Best kids' books about rugby

Best rugby books for children and teenagers
Children’s publishers have never tackled rugby as well as they have football, but there is some great fiction and non-fiction out there for kids in books and in magazines. Best-selling rugby author Tom Palmer picks a XV rugby union can be proud of.

The Rugby Spirit by Gerard Siggins

(£6.99, O’Brien)

A six-book series about a boy who is haunted by the spirits of rugby past. His ghostly teammates help him both solve the problems of the past and to progress his own game. For ages 9+.

The Rugby Sticker Book

(£5.99, Usborne)

For younger readers: a lot of stickers to do with rugby and backgrounds to stick them on. Limited reading with labels and names on some of the stickers, but lots of fun for a child – and adult – to indulge in.

The Rugby Zombie by Dan Anthony

(£5.99, Gomer Press)

Three boys go into the woods one night and find fourteen zombies dressed in Wales rugby tops. But rather than run in fear, the boys help the zombies. Funny and entertaining stuff. Three books in the series, suitable for newly confident readers aged 7+.

Rugby Union: the Official Guide to Playing the Game

(£12.99, Haynes/RFU)

Haynes manuals were originally devised to help car owners understand the nuts and bolts of their vehicles. This Haynes manual focuses – in extraordinary detail – on Rugby Union. Every rule and every position of the pitch is dealt with in well-written and clear prose, supported by excellent diagrams. For the wannabe rugby expert, many of whom are children. 9+

Pride and Penalties by Chris Higgins

(£4.49 (Kindle only), Hodder)

This a great book about a girl who wants to be a rugby player, but her rugby-loving dad doesn’t take her seriously, meaning she needs to make a point... Sadly out of print as a book, but an excellent read on Kindle (ignore the cover art!). 9+

World Rugby Records by Chris Hawkes

(£19.99, Carlton Books)

Large book packed with facts and photos, in the style of the Guinness World Records books. Perfect for browsing and hoovering up facts. 7+

Rugby Academy series by Tom Palmer

(£5.99, Barrington Stoke)

Three stories about a school rugby team that reaches the finals of tournaments in the UK, France and New Zealand. The players are mostly children of RAF personnel during a period of air conflict that the boys find it hard to cope with. For ages 9+.

Jonny: My Autobiography

(£12.99, Headline)

Many sports people’s autobiographies are not appropriate for children, but Johnny Wilkinson’s is. Wilkinson is a legend in the world game. His story is told with humility and reveals an excellent role-model for children. The first 80 pages focus on his involvement in the game as a child. 9+

Winger by Andrew Smith

(£6.99, Penguin)

About a boy who plays rugby, set in the USA. This book and its sequel, Stand Off, are the only older rugby novels out there for children, but does feature challenging attitudes from a group of boys towards girls in particular. Handle with care, though it is well-written – this is as much about girl-boy relationships as rugby. Only suitable for teenage readers, aged 13+.

Calon by Owen Sheers

(£8.99, Faber)

For secondary-school readers, this is the inside story of Wales’ last grand slam winning season, some years ago now. The author is a poet who writes like a dream. Great insight into what elite rugby players have to go through. 13+

Mr Men: The Rugby Match

(£2.99, Egmont)

A short, colourful read describing how the specific skill sets of the likes of Mr Tickle and Mr Bump create openings for last minute tries and classic Mr Men storylines.

England Rugby: The Official Junior Supporters' Guide by Clive Gifford 

(£9.99, Carlton Kids)

Updated every two to four years, this is a guide to the current England playing squad, with history, statistics and stickers. Formatted like a magazine. A good interactive book for a young rugby fan in KS2.

More rugby reading for kids: rugby magazines and newspapers

Text doesn't have to be presented between two book covers to be valuable! If your child is rugby-mad, get them into the reading habit with up-to-date commentary and news.

Be Rugby magazine (£3.95 per issue) is the only rugby magazine for children and includes features on players and teams with quizzes, puzzles and posters. Supported by lots of online content. Has a very positive ethos.

Rugby World magazine (£4.99 per issue) is a monthly magazine that focuses on international and club rugby. Includes player interviews and very well-illustrated advice on how to play the game. Much of it is aimed at teenagers and adults, but lots of children aged 9 upwards will enjoy reading parts of the magazine.

The Rugby Paper (£1.80 per issue). Weekly rugby union newspaper with match reports and articles about the game. Up-to-date  and particularly useful during major international tournaments. Published on Sundays.

  


Tom Palmer has written eight books about rugby for children. His website has lots of free stories, posters, card games and rugby literacy resources for teachers and parents to download.