16 of the best kids' books about football

Best football books for children
Would your child rather be kicking a ball than picking up a book? Get them excited about reading with fiction and non-fiction titles about the beautiful game, from World Cup histories and step-by-step technique manuals to brilliant football fiction for all ages.
The Story of the World Cup by Richard Brassey (£4.99, Orion)

Two hundred countries taking part. Three stolen trophies. A heroic dog named Pickles. It's all explained in this fact-packed book, beautifully illustrated in Richard Brassey's clear, accessible style. Expect an expert running commentary about greatest players, golden boots and Cup records to accompany all match-watching after it's been read!

50 Football Skills (£6.99, Usbourne)

A practical manual of tips and techniques, 50 Football Skills covers all areas of the game, from the basics of attacking and defending to the complexities of making a perfect corner kick and obeying the offside rule.
Guaranteed to be studied obsessively (thankfully it's pocket-sized for easy access at the park or on the pitch!).

Billy Bonkers: and the Wacky World Cup! by Giles Andreae (£4.99, Hachette)

Three funny, illustrated football stories in one book, the perfect length for newly independent readers to read alone. Landing a plane and flying through the air in a hot-air balloon to the World Cup final, Billy Bonkers is a great wacky hero for KS1 soccer devotees.

Football Joke Book by Clive Gifford (£5.99, Hachette)

Arm your child with a huge selection of good, clean football jokes. The puns, one-liners, visual gags and plays on words will ensure they're expanding their vocabulary with all the relevant lingo!

Cinderboy by Laurence Anholt (£4.99, Orchard Books)

A football-retelling of Cinderella, this "seriously silly" story will be appreciated by KS1 readers and is also great to read aloud. Cinders cleans up after his ugly brothers and nasty stepdad and doesn't have a hope of going to the cup final... until he gets invited to play!

Football things to make and do (£4.99, Usborne)

Keep footy fans entertained with some hands-on craft projects. Make a flicking football game, a 3D penalty shoot-out and a league table with slot-in football shirts, all from everyday household items. Each activity is clearly illustrated with step-by-step instructions, so minimal supervision is required.

Girls FC by Helena Pielichaty (£4.99, Walker)

Each of the books in the Girls FC series focuses on a different player; the first title introduces us to Megan Fawcett, who dreams of being a goalkeeper and decides to form a girls' football team. Author Helen Pielichaty is an avid fan of women's football and the series is a firm favourite with football-mad girls; find out more and download Girls FC activity sheets.

Keeper by Mal Peet (£6.99, Walker Books)

A great choice for confident readers (aged 10+), Mal Peet's debut novel won the Branford Boase Award and the Bronze Nestlé Children's Book Prize. The story of a teenager with a supernatural mentor who teaches him the art of goalkeeping, it's a rich and complex read.

Kicking a Ball by Allan Ahlberg (£6.99, Puffin)

Allan Ahlberg's new rhyming story is wonderful to read aloud while your child pores over the illustrations. An ode to the joys of simply kicking a ball, this is a guaranteed new bedtime story favourite for boys and girls aged 2 to 5.

The World of Norm: May Need Rebooting by Jonathan Meres (£6.99, Orchard Books)

The World of Norm series by award-winning comedian Jonathan Meres has sold over 200,000 copies in the UK alone. Ideal for fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid and David Walliams the latest installment in the laugh-out-loud series sees Norm dealing with AN ABSO-FLIPPING-LUTE DISASTER in his own, inimitable style...

Being a pro footballer by Sarah Levete (£8.99, Hachette)

Find out about the highs, the lows, the perks and the hard work involved in professional football. Read about a day in the life of a pro footballer, with behind-the-scenes information from ex-England player Gary Neville and international soccer star Marta – have you got what it takes to make it to the top? The perfect non-fiction read for aspiring footballers in KS2.

Football Academy by Tom Palmer (£5.99, Puffin)

Packed with football action and great off-field story lines, Tom Palmer's books are often cited as the reason a reluctant reader turned into a book-lover! The fist book in the Football Academy series focuses on United's under-12s team; short chapters, large illustrations and player ratings make it an ideal read for children aged 7 and above.

Truth or Busted: The Fact or Fiction Behind Football by Adam Sutherland (£5.99, Hachette)

God knocked England out of the 1986 World Cup. WWI was stopped for a football match. Footballers earn less than their underpants do... These and other myths and facts are explored and evalulated in a fun, child-friendly style and offer plenty of conversation starters for football enthusiasts.

Frankie and the World Cup Carnival by Frank Lampard (£5.99. Little, Brown)

New in the Frankie's Magic Football series, this brazil-based adventure sees Frankie, Louise, Charlie and Max the dog in South America, trying to track down a referee's whistle, a football and a trophy to help England win the World Cup. A great and topical option for new readers.

Jake Cake and the Football Beast by Michael Broad (£5.99, Puffin)

A football-playing yeti and Jake Cake, a not-too-great football player, are the stars of this funny, accessible tale. Recommended for reluctant readers.

Famous player biographies by Matt Oldfield and Tom Oldfield (£5.99, John Blake Publishing) 

Fictionalised biographies of some of the world's most famous footballers will show your child how ordinary boys rose through the ranks to play on the world stage. Wayne Rooney, Gareth Bale and Raheem Sterling are just a few of the famous names covered.

Football learning: ideas for parents

Get football-loving kids excited about reading for pleasure with some brilliant soccer-inspired ideas from the National Literacy Trust. Director of the Trust Jonathan Douglas says: “We know from our experience of working with reluctant readers just how powerful football can be in getting children to enjoy reading, which gives them vital skills for the future.”

A vast range of resources is available to download; most of them are most suitable for the classroom, but you can also print out a World Cup Children's Book Bingo and a ball-shaped book review template to use at home.

During the 2014 football World Cup, best-selling football author Tom Palmer wrote a 26-episode cliff-hanger story responding to events as they happened (on and off the pitch!). Access each installment of Foul Play: Brazil for free. He'll be writing a similar live sixteen-chapter story responding to the unfolding events of Euro 2016 and featuring a Somme centenary story line; Over the Line will be online from 13 June.

The Premier League Reading Stars Online Challenge will also appeal to young readers; in each challenge a Premier League player reads an extract of text and challenges children to answer reading comprehension questions of varying difficulty.

Football-inspired learning doesn't have to be limited to reading – TheSchoolRun suggests a number of maths and geography activities your football fan might enjoy.