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Going for Olympic Gold with Children’s Books

July 27, 2012

By Karen Ruben

Oh the joy and fun of watching the Olympics! There is something about “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat” that is so captivating and emotional.

But my four- and five-year-old daughters have no idea what the Olympics are all about. They have never experienced an Olympics before and it is difficult for us to explain what is so exciting and great about it.  So we did what we always do: We looked for a book to help us out.

Here is what we liked…

G is for Gold Medal: An Olympics Alphabet by Brad Herzog

This book is nice for multiple age groups. For smaller children you can read just the four lines of rhyme on each page. They give a good feel of what the Olympics is about.

For older kids (and grown-ups) Herzog provides quite a bit of history and information on each page. My husband and I each took a turn with this book.

How to Train with a T-Rex and Win Eight Gold Medals by Michael Phelps

Ages 4-7. Phelps (with sportswriter Alan Abrahamson) describes the work and dedication involved in his accomplishments in Beijing. The illustrations and text are simple, but catchy, so my kids liked it. I like that they will know who Phelps is and will have something to relate to when we see him on TV.


Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World’s Fastest Woman by Kathleen Krull

Ages 6-9. This is an amazing story about an amazing woman. Rudolph overcame polio to compete in the 1960 Rome Olympics, where she became the first American woman to win three gold medals in a single Olympics. My four-year-old didn’t quite grasp all of the obstacles this poor, southern, black woman overcame, but she will one day – and this story, in its Olympic context, is a great place to start.

The Mud Flat Olympics by James Stevenson

On a lighter note, this chapter book is a fun and silly story of an alternative (and much less hyped) Olympic games. The creatures of the mud flats compete in events like the smelliest skunk contest and the all-snail high hurdles. My kids loved this- I could really tell when I read it for the fifth time! This is the book that most inspired them to try their own competitions in the backyard. It was silly but it got them moving.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Kate permalink
    July 28, 2012 2:16 am

    Thanks for the great links to the Olympic themed books. I was just today trying to explain to my son my excitement…. I think i’ll try one of your suggested readings! Cheers! Go Team America!

    • July 30, 2012 2:08 pm


      Thanks! Let us know how it goes – or if you find any other books that get your son excited…


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