Graphic novels about sports are extra special to me because it takes a lot of creativity to bring a sport to life using only pictures and speech bubbles. The writers and illustrators on this list do a phenomenal job at this. For this list, I’ve sourced a variety of sports graphic novels for kids ages 8 and up. These stories include graphic novels about hockey, swimming, rollerblading, basketball and so much more.
If you’d like a list of sports books for tweens (that aren’t necessarily graphic novels), you can find a whole bunch of them here. And if you’re after more graphic novels for kids of all ages, they’re over here.
Best Graphic Novels About Sports for Tweens and Teens
Here are 28 great graphic novels about sports for kids ages 8+:
Published: November 16, 2021
Lilico’s life in Japan is going well. She has great friends and is the captain of the school’s basketball team. She’s happy!
Then comes her parents’ news: they’re moving to America! Before she knows it, Lilico finds herself in Brooklyn, New York, forced to start all over. And that won’t be easy with her closest friends thousands of miles away or a school bully who immediately dislikes her.
Luckily, anime-loving Nala and Henry eventually befriend Lilico and with help from them―along with her guardian spirit who looks a lot like her cat, Nico―Lilico just might figure out where she fits in.
Published: May 17, 2022
Bree can’t wait for her first day at her new middle school, Enith Brigitha, home to the Mighty Manatees—until she’s stuck with the only elective that fits her schedule, the dreaded Swim 101. The thought of swimming makes Bree more than a little queasy, yet she’s forced to dive headfirst into one of her greatest fears. Lucky for her, Etta, an elderly occupant of her apartment building and former swim team captain, is willing to help.
With Etta’s training and a lot of hard work, Bree suddenly finds her swim-crazed community counting on her to turn the school’s failing team around. But that’s easier said than done, especially when their rival, the prestigious Holyoke Prep, has everything they need to leave the Mighty Manatees in their wake.
Can Bree defy the odds and guide her team to a state championship, or have the Manatees swum their last lap—for good?
Published: September 24, 2019
“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,” raps twelve-year-old Josh Bell. Thanks to their dad, he and his twin brother, Jordan, are kings on the court. But Josh has more than basketball in his blood—he’s got mad beats, too, which help him find his rhythm when it’s all on the line.
See the Bell family in a whole new light through Dawud Anyabwile’s dynamic illustrations as the brothers’ winning season unfolds, and the world as they know it begins to change.
Published: March 10, 2015
For most of her twelve years, Astrid has done everything with her best friend Nicole. But after Astrid falls in love with roller derby and signs up for derby camp, Nicole decides to go to dance camp instead. And so begins the most difficult summer of Astrid’s life as she struggles to keep up with the older girls at camp, hang on to the friend she feels slipping away, and cautiously embark on a new friendship. As the end of summer nears and her first roller derby bout (and junior high!) draws closer, Astrid realizes that maybe she is strong enough to handle the bout, a lost friendship, and middle school… in short, strong enough to be a roller girl.
Published: September 12, 2017
It was the same every morning. Wake up, grab the ice skates, and head to the rink while the world was still dark.
Weekends were spent in glitter and tights at competitions. Perform. Smile. And do it again.
She was good. She won. And she hated it.
For ten years, figure skating was Tillie Walden’s life. She woke before dawn for morning lessons, went straight to group practice after school, and spent weekends competing at ice rinks across the state. Skating was a central piece of her identity, her safe haven from the stress of school, bullies, and family. But as she switched schools, got into art, and fell in love with her first girlfriend, she began to question how the close-minded world of figure skating fit in with the rest of her life, and whether all the work was worth it given the reality: that she, and her friends on the team, were nowhere close to Olympic hopefuls. The more Tillie thought about it, the more Tillie realized she’d outgrown her passion―and she finally needed to find her own voice.
Published: April 18, 2017
Derek Ouelette’s glory days are behind him. His hockey career ended a decade earlier in a violent incident on ice, and since then he’s been living off his reputation in the remote northern community where he grew up, drinking too much and fighting anyone who crosses him. But he never counts on his long-lost sister, Beth, showing up one day out of the blue, back in town and on the run from an abusive boyfriend. Looking to hide out for a while, the two siblings hunker down in a secluded hunting camp deep in the local woods. It is there that they attempt to find a way to reconnect with each other and the painful secrets of their past…even as Beth’s ex draws closer, threatening to pull both Derek and Beth back into a world of self-destruction that they are fighting tooth and nail to leave behind.
