HOW TO COACH GIRLS + Picture Books about Girls in Sports

Did you know that about 70% of kids quit sports by age 13? Even more startling is the fact that girls drop out of sports at six times the rate of boys. Enter How to Coach Girls (©2018) by Mia Wenjen and Alison Foley, a comprehensive guide to help parents and coaches motivate girls to thrive in the world of organized sports.

How to Coach Girls is the brainchild of Mia Wenjen, mother of two daughters and creator of the popular parenting and education blog PragmaticMom, and Alison Foley, Head Coach of Women’s Soccer at Boston College. Throughout its 22 chapters, the book covers a wealth of topics including building confidence, promoting a growth mindset, team chemistry, cliques, body image, and much more.

The book focuses on a ‘whole child’ approach to coaching, exploring the idea that girls, more so than boys, value an emotional connection with their coach and teammates. To foster a nurturing environment where players feel safe enough to take chances, coaches need to view each player as a whole person, not just an athlete.

The book also features a section devoted to pre-season planning, including helpful guides for creating a Player Code of Conduct, as well as a Parent Code of Conduct, the latter of which stresses the importance of demonstrating good sportsmanship on the sidelines and allowing players to just have fun.

So much of this book resonated with me. I played volleyball and tennis in my youth and I remember feeling my interest in playing wane in my teen years. Now, at age 30, I wonder if lack of support from my coaches fueled my desire to quit sports prematurely.

As the mother of two girls, I am so grateful for this amazing resource. We as caregivers must never stop evolving, and the insight that this book has to offer will surely benefit any parent or coach of young women.

Keep reading to the end of this post for a list of picture books about girls in sports!

How to Coach Girls is an invaluable tool for coaches and parents! To learn more, please check out the How To Coach Girls website, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Be sure to check out the other stops on the How To Coach Girls Official Blog Tour!

Wise Owl Factory – March 1
The Conscious Kid – March 2
Jump Into a Book – March 3
Books My Kids Read – March 4
Ms Yingling Reads – March 5
Youth Literature Reviews – March 6
All Done Monkey – March 7
Miss Panda Chinese – March 8
Biracial Bookworms – March 9
Mom of All Capes – March 10
Franticmommy – March 11
Randomly Reading – March 12
Here Wee Read – March 13
Dawn Davis – March 14
The Pragmatic Parent – March 15

And now without further ado, here are eight of my favorite picture books about girls in sports, all of which are sure to motivate young athletes to achieve their goals!

The Golden Girls of Rio by Nikkolas Smith

This inspirational, beautifully illustrated book tells the stories of some of the amazing young female athletes who dominated the 2016 summer Olympic Games, including decorated gymnast Simone Biles; record-breaking swimmer Katie Ledecky; Simone Manuel, the first African-American woman to win an individual gold medal in swimming; and Michelle Carter, the first American woman to win Olympic gold in shot put.

The Quickest Kid in Clarksville by Pat Zietlow Miller

Even wearing her old, worn out sneakers, Alta is the quickest kid is Clarksville. She can’t wait to see her idol, Olympic medalist Wilma Rudolph, riding in a big parade through town. But when a new girl with shiny new shoes challenges Alta to a race, she worries that she isn’t the fastest kid after all. An author’s note gives historical context to the story by detailing many of Wilma Rudolph’s athletic achievements, as well as her role in integrating the city of Clarksville, Tennessee.

Players in Pigtails by Shana Corey

This book is the fictional story of Katie Casey, the girl featured in the popular song, “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” Katie struggles with knitting, baking, and other typical “girl” activities of her era, but she lives and breathes all things baseball. Katie represents many real girls in the 1940s who shared a love of America’s pastime. This book features colorful, kid-friendly illustrations and plenty of girl power!

Nadia: The Girl Who Couldn’t Sit Still by Karlin Gray and Christine Davenier

This charming picture book chronicles the childhood and Olympic career of legendary Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci. I love that the author describes Nadia as a girl who “loved soccer, swimming, playing with dolls, and climbing trees.”

Martina & Chrissie: The Greatest Rivalry in the History of Sports by Phil Bildner

This dual biography chronicles the decades-long rivalry between tennis greats Martina Navratilova and Chris (Chrissie) Evert. In this inspiring story that highlights the importance of sportsmanship, readers will get an interesting glimpse into the relationship between these two world-class athletes who, despite being competitors from very different backgrounds, became lifelong friends.

Women in Sports: 50 Fearless Athletes Who Played to Win by Rachel Ignotofsky

This inspiring book features mini-biographies of 50 trailblazing female athletes. The athletic achievements showcased in this book span more than a century, and include many lesser-known athletes, as well as prominent figures like Billie Jean King, Kristi Yamaguchi, Serena Williams, Lindsey Vonn, and Simone Biles.

America’s Champion Swimmer: Gertrude Ederle by David A. Adler and Terry Widener

Before the age of 20, Gertrude Ederle had won three Olympic medals and set multiple world records. In the year 1925, she set out to do something that many people at the time thought impossible: be the first woman to swim the English Channel. This book tells the story of Gertrude’s record-breaking swim, and how her courage was an inspiration to female athletes across America.

The Highest Number in the World by Roy MacGregor and Genevieve Després.

Nine-year-old Gabriella (Gabe for short) is chosen for the best hockey team in town and is desperate to wear “lucky” number 22, in honor of her idol Hayley Wickenheiser. When Gabe is given the number 9 instead she is so disappointed that she almost quits, until her grandmother shares a story that makes Gabe understand how special her new number really is.


  1. Pingback: HOW TO COACH GIRLS Blog Tour

  2. Thank you so much for your support of How To Coach Girls and for this great book list of picture books of girls in sports!

  3. Pingback: Blog Tour Stops for How To Coach Girls | How to Coach Girls

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