter B and related activities we did for Tot School and Pre-K fun.

If you have a child that also loves sports and/or baseball, I also recommend Hit The Ball, Duck! by Jez Alborough. We loved the book and did several fun activities with it, including exploring a simple sensory/storytelling bin

Finally, the book I read this past week really surprised me in terms of how much I liked it and how much I learned from it. I read The Best American Sports Writing 2012 edited by Michael Wilbon, who co-hosts Pardon the Interruption on ESPN and is a highly respected sports journalist. It is part of The Best American Series, edited by Glenn Stout, also includes: The Best American Comics, Essays, Mystery Stories, Nonrequired Reading, Science and Nature Writing, Short Stories and Travel Writing. 

I played basketball in high school and enjoy sports. However, what surprised me most about the book and what made me really appreciate and enjoy it so much is the way the pieces selected expand beyond sports, which was Michael Wilbon's goal and what he sees as the value of what great sports writing -- its ability to show how a sports story "relates to the issues of the real world." This is what surprised me the most about the book and made it so engaging. Ranging from a story of a "good old boy" young protege baseball player to brain trauma in young hockey and football players to Allen Iverson playing basketball in Turkey and Stephon Marbury in China to the complexity of the large sums of money the NCAA and colleges are bringing in through college sports and the players who struggle to afford bus tickets home or get cut and lose their scholarship and cannot complete their educations to the fascinating origin of the High-Five, the book gave me much to think about, brought issues to my attention I was not aware of and that I am glad to now know about and gave me greater empathy and compassion for athletes in general. 

Particularly as a mother of two boys that, for now anyway, love sports, I truly appreciated these in depth pieces about various issues in sports and the way they connect to our values and society in general. The brain trauma issue, itself, gives me a lot of pause as my boys grow up and potentially ask to play football or hockey. It is a tricky balance to encourage and nurture your child's interest yet also be aware of very real safety concerns. For now, I will enjoy throwing their plastic balls to them to hit with their plastic bats and join in when Wild Thing creates a bowling alley using my yoga mat, some toilet paper rolls and small practice golf balls. And, I'll keep reading. 

Are you a sports fan? Did you play sports growing up or do you have children who play sports? What larger real world issues and values do you feel sports connects to? How do you balance your child's interests and dreams with your concerns for their well-being? As my sons get older, I know it will only get more and more complicated. 

Sharing at: Montessori Monday, Tuesday Tots, Mom's Library and It's Playtime!

More from Project 101: Weekly Library Challenge
Preschool Books
Travel Books for Kids
Book + Literacy Activities


  1. Looking forward to checking out "Ball," especially with my ball-loving toddler. While I adored "Sandlot" growing up- including full night sleep-over marathons watching it over & over- we've yet to watch it as a family. Definitely changing that soon!


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