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It is difficult to find a sports novel that will interest the girls. Not much is written in that genre for them. However, when it comes to the boys, I have found that there are definite authors the students like.
Gary Soto: He has written a book of short stories titled Baseball in April. He has also written a novel titled Taking Sides about a basketball star moving to his rival's school and having to play against his former teammates.
I agree with the person above who suggested Walter Dean Myers. He has written many good sports books mostly about basketball. Four of his novels about basketball are Slam, Hoops, Game, and The Outside Shot. His novel, Kick, is about soccer and he wrote that with a teen.
Cris Crutcher wrote short stories in his book Athletic Shorts. However, he also addresses issues like homosexuality. Depending on your comfort level and your parents, you might want to peruse the book first.
I think it is VERY important that if you have a mixed class that you find a book that will interest the girls also. You may have to do literature circles to interest all of your students. Use short stories or non-fiction to teach your lessons, and then have them apply it to a small selection of books to meet each need.
A book that might be appealing to girls is a mystery book about the Super Bowl titled Coverup by John Feinstein.
Walter Dean Myers is an excellent author for sports novels. He has several really solid choices. Also, a more recent nonfiction option is Believe by Eric LeGrand.
I think that one of the fundamental challenges here would be to find novels that would not alienate the "non- sports' student in the class. Something like Mouton's Ball Four or Lewis' Moneyball would be great reading options for students, as they bring out much within the world of sports. The challenge is that if a student is not a baseball student, these books close them out of interest. I do think that Malamud's The Natural is a great reading choice. It deals with themes such as hubris, the epic journey, as well as the tragic flaw of human beings in their desire to appropriate the world in accordance to their subjectivity. These would be great topics to study in a class of the specified age. The book is about baseball, but can come to represent so much more that its appeal would work in the heterogeneous interest class setting. Another work that could function well in this curriculum, though it is a bit on the lengthy side, would be Hillenbrand's Seabiscuit: An American Legend. While the book is about horse racing, there is an analysis of the historical time period of the 1930s that makes the book so much more powerful. The narrative of the horse and its owner, jockey, and trainer has broad applicability to the time period and what it meant in American History. I think that these two works are excellent representations of the sports literature genre, yet can appeal to students of varied backgrounds.
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