We the North – A Raptors Fan Reading List

We’ve got basketball on the brain lately now that the Toronto Raptors are in the NBA finals. Hockey might be Canada’s favourite pastime, but basketball was invented by Canadian James Naismith. If you, like us, can only think about one thing lately, read these basketball-themed books as you cheer on Canada’s team!


Hoop Genius: How a Desperate Teacher and a Rowdy Gym Class Invented Basketball, written by John Coy, illustrated by Joe Morse
Carolrhoda Books, 2013
IL: Ages 7-11  RL: Grades 2-3

James Naismith was asked to take over a rowdy gym class right before winter vacation in December of 1891. The boys were all bored with the exercises and gymnastics they’d been doing, so Naismith decided to try something new. He remembered playing Duck on a Rock as a boy and created a new game based on that. Using a soccer ball and two old peach baskets, Naismith introduced his class to his new game of basketball.


Kings of the Court, written by Alison Hughes
Orca Book Publishers, 2017
IL: Ages 9-12 RL: Grades 4-5

The Gladiators are having a bad season. When the team’s coach gets fired midseason for bullying, they haven’t won a single game and morale is at rock bottom. Sameer, scorekeeper, and Vijay, team mascot, work hard to keep the team’s spirits up, especially since the replacement coach is a Shakespeare fanatic who doesn’t know a jump shot from a fast break!


Basketballogy: Supercool Facts You Never Knew, written and illustrated by Kevin Sylvester
Annick Press, 2017
IL: Ages 9 and up RL: Grade 4

Die-hard fans and casual spectators alike will want to get their hands on this book of fascinating basketball facts. Find out about the origins of basketball, how much players are paid, the evolution of the basketball shoe and the secret for hitting a perfect shot. Lots of humorous illustrations and a fun trivia quiz make this book a slam dunk.


Bad Shot, written by Sylvia Taekema
James Lorimer, 2017
IL: Ages 10-13 RL: Grades 4-5

Twelve-year-old Cody loves basketball, but his shaky self-confidence is undermined by a much better-off player who targets him. The newbie seems to take an interest in Cody on the court, but his “helpful” hints are undermining Cody’s performance. To play better, Cody has to come to grips with the bullying, become more self-reliant and take advantage of his skills playing the sport.


Making the Team, written by Kelsey Blair
James Lorimer, 2016
IL: Ages 10-13 RL: Grades 2-3

Hannah is devastated when she doesn’t make the Grade 8 basketball team and her best friend, June, does. Worse, she and June start growing apart. How can Hannah make the team next year without playing? A new friend teaches her about goal setting and self-esteem, and helps her improve her shot at making the high school team. But it means going head-to-head with June at tryouts.


Centerville by Jeff Rud
Orca Book Publishers, 2016
IL: Ages 10-14 RL: Grade 5

Jake Burnett is attending a prestigious prep school to pursue his hoop dreams. But things aren’t as advertised at the school, and Jake finds himself struggling both on and off the court. He plays harder and ignores the warning signs until he discovers that the head coach is a scam artist, putting kids at risk for his own gain. Now Jake faces a difficult choice — advance his basketball career or do the right thing.


All Ball: Basketball’s Greatest Players, written by Jennifer Rivkin
Crabtree Publishing, 2015
IL: Ages 11 and up RL: Grades 3-4

Learn what makes an NBA or WNBA superstar, from all-time greats such as Larry Bird and Michael Jordan to current superstars like LeBron James and Candace Parker. Readers will learn all about their favourite hoopsters and how they became part of basketball history. Record-breaking stats, famous quotes, history-making shots and more celebrate basketball stars since the game began in 1891.


In the Swish, written by Dawn Green
Red Deer Press, 2016
IL: Ages 12-16 RL: Grades 7-8

Bennett Ryan is one of the region’s very best basketball players. In fact, she single-handedly led her team to an undefeated State championship. But when she is forced to switch schools in her senior year, she must first fit in with her old rivals on this new team, then face her old team in the most heated playdowns of her young career.