Simultaneously touching and harrowing, Roughneck is a masterwork from New York Times bestselling writer/artist Jeff Lemire—a deeply moving and beautifully illustrated story of family, heritage, and the desire to break the cycle of violence at any cost from one of today’s most acclaimed comic creators.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Big Shot
Published: October 26, 2021
After a disastrous field day competition at school, Greg decides that when it comes to his athletic career, he’s officially retired. But after his mom urges him to give sports one more chance, he reluctantly agrees to sign up for basketball.
Tryouts are a mess, and Greg is sure he won’t make the cut. But he unexpectedly lands a spot on the worst team.
As Greg and his new teammates start the season, their chances of winning even a single game look slim. But in sports, anything can happen. When everything is on the line and the ball is in Greg’s hands, will he rise to the occasion? Or will he blow his big shot?
The Fifth Quarter
Published: May 25, 2021
Lori Block is dedicated to her fourth-grade basketball team, despite being relegated to an extra period before the real game starts, known as the fifth quarter, where the not-so-good kids play and the points don’t count. That doesn’t matter to Lori though, because working on her skills gives her hints of self-confidence, which is a nice break from feeling awkward and out-of-place in her daily life.
With athletic promise and a dogged determination to keep improving, Lori pursues her passion while navigating awkward social dynamics, her own expectations, and her first overnight away from home. Will her drive allow her to find true courage both on the court, in school, and at home?
Published: June 22, 2021
Hudi needs to lose weight, according to his doctors. Concerned about the serious medical issue Hudi had when he was younger, his parents push him to try out for sports. Hudi would rather do anything else, but then he meets Chunky, his imaginary friend and mascot. Together, they decide to give baseball a shot.
As the only Mexican and Jewish kid in his neighborhood, Hudi has found the cheerleader he never had. Baseball doesn’t go well (unless getting hit by the ball counts), but the two friends have a great time drawing and making jokes. While Hudi’s parents keep trying to find the right sport for Hudi, Chunky encourages him to pursue his true love—comedy.
But when Hudi’s dad loses his job, it gets harder for Hudi to chart his own course, even with Chunky’s guidance. Can Chunky help Hudi stay true to himself or will this friendship strike out?
Sayonara, Football, Vol 1
Published: July 12, 2016
14-year-old Nozomi Onda has only one thing on her mind: playing beautiful football. There’s just one problem: no matter how much she longs to participate in official matches, she’d have physically superior boys as opponents. But when a boy from her past confronts her on the street, she decides she can’t wait any longer.
Kate’s Really Good at Hockey
Published: November 27, 2018
Best. Summer. Ever. At least it was supposed to be.
Kate can’t wait to attend the elite girls’ hockey camp in Denver and go up against some of the best players from around the world. But then Mom says Kate has to stay with her grandma in Denver, who doesn’t care about Kate’s hockey dreams at all. And two players at the camp have it in for Kate both on and off the ice. Toss in a tough-as-nails coach and a huge family secret, and Kate’s perfect summer isn’t turning out quite like she planned.
Full Court Pressure
Published: April 1, 2014
Star defensive player Zack Fuller is in a tough spot. His new Panthers teammates don’t trust him. The players on the Bulldogs, his old squad, think he’s a traitor for leaving. When the two teams face each other in the playoffs, Zack has to guard his former best friend. To make matters worse, the Panthers captain refuses to pass the ball to Zack. Caught between a Panther and a Bulldog, and in serious foul trouble, Zack will have to find a way to play through the pressure.
Published: August 31, 2017
Fieldhouse follows Scotty Novosel on his journey to play basketball for the Kansas Jayhawks. What he lacks in size he makes up for in heart, but countless obstacles and a devastating setback push his dream further and further out of reach… With incredible persistence, positive energy, and help from a cast of endearing characters, Scotty discovers just what it takes to transform vision into reality!
In March 1995, Scott Novosel started for the Kansas Jayhawks in the Big 8 Championship game. For the next 20 years, through endless determination and a mantra of never giving up, Scott completed the all ages graphic novel FIELDHOUSE with the help of the Eisner Award nominated artist Sam Sharpe. Together the duo produced an instant classic! The story of the making of the book was featured on Sports Illustrated.
Published: March 17, 2020
Gene understands stories―comic book stories, in particular. Big action. Bigger thrills. And the hero always wins.
But Gene doesn’t get sports. As a kid, his friends called him “Stick” and every basketball game he played ended in pain. He lost interest in basketball long ago, but at the high school where he now teaches, it’s all anyone can talk about. The men’s varsity team, the Dragons, is having a phenomenal season that’s been decades in the making. Each victory brings them closer to their ultimate goal: the California State Championships.
