World Cup booklist

The World Cup is a great opportunity to introduce your students to some fantastic books about football which can then be used to explore further topics. Here are a few recommended titles:

  • World Team by Tim Vyner is a picture book depicting children from around the world playing football at the exact same moment e.g. Joe in England 1pm, Zachary in Kenya 4pm, Tico in Brazil 10am. An excellent book to use for talking about children around the world and timezones. Ages 5-7.
  • Kick by Mitch Johnson is about a football-obsessed 11 year old boy who is living in Indonesia. He works in a factory where they make football boots for top-level players and dreams of becoming a superstar football player.
  • The Match by Russell Ayto is about two dedicated football fans and all of the emotions that they experience while supporting their football team. Told at times using single words and with dry humour throughout, it really captures the life of a football fan.
  • Booked by Kwame Alexander is a story told in blank verse by Nick, a football mad teenager. When he has to face real life difficulties, he turns to books for comfort.
  • Keeper by Mal Peet is an award winning novel for ages 14+. Set in South America, the book tells the story of the world’s greatest goalkeeper, El Gato, and how he was taught by the Keeper; a figure who haunts a football pitch in the rapidly declining rainforest.
  • Hope for Haiti by Jesse Joshua Watson is a picture book set in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. The story features children living in a tent city who use football to keep their hopes alive. A useful book to explore what happens after disasters and the role of sport in creating bonds. Ages 5-11
  • Walter Tull’s Scrapbook by Michaela Morgan is a fictionalised scrapbook about a professional footballer who was the first black officer in the British Army. An excellent crossover to looking at World War One.
  • Go! Go! Chichico! by Geraldine  McCaughrean is a chapter book about a Brazilian street child who is a fantastic football player . It is part of the Little Gems series by Barrington Stoke for reluctant and struggling readers and is designed to be dyslexia friendly. Aimed at ages 5–8 with a reading age of 6+,  also suited to children of 7–10, reading below level.
  • Willy the Wizard by Anthony Browne is a picture book for readers aged 5-7 which uses football to effectively explore insecurities and self-esteem. Willy meets a ghostly figure who gives him pair of football boots that turn Willy into an amazing player. But what happens when Willy forgets his boots for the big match? As always, Anthony Browne’s books have many layers and can also be used with older children.
  • Kicking a Ball by Alan Ahlberg is a poem in picture book format which follows a man from childhood to fatherhood and his relationship with football. Wonderful to read aloud. Ages 2-5.
  • Up for the Cup is a new picture book by Simon Bartram featuring a boy and his father and their passion for their local football team, Seaburn City. The book features Bartram’s trademark vivid illustrations and is interspersed with (often very humorous) information about football. A beautiful book that really captures the passion and excitement of football and its fans.
  • Girls and football. There is a series called Girls FC for ages 7-10 by Helena Pielichaty following an all-girls football team which fills a huge gap in the market. Unfortunately many titles I would like to recommend are out of print (e.g. Pass it, Polly), which is a shame but you can still buy secondhand copies on Amazon. For information about inspirational women in football, there is a biography in the Dream to Win series called  Hope Powell: A Profile about the former international footballer and manager of the England women’s football team. An excellent book to use with younger children to look at sterotypes is What Are You Playing At? by Marie-Sabine Roger. This lift-the-flap book uses photographs to debunk gender roles, e.g. a page that proclaims ‘Football is for boys’ is followed by a double spread photograph of professional women footballers.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *