children's books about diverse baseball players

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Children’s Books About Diverse Baseball Players

by | Apr 16, 2024 | Books about Asian Americans, Books about Black History, Books about Native Americans | 1 comment

Picture Books About Diverse Baseball Players

It’s the beginning of April and that means that baseball season is officially upon us! And here on the blog, that means it’s time to share a list of children’s books about diverse baseball players.

While baseball has been nicknamed “America’s pastime,” it has hardly been an accurate display of the diversity of the country. There are wonderful children’s book about baseball players who have broken barriers and paved the way for those on the field today.

I grew up in a baseball family. All three of my younger brothers played since the time they knew what a baseball was. Going to St. Louis Cardinals games was one of our favorite family activities, and still is to this day.

Of course I knew the story of how Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier, and my mom used baseball as a way to introduce the topic of racism and the Civil Rights movement when she was teaching my brothers.

But I didn’t know the stories of all these other people who shared the love of the game, so I am honored to bring you this list of children’s books about diverse baseball players.

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children's books about diverse baseball players
The United States vs Jackie Robinson

United States v Jackie Robinson

(Author)  (Illustrator)

This book about Jackie Robinson, the first African American major league baseball player, was a story of what happened before he broke the color barrier in baseball.

In 1944, after the military buses were declared integrated, he sat down on a seat on a military bus. He was told to move to the back, but he knew his rights and refused to move. For this event, he was brought before a court martial.

Read about his bravery and how he sat for his rights in The United States v Jackie Robinson



Glenn Burke, Game Changer: The Man Who Invented the High Five

Phil Bildner (Author)  Daniel J. O’Brien (Illustrator)

I had never heard of Glenn Burke before I picked up this book at the library, and now I want everyone to know about him. 

Glenn Burke played baseball with Dusty Baker (I was only familiar with Dusty Baker as a coach, not as a player). When Baker hit a home run during a pivotal moment of a game, Burke ran out onto the field and raised his hand for Baker to hit it – the first recorded high five. 

But off the field, Burke’s story is much deeper. Burke was gay, and the first openly gay MLB player (though his teammates knew, he did not publically announce, and his sexuality was announced in a news article). 

Burke had a difficult time dealing with the prejudice that came from being gay during the AIDS epidemic. He contracted HIV and passed of AIDS-related causes in 1995. 

I loved this book because it didn’t just end with “he invented the high five and he was the first openly gay baseball player, happily ever after, the end.” Using age-appropriate language for small children, this book reviews real life for a gay person in the 1980s. 

When talking about baseball, don’t miss this book about Glenn Burke’s story

Glenn Burke first openly gay baseball player
I am not a number

Baseball Saved Us

(Author)  (Illustrator)
In early 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 – which forced Japanese Americans into internment camps in response to Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor. 
Baseball Saved Us starts off with a short message sharing that the United States has since recognized what they did was wrong and have apologized. And then it starts the true story: 
The story revolves around a little boy named “Shorty” and his family who are confined to an internment camp. They decided to build a baseball field and recruit other families to help. 
By playing baseball together, they regained their sense of community and self-confidence. Playing baseball together saved their spirits. 

Contenders: Two Native Baseball Players, One World Series

(Author)  (Illustrator)
In 1911, The Philidelphia Athletics and the New York Giants went to the World Series. But those two teams were not just in the news for their amazing baseball skills – each team also had a player on the team who was Native American. The media, as they do, made a big deal about it. 
The Athletics’ pitcher, Charles Bender (fun fact: inventer of the “slider” pitch), and the Giants’ catcher, John Meyers, were pitted against each other by the media, who wanted a race-driven feud/rivalry story. 
This story is about how both players rose above their experiences of racism and rivalry and focused instead on their shared love of the game of baseball. 


Contenders: Two Native Baseball Players, One World Series
All Star: How Larry Doby Smashed the Color Barrier in Baseball

All Star: How Larry Doby Smashed the Color Barrier in Baseball

Audrey Vernick (Author)  Cannaday Chapman (Illustrator)

Larry Doby was signed to the American Leage team the Cleveland Indians (now the Cleveland Guardians) in 1947, less than two years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in the National League. 

This book details the kind of treatment he recieved as one of the first black baseball players in America. In simple language, the author talks about how the teammates didn’t want to warm up with him, called him names, and in general tried to make his experience miserable. 

Despite this, Larry Doby was an exceptional baseball player, and eventually was able to receive positive recognition. 

This book is a really good one to spark conversations with kids about how to treat people – both in the way we treat other people and the way we should respond if someone isn’t nice. 

Be sure to read All Star: How Larry Doby Smashed the Color Barrier in Baseball. 


Don’t forget to check your local library for these titles! If you find a book you love, be sure to order through to support a local independent bookstore of your choice.

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