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Building resilience, confidence and determination in children can be a tricky task. With their young brains still developing the cognitive skills to understand complex social situations or navigate new challenges, the world can feel like quite a daunting place. When children struggle with these concepts, it can effect their mental health and wellbeing. Being able to ‘bounce back’ allows children to make mistakes, learn from them and keep going – a key component in positive wellbeing. We will all face challenges in our lifetime. Our outlook and our ability to overcome, reframe and roll with the punches will be what sees us through.

There are many ways we can support children to develop these skills. One, of course, is through the use of inspiring stories. Another one, which like books is front and centre of many of our childhoods, is sport and physical activity. Not only does this have excellent benefits for our wellbeing but is also a conduit for building resilience. Have you ever noticed kids at the skatepark, the way they repeat tricks over and over until they succeed – the perseverance they show is quite mesmerising to watch! It is exactly this attitude that we hope to instil in our children.

So, what if we could combine the two – what wonderfully thrilling and inspiring books are out there that show us about the greatest sporting heroes and characters who go the extra mile? We have picked a selection of stories, chosen for their focus on determination, courage, heart and perseverance in sport.

Ready Steady Mo! by Mo Farah, Kes Gray, and Marta Kissi

Age Range: EYFS

Follow Mo Farah as his runs go from strength to strength. Written alongside Kes Gray, so you know it’s going to be a funny and engaging read!

Strong Like Me by Kelechi Okafor and Michaela Dias-Hayes

Age Range: EYFS

A powerful story about a young girl determined to prove herself. It’s Sports Day and when her classmates doubt her ability, can Kamara overcome her nerves to finish the race?

Jesse Owens by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara and Anna Katharina Jansen

Age Range: KS1

A classic from the Little People Big Dreams series; follow the story of Jesse Owens who broke numerous world records and fought against racism at the Olympics.

Marcus Rashford by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara and Guilherme Karsten.

Age Range: KS1

Another Little People Big Dreams book, but we hope you will forgive the repetition for this important book. Read all about Marcus Rashford, a premier league footballer, and his inspiring story of success and the important work he did (and still does!) to raise awareness of poverty in the UK.

A Different Kind of Freedom: A Romani Story by Richard O’Neill

Age Range: KS2

We have featured this story before, but we love it so much we couldn’t help but recommend it again! It follows the story of Lijah, who falls in love with football and must navigate his family’s traditional roots alongside his passion for the sport. The story is full of courage, family life and tackles sensitive topics around prejudice in sport.

The Fastest Boy in the World by Elizabeth Laird and Peter Bailey

Age Range: KS2

A thrilling and heart-filled story of a young boy with big dreams of being an athlete. But his life is about to take an unexpected turn when his Grandfather takes him on a trip to Addis Ababa. When his Grandfather suddenly becomes ill, the young Solomon must run to save his life, but with his village 20 miles away – will he make it?

Gold Medal Mysteries: Thief on the Track by Ellie Robinson and James Lancett

Age Range: KS2

Combining sports and detectives (what is not to love!), this adventure story will grip your class. The book follows three friends as they attempt to uncover the gold medal thief before the final race of the World Championships.





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