Books to Teach Sportsmanship

Field Day is next week for our kids, so we are revisiting a few favorites to discuss sportsmanship! No one likes losing, but unfortunately, it is a reality of life and therefore it’s extremely important for children to learn how to be both respectful losers and humble winners.

This collection of books is perfect for opening up conversations about giving your best effort, supporting your teammates, winning with grace, and losing honorably.

What are your best tips for teaching sportsmanship? Have you used any of the books pictured here?

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I Really Want to Win by Simon Philip; illustrated by Lucia Gaggiotti

In this humorous book packed with kid appeal, a confident young girl plans how she will celebrate winning her school’s Sports Day. When she trips at the finish line of a race and proceeds to lose each subsequent competition, however, she grows angrier and angrier until her friend advises her to simply find joy in the things she loves. It is only when the girl focuses on her interests, that she truly finds success.

With its positive message about healthy competition combined with colorful, energetic illustrations and lively rhymes, this book is, in fact, a real winner!

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Evie’s Field Day: More Than One Way to Win by Claire Annette Noland; illustrated by Alicia Teba

Evie was used to winning, so she was looking forward to defeating her competition on Field Day. She watched in dismay, however, as event after event led to another classmate’s victory. As the best jumper, she excitedly began the sack race where she knew she could at least win one contest. When a bird fell out of its nest right in front of her, though, she realized helping others was more important than winning. This story is further enhanced with talking points and recommendations on exhibiting good sportsmanship. 

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The Legend of Ninja Cowboy Bear by David Bruins

When three best friends, a ninja, a cowboy, and a bear, begin arguing who is the best, they participate in a variety of competitions. They ultimately discover that each has their own strength allowing them to realize their unique traits should be celebrated and not challenged. This engaging story also invites readers to play an alternate version of rock, scissors, paper using the book characters instead.

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Number One Sam by Greg Pizzoli

Readers follow Sam as he bears the disappointment of losing a big race, but learns to focus on trying his best and having fun. Most importantly, children will feel comforted in knowing they will still be loved and accepted even if they don’t always win.

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Fancy Nancy and the Mean Girl by Jane O’Connor

Our family loves Fancy Nancy, so we were thrilled to find this Easy Reader focusing on sportsmanship. As a nonathlete, Nancy dreads field day. When she over hears another girl complaining that her team will lose because of Nancy’s slow legs, she fakes an injury to avoid running the next day. Her parents notice and help her work through her hurt feelings. The next day she confronts the girl stating, “I will run as fast as I can. But if we lose, don’t say mean stuff. You are a good runner. But you are not a good sport.” Nancy’s maturity pays off, as the girl treats her with kindness after they lose the race.

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 Mama Lion Wins the Race by Jon J. Muth

This imaginative tale follows a group of stuffed animals through a whimsical car race. Eye-catching watercolors capture the racers as they zoom through a beautiful countryside. While there are a few comical antics, acts of kindness help the racers realize that winning friends can be even sweeter than obtaining a trophy.

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