It's time for March Madness! Whether you play on the court or in your driveway, pick-up, or H-O-R-S-E, lace up your shoes, because here are some books that are nothing but net:
The Final Four by Paul Volponi. It's down to the final four and this book focuses on four college players playing in the semifinals. Each has a different story, a different reason for being where he is today, a different desire to win.
Pick-Up Game: A Full Day of Full Court edited by Marc Aronson and Charles R. Smith, Jr. The cage is the West 4th St Court in Manhattan. Everyone goes there to play, and each story is a different character, a different game as the day goes on. Some are on the court, some are just watching. Phenomenal work and stories here from such greats as Joseph Bruchac, Walter Dean Myers, Rita Garcia-Williams, and Adam Rapp, interspersed with photos and poems by Charles R. Smith, Jr. This novel-in-stories is more than an anthology.
Eagle Blue: A Team, a Tribe, and a High School Basketball Season in Arctic Alaska by Michael D'Ourso. The Fort Yukon Eagles live 8 miles above the arctic circle, in a village that grapples with finding a balance between modern culture and their traditional way of life. This book follows them through the 2005 basketball season, starting with early practices and ending with the state championship. Published for adults, this story about high school players will appeal to teens.
Boy21 by Matthew Quick. Finley's only escape from life is slipping on that #21 and playing basketball. Russ has just moved in. He's a former basketball phenom, but everything's been turned upside down by tragedy. He won't play ball, but still only answers to his former number--21. When the two guys meet, can their friendship help them work through their issues?
Slam! by Walter Dean Myers. The basketball court is the one place Slam feels in control of his life, where the troubles he faces off the court don't bother him. But at a new, harder, white school, where Slam doesn't fit in, will the court be enough?
Stanford Wong Flunks Big-time by Lisa Yee. Stanford has it made-- he's going to basketball camp this summer and in the fall, he'll be the first 7th grader to ever play on the A-team. But then he fails English, and basketball camp goes away as he's stuck in town and in summer school, or A-team will go away too. To make matters worse, he has to be tutored by Millicent Min, a literal genius that he can't stand. Hilariously funny, you'll also want to read the companion novels, which tell the story of the same summer, but from different points of view-- Millicent Min, Girl Genius and So Totally Emily Ebers.
Head Games by Nicole Leigh Shepard. Taylor's height is one of the things that make her an excellent ball-player, but off the court, it makes her feel like a freak, so how did she let her best friend talk her into being in a fashion show? Between that and the basketball season, when will Taylor decide which boy she likes best-- a fellow baller or the sweet on in her math class? Fans will want to read other novels in the PrettyTOUGH series, which follow different female athletes, such as Playing With the Boys.
Playing Hurt by Holly Schindler. Chelsea's on her way to a full ride to college when she falls during a game. Her basketball career is over. Not only is she physically injured, but emotionally she can't figure out who she is or where she's going now that she can't play. She spends the summer at a rehab boot camp, where she meets Clint and is torn between him and her boyfriend back home.
Taking Sides by Gary Soto. Lincoln's just moved to a new neighborhood and starting at a new school. He misses the barrio and his friends at his old school, feeling out of place in this wealthy, white suburb. When his new basketball team faces his old one, he can't decide who he's rooting for-- the team he's playing on, or the one he wishes he were still playing on.
What basketball books are your favorite?
Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support YA Reading List by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links.