Once Gene gets to know these young all-stars, he realizes that their story is just as thrilling as anything he’s seen on a comic book page. He knows he has to follow this epic to its end. What he doesn’t know yet is that this season is not only going to change the Dragons’s lives, but his own life as well.
SLAM! Vol 1
Published: August 15, 2017
In the fast-paced, hard-hitting, super cheeky, all-female world of banked track roller derby, two young women will have to decide if their budding friendship is stronger than the pull of a team when a win is on the line.
When life starts coming at you like a freight train, you have two options: run away screaming or lean into the hit.
From the first day of Fresh Meat Orientation for the Eastside Roller Girls, Jennifer and Maisie knew they’d be fast friends. But when they’re drafted to different teams, the pull of competition — and their increasingly messy personal lives — threaten to drive them apart. In roller derby you take your hits, get back up, and learn how to be a better jammer, a better blocker, a better lover, and a better friend. Derby can heal your heart . . . but it might break a bone or two in the process.
The Comic Book Story of Professional Wrestling
Published: October 2, 2018
As a pop culture phenomenon, professional wrestling–with its heroic babyfaces and villainous heels performing suplexes and powerbombs in pursuit of championship gold–has conquered audiences in the United States and around the world. Now, writer/podcaster Aubrey Sitterson and illustrator Chris Moreno form a graphic novel tag team to present wrestling’s complete illustrated history. Featuring legendary wrestlers like Bruno Sammartino, Hulk Hogan, and The Rock, and modern-day favorites like John Cena, Kenny Omega, and Sasha Banks, the book covers wrestling’s progress from the carnival days of the Gold Dust Trio to the dominance of the WWF/WWE to today’s diverse independent wrestling scene, and it spotlights wrestling’s reach into Mexico/Puerto Rico (lucha libre), the U.K. (all-in), and Japan (puroresu).
Cross Game 1
Published: October 12, 2010
This poignant coming-of-age story will change your perception of what shonen manga can be. About the game of life…and baseball.
Cross Game is a moving drama that is heartfelt and true, yet in the brilliant hands of manga artist Mitsuru Adachi, delightfully flows with a light and amusing touch. The series centers around a boy named Ko, the family of four sisters who live down the street and the game of baseball. This poignant coming-of-age story will change your perception of what shonen manga can be.
Published: December 21, 2015
The Otters are absolutely awesome in practice. Everyone’s talented and determined, and their new quarterback, Aaron Corbin, throws bullets… so why are the Otters struggling to win games? Steve Michaels, one of the team’s receivers, notices that Aaron seems to be afraid of getting hit. With a little help from his teammates, Steve goes to great lengths to toughen up Aaron only to discover that toughness isn’t the quarterback’s actual problem…
The Story of Roberto Clemente
Published: April 12, 2011
The biographical 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente is a human drama of courage, faith and dignity, inspired by the life of baseball star Roberto Clemente.
No other baseball player dominated the 1960s like Roberto Clemente and no other Latin American player achieved his numbers. Born in 1924 in Puerto Rico, Clemente excelled in track and field and loved baseball. By the age of 17 he was playing in the PR Winter league. Spotted by the big-league scouts because of his hitting, fielding, and throwing abilities, he joined the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1954. A fierce competitor, within two seasons he was hitting above .300 consistently. He played like a man possessed, fielding superbly, unleashing his rifle arm, and hitting in clutch situations. Despite his aesthetic brilliance, he faced prejudice throughout his career and was given his due only after his unexpected and tragic death in a 1972 plane crash.
Although baseball was his obsession, Clemente never lost sight of his dreams and his greater responsibilities outside the game. This sense of urgency is what came to define him beyond that of a grand athlete. His eventual success and accompanying celebrity gave him the opportunity to engage his conscience in public life. He died when his plane went down in the Caribbean Sea on a relief mission to earthquake-torn Nicaragua that he personally directed.
21 chronicles Clemente’s life from his early days growing up in rural Puerto Rico, the highlights of his career (including the 1960s World Series where he helped the Pirates win its first victory in 33 years, and his 3000th hit in 1972 during the last official at-bat of his life) as well as his private life and public mission off the field.
