Got sports? The Olympics does, and plenty of them. A huge multinational sports competition held every four years, this is THE sporting event of the world. Well, okay it depends on who you ask, but still, the Olympics are a pretty big deal, especially if you are an athlete.
It brings together some of the best athletes in the world to compete against each other one place. This year, the 2021 Summer Olympics will take place in Tokyo, Japan. More than 33 different sports will be featured in the 2021 Summer Olympics, resulting in 339 events. While it’s not possible to watch them all, it is fun to watch some of the featured sports.
Why not get ready to watch by reading through a book about the Olympics, the science behind the sports, and even some of the athletes that have made this event one of the biggest in the world! Take a look at some these books here to get you started:
These first few books explain the Summer Olympics. They highlight the different sports that are in the event.
1. What Are the Summer Olympics? by Gail Herman, illustrated by Stephen Marchesi (Penguin Workshop)
Back in 775 BC, athletes from all over Ancient Greece came together to compete in various games. Today, nearly three thousand years after the first Games, the Summer Olympics attract one hundred thousand top athletes from over two hundred countries. Billions of fans around the world cheer on their national teams to bring back the gold.
2. The Summer Olympics: World’s Best Athletic Competition by Matt Scheff (Lerner Books)
Explore the excitement of the Summer Olympics through stories of the greatest gold-medal moments in the history of the event, from Nadia Comaneci’s perfect 10.0 gymnastics score to barefoot marathon runner Abebe Bikila’s surprising triumph.
3. Gymnastics (Summer Olympic Sports) by M. K. Osborne (Amicus Ink)
Every four years, athletes gather to test their strength and speed against the world’s best at the Summer Olympic Games. This book presents information about the history and rules of gymnastics featured at the Olympics, including artistic, rhythmic, and trampoline.
Want to know more about some of the Olympic athletes? Check out these books:
4. She Persisted in Sports: American Olympians Who Changed the Game by Chelsea Clinton, illustrated by Alexandra Boiger (Philomel Books)
Throughout history, women have been told that they couldn’t achieve their dreams, no matter how hard they tried. Women athletes have faced their own unique set of challenges, across countless sports and levels of play. In this third She Persisted book, Chelsea Clinton introduces readers to women who have excelled in their sports because of their persistence.
5. The Story of Simone Biles: A Biography Book for New Readers by Rachelle Burk (Rockridge Press)
Simone Biles has been called the greatest gymnast of all time, winning five Olympic and 25 World Champion medals by age 22. Explore how Simone Biles went from being a kid growing up in Texas to an Olympic athlete who has won more gymnastics medals than anyone in history.
6. Yusra Mardini: Refugee Hero and Olympic Swimmer by Kelly Spence (Crabtree Publishing)
A competitive swimmer in Syria, Yusra Mardini never let go of her Olympic dream, even when civil war made it too difficult to train in her country. In 2016, she was allowed to compete in the Rio Olympics as part of a special team for refugees. This was only months after making a daring crossing of the Mediterranean Sea in a sinking boat that she helped tow to shore.
These books talk about the science behind the sports!
7. The Science Behind Swimming, Diving, and Other Water by Amanda Lanser (Capstone Press)
Behind the flips, splashes, and speed of Olympic water sports, science is at work. Gravity and centrifugal force are at work as a diver spins and flips before splashing into the water. Find out how science is involved in all your favorite water events and how athletes take science into account in their quest for the gold medal.
8. The Secret Science of Sports: The Math, Physics, and Mechanical Engineering Behind Every Grand Slam, Triple Axel, and Penalty Kick by Jennifer Swanson (Black Dog & Leventhal)
Why does a football spiral? How do some athletes jump so high? The answer is science! Every sport — from baseball to basketball, to football and soccer, to wrestling, tennis, and lacrosse — involves a bit of science, technology, engineering, and math.
9. It’s a Numbers Game! Basketball: The math behind the perfect bounce pass, the buzzer-beating bank shot, and so much more! by James Jr., foreward by Kobe Bryant (National Geographic Kids ESPN)
Why do NBA players only have 24 seconds to score a basket? What’s the geometry behind making the perfect shot? Become a basketball pro and learn all about the numbers and math behind this popular sport.
10. Olympic Games Upsets (Sports’ Wildest Upsets by Heather Rule (Lerner Sports)
At the Olympics, the best athletes in the world compete for the gold medal. No matter the event, there are sure to be surprising moments. Learn about the biggest upsets in the history of the Olympic Games!
Jennifer Swanson is the award-winning author of 45+ books for kids mostly about STEM. A self-professed science geek, she excels at taking complex facts and turning them into fun topics for kids to read. Some of her books include: Parent’s Choice Gold Award Save the Crash-test Dummies (Peachtree Publishing), Astronaut-Aquanaut: How Space Science and Sea Science Interact (NGKids). Jennifer also has a STEM podcast for kids called Solve It for Kids (www.solveitforkids.com) You can find her at www.jenniferswansonbooks.com