8 Great Books Celebrating Women in Sport

July 2023
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Stock image of football on playing field

The Women’s World Cup starts today, and we’ll be cheering the girls in green on every step of the way!

These eight books show women and girls excelling across the world of sport, from soccer to basketball, Gaelic football and karate. Vibrant illustrations and empowering stories challenge gender stereotypes, encourage teamwork and celebrate the achievements of all women in sports.

With each page, young readers are inspired to dream big, both on and off the pitch.

Rita agus an Ninja le Myra Zepf agus Mr. Ando

Rita agus an Ninja

Le Máire Zepf, maisithe ag Andrew Whitson

An tSnáthaid Mhór 2019 (BOG) €14.00 ISBN 9781912929047

Is cailín beag cliste, cineálta, diongbháilte í Rita. Sa leabhar seo cuirtear as go mór di nuair a aimsíonn a deartháir beag í gan stró agus iad ag imirt folach bíog agus socraíonn sí láithreach bonn go bhfuil ninja-mháistir ag teastáil uaithi chun taispeáint di ní hamháin conas dul i bhfolach i gceart. Níl ár ndóthain eiseamláirí de chailíní cróga ach cineálta le feiceáil sna leabhair Ghaeilge, ach is eiseamláir do-chreidte í Rita, ag taispeáint dúinn ar fad gur féidir léise tabhairt faoi rud ar bith rm haith léi, na healaíona comhraic san áireamh – agus más féidir le Rita, is féidir leatsa freisin. (Aois 2–4)

Karate Kids, written and illustrated by Holly Stirling

Karate Kids

Holly Sterling

Walker Books 2020 (PBK) £6.99 ISBN 9781406386233

Athlete Holly Sterling’s informative picturebook is a wonderful introduction to the world of karate, full of fundamenta lingo, made accessible through Sterling’s clear descriptions and straight-forward language. Not only does karate improve fitness and flexibility ‘but it also teaches confidence, mindfulness, compassion and respect’. The story of Maya who takes a beginner class in the dojo fully embodies this message as she and her fellow karate enthusiasts support each other along their journey – a journey that includes plenty of fun and wobbles and bumps along the way! The illustrations are kind and a warm addition to the gentle narrative. (Age 4+)

Little People, Big Dreams: Megan Rapinoe

Little People, Big Dreams: Megan Rapinoe

Written by Maria Isabel Sánchez Vegara, illustrated by Paulina Morgan

Frances Lincoln Children’s Books 2021 (HBK) £9.99 ISBN 9780711257818

Little Megan realised at a young age that she had a gift when it came to soccer. While she did not always feel that she fitted in at school, she knew she belonged on the soccer pitch. In fact, she was a star – her skill and talent led her, as captain, to becoming an Olympic gold medallist, a two-time Women’s World Cup champion and a Golden Boot winner! An advocate for women’s sports and gender equality, she is also an outspoken LGBTQ+ advocate. A biography of Billie Jean King is also available as part of this series. (Age 5–8)

Girls Play Too

Girls Play Too: Inspiring Stories of Irish Sportswomen

Written by Jaqui Hurley, illustrated by Rachel Corcoran, Sinead Colleran, Jennifer Farley, Jennifer Murphy and Lauren O’Neill

Irish Academic Press 2023 (PBK) €9.99 ISBN 9781785374661

An ode to the heroes who ‘wear football boots, boxing gloves and mouth guards’, Girls Play Too is a much welcome addition to sports literature with its focus on all the too-often-forgotten female athletes of Ireland. Through twenty-five in-depth portraits of Irish sportswomen, author Jacqui Hurley tips the scale and showcases inspiring stories bound to empower young readers. Highly recommended to all readers as a non-fiction addition undoubtedly likely to inspire new hobbies, role models and aspirations in all its readers. (Age 8+)

The Dog that Saved the World (Cup) cover

The Dog That Saved The World (Cup)

Written by Phil Earle, illustrated by Elisa Paganelli

Barrington Stoke 2021 (PBK) £7.99 ISBN 9781781129685

Ellie and her best friend, Pickles the dog, love playing football more than anything in the world. Times are tough at home and when they hear that the World Cup is coming to England, they can’t believe their luck. Better yet, Ellie might even get to play in the half time match! When the World Cup trophy goes missing, it’s up to Pickles to save the day – and his best friend’s dream of playing in Wembley. From publisher Barrington Stoke, this book comes in an accessible format, sure to build confidence and empower young readers. (Age 8+)

Cliona agus an Cluiche Peile

Clíona agus an Cluiche Peile

le hÚna Leavy, maisithe ag Kieron Black

An Gúm 2021 (BOG) €7 ISBN 9781857919769

Leabhar gairid simplí é seo. Cailín í Clíona atá an-ghafa leis an bpeil, agus níl spéis dá laghad aici sa bhfaisean, ach go háirithe sna bróga nach bróga peile iad! Scéal é seo ar thábhacht an mhisnigh agus na dílseachta. Pléann an scéal freisin leis na coimhlintí atá ann, fiú le tuistí tuisceanacha, nuair nach spéis le cailíní na nithe ‘gur chóir’ dóibh, sé sin, an siopadóireacht agus cúrsaí faisin. D’fhéadfadh an ghné seo den scéal bheith píosa beag níos forbartha, ach is túsphointe é chun nithe a phlé. Agus is deas agus is tábhachtach an rud é daoiní de dhath a fheiceáil sna léaráidí. (Aois 8–10)

Twin Power: Throw In

Twin Power: Throw In!

Written by Emma Larkin, cover illustration by Lauren O’Neill

The O’Brien Press 2023 (PBK) €8.99 ISBN 9781788494304

Twins Aoife and Aidan love playing Gaelic football; when they’re on the pitch, their skills combine in an unstoppable, goal-scoring force. But something is keeping Aoife from playing with the local club in Droichead Beag, something that happened during a match two years ago, that she won’t tell to anyone. When a new ‘Star Schools GAA’ competition is announced in the parish, will Aoife be able to face her fears and help Droichead Beag bring home the cup? The first in the Twin Power series, the latest of which (Twin Power: The Lost Cup) came out this year, these books contribute brilliantly to the visibility of girls in Gaelic games. (Age 10+)

Women in Sport

Women In Sport: 50 Fearless Athletes Who Played To Win

Rachel Ignotofsky

Wren & Rook 2018 (HBK) £12.99 ISBN 9781526360922

This follow-up to Ignotofsky’s extraordinary book about women in science introduces young readers to over a century of women in sport. From women who competed in male events to record-breaking swimmers, from referees to coaches, and from famous names to lesser-known sporting heroines, Ignotofsky does not shirk from the difficulties these women faced to become the best. A fascinating book that reminds girls how powerful and capable women can be in the face of adversity, across all sporting genres. Packed with Ignotofsky’s notable portraits, remarkable facts and inspiring quotes, this is a must-have for any bold girl. (Age 10+)

Find more inspiring stories of inspiring women in our BOLD GIRLS Reading Guide, produced with KPMG in 2018 to mark the centenary of women’s suffrage in Ireland.

BOLD GIRLS is free to download at the link below!