The next time your young gymnast is on spring or summer break, consider recommending one of these titles to keep the competitive spark alive and fuel the passion that they have for gymnastics. These are each chosen to inspire, to enthrall, and to captivate even the most reluctant reader.
For the younger set – picture books:
Nadia: The Girl Who Couldn’t Sit Still, by Karlin Gray, illustrated by Christine Davenier
An inspirational story of Nadia Comaneci, an energetic little girl who emerged from a small town in Romania to become a world-class gymnast and then win seven perfect scores in the gymnastics category at the 1976 Olympic games. This illustrated picture book captures the very essence of Nadia whose path to fame was filled determination, courage and many imperfect moments.
Curious George Gymnastics Fun, by H.A. Rey
While you’d never think that a monkey like Curious George would ever be interested in taking a gymnastic class (given that he is always swinging from trees), this is exactly what happened in this engaging book that highlights everything fun about gymnastics as well as how to practice safely. Curious George and his friends absolutely love the gymnastics class but only have access to the gym once a week. So, since they were a clever bunch, they decided to make their backyard their personal gym. What they came up with is absolutely amazing.
For Chapter Book and Young Adult readers:
Gold Medal Summer, by Donna Freitas
Donna Freitas draws from her real-life experiences as a competitive gymnast to tell a story of 13-year-old Joey Jordan who, as young gymnast, is challenged not only by the expectations of her family and coach, but also by her own passionate desire to win a gold medal. It is a story about stretching limits, bending the rules, and finally finding personal balance
Kerri Strug and the Magnificent Seven, by Kaitlin Moore
Following Kerri’s memorable vault that captured the very first team gold medal for the United States, she wrote a true story about the ‘Magnificent Seven,’ recounting how the gymnasts helped Team USA make history in 1996. It is a thrilling book that includes photos, illustrations, a glossary and a ‘story behind the story’ fact section.
Grace, Gold, and Glory: My Leap of Faith, by Gabrielle Douglas, with Michelle Burford
No one expected Gabrielle Douglas to star in the 2012 Olympics, but she managed to win the All-Around gold medal and an individual gold as well. Affectionately known as the ‘Flying Squirrel, she tells her story of perseverance and dedication to her sport against all odds.
Courage to Soar: A Body in Motion, A Life in Balance, by Simone Biles with Michelle Burford and Mary Lou Retton (Foreword)
From an early childhood living in foster care to becoming a four-time winner of the Olympic gold in Rio de Janeiro, Simone Biles tells a personal story that was filled with daily acts of courage. In her own words, she shares how she stayed focused despite the challenges she faced on daily basis. Relying on her faith and her family, she finally secured a coveted spot on the 2016 Olympic team where she competed at the highest level – and succeeded. Her years of hard work and determination are inspirational to young gymnasts everywhere.