Sunday, May 29, 2011

Baseball books!

Baseball season is starting strong after a historical 2010 World Series win by the Giants last year! Why not bring the park home with some great baseball books? Baseball has a lot of history and lends itself to picture books and biographies. Here are some of Cragmont's favorites that we read last November and this past week:

Casey at the Bat: A Battle of the Republic Sung in 1888 by Ernest L. Thayer and Christopher Bing. Though there are several versions of this classic poem, this is definitely my favorite. It uses old-time newspaper clippings and shows classic players in their original garb (think fantastic mustaches and baggy uniforms). 4th and 5th graders heard this version last November and many made connections to baseball today (like a little league team named the Mudville Nine). When sharing, take the time to explain the lyrical language like "melancholy" and "leather-covered sphere." And one last tip, when you get to the final page, hide the picture until you read the last line and really relish the reaction!

Take Me Out to the Ball Game by Jack Norworth and Jim Burke Again, though there are many picture book versions of this song, this is the best because it includes the whole song, starting with "Katie Casey was baseball mad, had the fever and had it bad..." and gives tons of history. Did you know that Jack Norworth wrote the famous tune on his way to a New York Giants Game? While reading/singing, take a moment to define some of the antiquated language, like "sou" and "beau." Here is an online version of the original to get you ready for the 7th inning stretch: (caution: this is a youtube link so be careful where you link after listening)

Hey Batta Batta Swing! by Sally Cook Chalk full of history that makes you say "no way!" this book is a fantastic look at the history of baseball's rules and practices. It uses old-timey slang and stories to explain the origins of the game in an approachable way. Also great for adults or the coffee table!

Roberto Clemente Pride of the Pittsburgh Pirates by Jonah Winter I shared this picture book biography with most grades this week. It tells the incredible true story of Roberto Clemente, the amazing baseball player and man who was the first Latino ever inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame. From Puerto Rico, Roberto Clemente broke records and played with a fire that was undeniable. He died tragically in 1972 while delivery supplies to Nicaragua after a devastating earthquake and was voted into the Hall of Fame only a year later due to his great spirit and baseball legacy.

Mighty Jackie The Strikeout Queen by Marissa Moss This is a wonderful picture book biography of Jackie Mitchell, the female picture who struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in an exhibition game in 1931. Cragmont first graders heard this story during Women's History Month in March and we talked a little about Title IX and the history of women in sports. Whether or not you are looking for academic connections, the action and illustrations in this title are great fun to share.

We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball by Kadir Nelson Best for older readers due to the amount of text, this oversized picture book tells the rich history of the Negro League. Nelson's realistic illustrations look so much like photographs that you will have to look twice. This is another book that is fantastic for young and old readers alike.

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