After his death, Major League Baseball declared September 18 to be “Roberto Clemente Day,” and in 1999, Pittsburgh’s Sixth Street Bridge was renamed the Roberto Clemente Bridge in honor of the greatest Latino ballplayer in history. Wilfred Santiago captures the grit of Clemente’s rise from his impoverished Puerto Rican childhood, to the majesty of his performance on the field, to his fundamental decency as a human being in a drawing style that combines realistic attention to detail and expressive cartooning. 200 pages of two-color comics
Published: December 21, 2015
Joe knows kung fu. In fact, he loves it more than anything. Every single evening, Joe walks to his neighborhood kung fu studio to practice for hours on end… until the day he arrives to find his studio is closed–permanently. Unperturbed, Joe decides to pursue his second-favorite activity–basketball. He joins his school’s team only to find that the players are disorganized, timid, and lacking in discipline! So, Joe uses his experience in martial arts to bring out the best–or beast!–in his teammates by assigning each player a particular style of kung fu that suits their personalities. Will their newfound skills lead to flawless victory, or will they continue to get beaten to the punch?
A Map of the Sun
Published: August 4, 2020
One summer day, Ren meets Luna at a beachside basketball court and a friendship is born. But when Luna moves to back to Oahu, Ren’s messages to her friend go unanswered.
Years go by. Then Luna returns, hoping to rekindle their friendship. Ren is hesitant. She’s dealing with a lot, including family troubles, dropping grades, and the newly formed women’s basketball team at their high school.
With Ren’s new friends and Luna all on the basketball team, the lines between their lives on and off the court begin to blur. During their first season, this diverse and endearing group of teens are challenged in ways that make them reevaluate just who and how they trust.
Published: December 21, 2015
More than anything else, Franco dreams of going pro some day. After all, his soccer coaches say he’s the best kind of player–more giving than greedy, preferring to rack up the assists instead of scoring goals. And that method works just fine until Franco has to change schools. On his new team, the Warlocks, Franco’s pass-first approach to soccer just isn’t working. To make matters worse, the team is filled with ball-hogs, and their coach doesn’t seem to care. Franco refuses to let his dream of going pro die, but the new team is pretty much a living nightmare…
Published: April 1, 2014
Tane Kalana is a natural on the water. He rides waves with ease and looks good doing it. But being talented tends to put a target on your back, and Cody Hannigan has his sights set on taking Tane down a notch. Cody challenges him to a surfer showdown at Breaker Bay! The infamous surfing locale is known to be unpredictable and dangerous, but Tane is tired of Cody’s bullying, and Cody won’t leave Tane be unless he agrees to a standoff at sundown.
Published: April 1, 2014
Matty is the team captain of the local soccer club, the Strikers. His team is talented, but Matty can’t help but feel that something’s missing. He hasn’t improved in a while, and wonders if he needs to switch things up in order to keep improving. So, he decides to head out to the local park to kick it with some of the street ball kids. Matty figures he’ll run right through the disorganized teens. Instead, he gets a swift kick in the pants!
Published: December 21, 2015
Jared Richards is undefeated in baseball games–video games, anyway. But when he loses a bet to his best friend, Jared is forced to get off the couch and step onto the field for his school’s baseball team tryouts. Despite the fact that he’s never even held a baseball before, Jared ends up being pretty impressive as a pitcher–until the line between video games and reality begins to blur. Can Jared sort out the glitch in his brain before he blows the big game?
Published: April 1, 2014
Trey McTiernan, the Spartans’ team captain, becomes fast friends with Griffin Henshaw, the newest member of their squad. The problem is, Griff used to play for the Spartans’ biggest rivals, the Goliaths, and the rest of the Spartans’ think he’s a rat. So, Trey’s teammates set a trap for Griff to see where his loyalties lie — and they ask Trey to be the bait! Trey doesn’t know what to do. If his teammates are right, then betraying his friendship with Griff will save their season. But if they’re wrong, then Trey will end up being the rat . . .
Track Team Titans
Published: April 1, 2014
Track season is about to begin, and Gerald “Sully” Sullivan is ready and raring to run. But on the first day of tryouts, no other students show up! If the Titans don’t get more members, there won’t be a track team. So Sully pays a visit to the other sports teams, hoping their star athletes will join. None of the other athletes think much of track and field. Sully will have to beat them at their own sports to change their minds. . . .
Published: April 1, 2014
In last year’s state championship game, Ryan Rogan beaned Kyle Walker with a red-hot fastball. The pitch injured Kyle, forcing him to leave the game. His team lost, and Ryan got to celebrate the win while Kyle headed to the hospital. It took several months for Kyle’s injury to heal, and he couldn’t shake the suspicion that Ryan had intentionally threw at him. But Kyle has put all that out of his mind, because he’s excited for a fresh start this year — until he discovers that Ryan will be joining his team . . .
There they are: 28 of the best graphic novels and comics about sports! Which ones have you read? What did I miss?
More Book Lists
- Graphic novels for teens
- Young graphic novels for elementary school kids
- Graphic novel series for kids
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