It’s not always easy to choose the right book for a child, grandchild, niece or nephew. But if you do choose the right book it can have a huge impact.
I talk to more than 50,000 children a year about books. I ask them what they like to read. And many of them talk about sports books, because that’s what I write.
This is my list of sports book Christmas ideas for children based on what children say to me.
The Guinness Book of Records do football and rugby versions. Ideal for children who like facts and who might not be confident with reading long linear narratives. 6+
The Know the Game Series are short and clear books with the rules of most sports and games. Very comprehensive. Include loads of sports. Good value at £5. 7+
Charlie Merrick’s Misfits in Fouls, Friends and Football by Dave Cousins is a very accessible well-illustrated non-intimidating story about football. A little in the style of Wimpy Kid, etc. Funny too. 8+
There are lots of boys’ football series. There is only one for girls that is in print, but it’s great. Helena Pielichaty’s Girls FC series. Twelve excellent stories. 7+
The 2015 England Rugby Annual is one of the few non-fiction rugby books for children. Lots of pictures, puzzles and facts. Great for Christmas Day. Be careful not to buy it for anyone who doesn’t support England. 6+
Jessica Ennis’ autobiography – Unbelieveable – looks like it is for adults, but Ennis wanted it written for children too. A confident 10+ could read it. My daughter did and found it very inspiring. She now has Jessica Ennis posters on her walls.
Another Olympic autobiography – covering swimmning, cycling and running – is the Brownlee brothers’, Swim Bike Run: our triathlon story. Not only the story of their training and competing, but filled with training tips too. 9+
Another annual not about balls – although some might argue with that – is the Top Gear 2015 annual. Lots of kids are obsessed with cars. This is one Top Gear publication that is aimed at kids, so it is relatively safe. 7+
One Dollar Horse by Lauren St John is a great story set in the world of equestrianism. A girl and a horse. But more than your usual pony tale. St John writes animals as well – or better – than anyone. 9+
And – finally – one for next year. Loads of children love WWE wrestling. 2015 sees the first children’s wrestling novel I know of. Phil Earle’s Demolition Dad. Phil is a fine writer, so it’ll be good. 7+
Finally, it’s all very well promoting other authors’ books, but I write sports fiction too. Rugby Academy and Over the Line are the new ones.