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18 Children's Books About The Olympics To Teach Your Kids The Spirit Of The Games

Break out these books to get ready for the 2021 summer games.

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With the Summer Olympics fast approaching, it's no surprise that parents across the world are talking to their kids about athletes, competition, patriotism, and of course, the real spirit of the Olympics — hope and determination. While there's plenty of talk on news outlets about what's happening in Tokyo, children's books about the Olympics can really teach your kids what the games are all about and how important they are when it comes to promoting unity and sportsmanship.

The best part about this particular list of children's books is that they're pretty broad Olympic stories. While it's time for the Summer Olympics right now, most of these can be read for the Special Olympics, the Winter Olympics, and the Paralympics. These stories range in topics, some focusing on the most spectacular athletes of Team U.S.A. (looking at you, Michael Phelps and Alice Coachman) and some focusing on the most inspiring stories of the Olympics, like the 1988 Jamaican bobsled team. Others specifically talk about the history of the Olympics and how they have become the games we know today (with plenty of traditional moments still involved) and some are just fun, kid-friendly reads that evoke the spirit of the Olympics.

It’s been a long wait for these Summer Games after they were postponed a full year because of the pandemic, but it’s finally time to get swept up in all of the excitement once again. So pick a few, have some fun reading moments to discuss, and then start your own backyard Olympic Games.

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1

An Olympic Encycolpedia

G is for Gold Medal: An Olympics Alphabet by Brad Herzog is a really fun way to talk to your kids about the Olympics. The picture book includes facts like the reasoning behind the five interlocking Olympic rings, shows off some of the most memorable wins in the Olympics, and discusses how the Olympics have changed the world.

2

One Inspirational Team’s Journey

The 1988 Winter Olympic Games were a big deal and the real heroes of those games, the Jamaican bobsled team, have their story told in Yes, I Can!: The Story of the Jamaican Bobsled Team by Devon Harris. The picture book highlights all the team had to do to even make it to the Olympics, showing off their courage and determination, and ends with their iconic competition in Canada.

3

Training For The Games

What better book about the Olympics than one written by one of the most decorated Olympians in America? In How to Train with a T.Rex and Win 8 Gold Medals by Michael Phelps, kids get to delve into the world of Phelps' training. The story uses comparisons to help explain what it was like for Phelps to train so he could win eight gold medals, including using the size of dinosaurs as examples of how much he could bench press while training. It's a really cute, fun story that will definitely have your kid thinking about what it really means to train for the Olympics.

4

A Winter Olympics Tale

A sweetly illustrated story, Snowman Paul Returns to the Winter Olympics by Yossi Lapid is also a fun way to talk to your kids about the Olympics. In the story, Snowman Paul is invited to serve as a referee at the Olympic Games, but is concerned about how being in the spotlight will affect his friendships with others. Sportsmanship, friendship, and healthy competition are all themes here that any kid can appreciate.

5

A Guide To This Summer’s Games

For a super current look at the Olympics, you can pick up A Kid's Guide to the 2020 Summer Games by Jack L. Roberts and Michael Owens. Written for kids ages 8 to 13 in mind, the book introduces all of the sports in this year's Summer Olympics — though postponed from last summer — along with some of the top athletes competing.

6

The Olympics Through History

For a historical look on how the Olympics started and how they are today, check out The Olympics: Ancient to Modern by Joe Fullman. This story covers everything from the Summer Olympics to the Winter Olympics and the Paralympics, giving kids an easy-to-read history lesson.

7

An Inspirational High Jumper

The Olympics represent a lot of things to a lot of people, but above all, they represent hope, spirit, and determination. Touch the Sky: Alice Coachman, Olympic High Jumper by Ann Malaspina is a children's book that tells the very true, very powerful story of Alice Coachman, the first African-American woman to win a gold medal, and the story of how she got to the Olympics.

8

The World’s Fastest Woman

Wilma Rudolph's story is one of triumph, of hope, and of perseverance, which means it's the perfect story to teach your kids what the Olympics are all about. In Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World's Fastest Woman by Kathleen Krull, children will get a biography, catered to their age, about the first American woman to win three gold medals in the Olympic Games.

9

Olympics At Home

For something very generic and broad, you can try Caillou: Backyard Olympics by Kim Thompson. While there's not a lot of history to learn about the Olympics in this story, it's an easy-to-read one that will help your preschooler understand even more what the Olympics are all about and how they can implement the spirit of competition and sportsmanship into their own play.

10

A Summer Olympic Explainer

Kids can learn the history of the Summer Games in What Are The Summer Olympics? by Gail Herman and Who Hq. Part of the What Was? collection of informative children’s books about real-world historical experiences, this fascinating read is filled with 16 pages worth of photos from real Olympic games and is best suited for kids from ages 8 to 12.

11

Inspiration For Aspiring Olympians

Written by Olympic gold-medalist, Laurie Hernandez, the children’s book She’s Got This tells the story of a little girl named Zoe who sees gymnasts on TV and dreams of flying high just like the women on her screen. The heartwarming story of perseverance, determination, and hard work is told with bright, fun illustrations to inspire future Olympians.

12

A Story For Underdogs

Who doesn’t love rooting for the underdog during the Olympic games? In Olympig! kids can cheer on the hard-working pig named Boomer as he makes his way through the Animal Olympics. Despite coming in last place during every event, he keeps his head held high and teaches kids all about the spirit of perseverance that is so prevalent in each Olympics.

13

Summer Games With A Beloved Character

Celebrate the start of this year’s Summer Olympics when you and your kids read Curious George and the Summer Games by Margret and H.A. Rey. Though the beloved monkey participates in his town’s summer track and field games and not the actual Olympic games, the story is a great primer for preschoolers to introduce them to the concept of an Olympics.

14

A Story Of Passion & Hope

Heading into the Summer Olympics, kids can learn more about their favorite athletes through inspirational picture books like Flying High: The Story Of Gymnastics Champion Simone Biles. Though adults may be familiar with the gold medalist’s childhood journey, this book introduces her story of passion, hope, and pursuit of her dreams to a new generation of fans.

15

A History-Making Medalist

In Unbeatable Betty by Allison Crotzer Kimmel, kids can learn all about Betty Robinson, the first female to win a gold medal in track and field at the Summer Olympics. Intended for kids ages 4 to 6, this illustrated biography tells the inspirational tale of Robinson as she worked toward this important historical achievement.

16

An Intro To The Olympics

For kids who are just starting to learn about the ins and outs of how the Olympic Games work, All About The Olympic Games by Marisa Boan is a great starting point. This informative children’s book is filled to the brim with fun facts to get your little one excited about the upcoming events. From the meaning of the Olympic Flag to explanations of the opening and closing ceremonies, there’s definitely a lot to learn.

17

Persistent Female Athletes

Chelsea Clinton’s children’s book She Persisted In Sports: American Olympians Who Changed The Game covers a wide range of phenomenal female athletes who blazed trails in multiple Olympic games. The inspiring picture book details the stories of women like Kristi Yamaguchi, Misty May-Treanor, and Margaret Ives Abbott and the unique ways each achieved her Olympic dreams.

18

Celebrating A Track & Field Legend

Once deemed the “Floating Wonder,” Jesse Owens is one of the most famous track and field Olympians — and certainly one of great historical importance. The first Black American to win four Olympic gold medals, A Picture Book of Jesse Owens dives into Owens’ story of greatness and how he battled the prejudices of his time to become a legendary Olympian.