Get your head in the game with one of these basketball-inspired chapter books for kids! Just in time for the NCAA March Madness tournament.

Free Throw by Jake Maddox

Since Derek is the tallest kid on his basketball team, his coach decides to have him play center instead of Jason. Derek thinks this is a lucky break, until Jason stops passing the ball to him.

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Last Shot by John Feinstein

When Stevie wins a writing contest for aspiring sports journalists, his prize is a press pass to the Final Four in New Orleans. While exploring the Superdome, he overhears a plot to throw the championship game. With the help of fellow contest winner Susan Carol, Stevie has just 48 hours to figure out who is blackmailing one of the star players… and why.

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Travel Team by Mike Lupica

Twelve-year-old Danny Walker may be the smallest kid on the basketball court — but don’t tell him that. Because no one plays with more heart or court sense. But none of that matters when he is cut from his local travel team, the very same team his father led to national prominence as a boy. Danny’s father, still smarting from his own troubles, knows Danny isn’t the only kid who was cut for the wrong reason, and together, this washed-up former player and a bunch of never-say-die kids prove that the heart simply cannot be measured.

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Ball Don’t Lie by Matt de la Peña

Sticky is a beat-around-the-head foster kid with nowhere to call home but the street, and an outer shell so tough that no one will take him in. He started out life so far behind the pack that the finish line seems nearly unreachable. He’s a white boy living and playing in a world where he doesn’t seem to belong.

But Sticky can ball. And basketball might just be his ticket out… if he can only realize that he doesn’t have to be the person everyone else expects him to be.

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Hoop Hustle by Jake Maddox

Brian Worth Jr. is excited to try out for his middle school’s basketball team. His hoop dreams are in jeopardy, though, after his dad forces him to volunteer at the local senior center. But Brian really needs to practice — he’s always relied on his height to dominate, but that won’t cut it anymore. When Brian discovers that George, a man at the center, used to play basketball, this is his chance to learn some moves. Brian’s working hard and even making a new friend, but will his improved skills be enough to impress the coach and make varsity?

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The Rhythm Boys of Omaha Central: High School Basketball at the ’68 Racial Divide by Steve Marantz

In 1968, the Omaha Central High School basketball team made history with its first all-black starting lineup. Their nickname, the Rhythm Boys, captured who they were and what they did on the court; they were a shoo-in to win the state championship. But in early March, segregationist George Wallace, in a third-party presidential bid, made a campaign stop in Omaha. By the time he left town, the city teetered on the edge of racial violence. So began the Nebraska state high school basketball tournament the next day. The drama of civil rights in 1968 plays out in this riveting social history of sports, politics, race, and popular culture in the American heartland.

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Dust Bowl Girls: The Inspiring Story of the Team That Barnstormed Its Way to Basketball Glory by Lydia Reeder

At the height of the Great Depression, Sam Babb, the charismatic basketball coach of tiny Oklahoma Presbyterian College, wanted a reason to have hope. Traveling from farm to farm, he recruited talented, hardworking young women and offered them a chance at a better life: a free college education if they would come play for his basketball team, the Cardinals. Despite their fears of leaving home and the sacrifices faced by their families, the women followed Babb and his dream. He shaped the Cardinals into a formidable team, and something extraordinary began to happen: with passion for the sport and heartfelt loyalty to one another and their coach, they won every game.

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The Wizenard Series: Training Camp by Kobe Bryant and Wesley King

From the mind of basketball legend and Academy Award–winning storyteller Kobe Bryant comes this radically original portrait of five young basketball players, one enlightening coach, and the awesome transformative power of the game. Filled with insights about the mental stamina and emotional clarity that peak performance requires, this is an indispensable story for young athletes, coaches, educators, and anyone interested in the astonishing potential of team sports to unlock individual growth.

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After the Shot Drops by Randy Ribay

Bunny and Nasir have been best friends forever, but when Bunny accepts an athletic scholarship across town, Nasir feels betrayed. While Bunny tries to fit in with his new, privileged peers, Nasir spends more time with his cousin, Wallace, who is being evicted. Nasir can’t help but wonder why the neighborhood is falling over itself to help Bunny when Wallace is in trouble.

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Full Court Dreams by Jake Maddox

Last year, Annie didn’t make the basketball team. But this year there s a new coach, and Annie’s been practicing her heart out. Annie is determined to make the team this year, and she isn’t going to let anything stand in her way!

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The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

“With a bolt of lightning on my kicks . . .The court is SIZZLING. My sweat is DRIZZLING. Stop all that quivering. Cuz tonight I’m delivering,” announces dread-locked, 12-year old Josh Bell. He and his twin brother Jordan are awesome on the court. But Josh has more than basketball in his blood, he’s got mad beats, too, that tell his family’s story in verse, in this fast and furious middle grade novel of family and brotherhood. Josh and Jordan must come to grips with growing up on and off the court to realize breaking the rules comes at a terrible price, as their story’s heart-stopping climax proves a game-changer for the entire family.

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Who Was Kobe Bryant? by Ellen Labrecque

Kobe Bryant was just an eighteen-year-old high-school basketball player when he decided to enter the National Basketball Association’s draft. Though he was the thirteenth overall pick by the Charlotte Hornets, he would never play a single game for them. Instead, Kobe was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, where he would spend his entire twenty-season career, winning five championships and numerous awards.

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Nikki on the Line by Barbara Carroll Roberts

Thirteen-year-old Nikki Doyle’s dreams of becoming a basketball great feel within reach when she’s selected to play on an elite-level club team. But in a league with taller, stronger, and faster girls, Nikki suddenly isn’t the best point guard. In fact, she’s no longer a point guard at all, which leaves her struggling to figure out who she is and how she fits in.

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The Perfect Shot by Elaine Marie Alphin

Someone murdered Brian’s girfriend, Amanda. The police think it was her father. Brian isn’t so sure. But everyone he knows is telling him to move on, get over it, focus on the present. Focus on basketball. Focus on hitting the perfect shot. Brian hopes that the system will work for Amanda and her father. An innocent man couldn’t be wrongly convicted, could he?

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Here to Stay by Sara Farizan

Bijan Majidi gets good grades, reads comics, hangs out with his best friend, and secretly crushes on one of the most popular girls in his school. When he’s called off the varsity bench and makes the winning basket in a playoff game, everything changes in an instant. But not everyone is happy that Bijan is the man of the hour: an anonymous cyberbully sends the entire school a picture of Bijan photoshopped to look like a terrorist. All Bijan wants is to pretend it never happened and move on, but the incident isn’t so easily erased. Though many of his classmates rally behind him, Bijan’s finding out it’s not always easy to tell your enemies from your friends…

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