Go for the Gold!

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Be a gold medal reader! Get ready for the Summer Games by reading these great books about the Olympics. Our list features a variety of titles for children and adults, including champion biographies, Olympic-themed fiction, and amazing stories of historic events and achievements. Compiled by Karen, ITBOC Clerical Assistant.


My Greek Drama: Life, Love, and One Woman's Olympic Effort to Bring Glory to Her Country

Gianna Angelopoulos


Autobiography of the lawyer/politician from the Greek island of Crete who organized the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. Angelopoulos discusses her groundbreaking career and family life and her country's post-Olympic economic crisis. 2013.

Biography, Greek Interest

Imperfect: An Improbable Life

Jim Abbott


Autobiography of professional baseball pitcher and 1988 Olympic gold-medal winner who was born without a right hand. Abbott discusses his blue-collar Flint, Michigan, childhood spent playing sports; his achievements in the major leagues, including a 1993 no-hitter for the New York Yankees; and his determination to reach the top. 2012.

Biography, Disability Interest, Baseball

It's true! It's true!

Kurt Angle


Autobiography by the 1996 Olympic gold medal-winning wrestler. He describes growing up in Pittsburgh in a blue-collar family and becoming a World Champion in 1995. He discusses joining Vince McMahon's World Wrestling Federation, becoming a televised antihero. 2001.

Bestseller, Wrestling, Download Only

Jesse Owens: An American Life

William Baker


Biography of the black track and field athlete best remembered for winning four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, a feat that in one afternoon smashed Hitler's myth of Aryan supremacy. Recounts Owens's private and public life, focusing upon his early years, his training as an athlete, and his unique status as a black celebrity in an era still dominated by racial prejudices. 1986.

Biography, Download Only

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics

Daniel James Brown


Recounts the accomplishments of nine working-class athletes from the University of Washington who beat elite teams at home and abroad and won the gold medal for rowing at the 1936 Nazi-orchestrated Berlin Olympics.  2013.

Bestseller, Biography, Download Only

Speed Kings: The 1932 Winter Olympics and the Fastest Men in the World

Andy Bull


Sportswriter looks at the bobsled team that won gold in the 1932 Olympic Games in Lake Placid, New York. Fast and dangerous, the sport gained a following among thrill-seekers, including the four young men who became some of the first Winter Olympics superstars. 2015.

Winter Sports, Biography

Babe: The Life and Legend of Babe Didrikson Zaharias

Susan Cayleff


Biography of Mildred (Babe) Didrikson, who was a success at every sport she tried. In 1932 she won javelin toss and hurdles at the women's Olympic games, and later she became a golf pro. Babe created her public image first as an androgynous star and then as a more feminine wife of wrestler George Zaharias, while keeping the nature of her relationship with young golfer Betty Dodd a secret. Babe died of cancer at forty-five. 1995.

Biography, Gay Interest, Download Only

Three-Year Swim Club: The Untold Story of Maui's Sugar Ditch Kids and Their Quest for Olympic Glory

Julie Checkoway


The story of Soichi Sakamoto and the Japanese American children he trained to be champion swimmers, hoping to have them compete in the 1940 Olympic Games. The children came from extreme poverty on Maui, swimming in the irrigation ditches of the sugar plantation where they lived. 2015.

Biography, Swimming


Chris Cleave


Kate and Zoe are Olympic speed cyclists, best friends, and fierce rivals. Both women train under the same coach for the 2012 games--their last--but Kate's eight-year-old daughter Sophie is gravely ill and International Olympic Committee rule changes force the pals to compete for the same slot. 2012.

Fiction, Cycling

The Boys of Winter: The Untold Story of a Coach, a Dream, and the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team

Wayne R. Coffey


Sportswriter explains how coach Herb Brooks of the University of Minnesota devised a plan using his amateur players to defeat the professional Soviet hockey team at the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid. Includes play-by-play descriptions and biographical sketches of the participants in the surprising upset during the Cold War.  2005.

Hockey, Cold War, Download Only

American Son: My Story

Oscar De La Hoya

DB067784, DB065998 (Spanish Language)

Boxing's "golden boy" De La Hoya relates his professional experiences and his successes in the ring, where he won six world championships and an Olympic gold medal. He also recounts the triumphs and failings in his personal life. 2008.

Biography, Boxing, Download Only

Patriot Hearts: Inside the Olympics That Changed a Country

John Furlong


When John Furlong emigrated from Ireland in 1974, the customs officer greeted him with "Welcome to Canada. Make us better" - an imperative that has defined Furlong's life. An accomplished athlete with a track record of community service, Furlong was a volunteer for Vancouver's 2010 Olympic bid movement when it began in 1996 and then spent the next 14 years living and breathing the Olympics. Furlong and his organizing team, including 25,000 volunteers and many partners, orchestrated a remarkable Winter Games. 2011.

Biography, Download Only

Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times

Thomas Hauser


Hauser states that his goal is to allow people to know the real Muhammad Ali--the man with a gentle and caring heart, a generous nature, and deep personal convictions that he strives to live up to every day. Hauser recounts Ali's life--from his youth in Louisville to his rebirth in the Islamic religion and his semi-retirement in Michigan--as told by family members and colleagues. 1992.

Bestseller, Biography, Download Only

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption

Laura Hillenbrand

DB072129, DB080984 (Spanish Language)

Author of Seabiscuit (DB 51968) details the life of Louis Zamperini (b. 1917), an Olympic runner and World War II bombardier, who survived a plane crash and forty-seven days adrift at sea only to become a POW in Japan. Relates Louis's later religious awakening under Billy Graham's ministry. 2010.

Bestseller, History, War, Track and Field

A Kind of Grace: The Autobiography of the World's Greatest Female Athlete

Jacqueline Joyner-Kersee


Heptathlon champion recalls her poor childhood with a loving family in Illinois, her years playing basketball at UCLA, and her career in track and field that led to an Olympic medal in 1996. She describes overcoming numerous injuries and health problems. 1997.

Biography, Download Only

Breaking the Surface

Greg Louganis


Louganis, winner of four Olympic gold medals, discusses his problems with low self-esteem, bouts with depression, alcohol and drug abuse, homosexuality, and AIDS. 1995.

Bestseller, Biography, Swimming, Gay Interest

Dream Team: How Michael, Magic, Larry, Charles, and the Greatest Team of All Time Conquered the World and Changed the Game of Basketball...

Jack McCallum


Sports Illustrated reporter covers the 1992 U.S. gold medal-winning Olympic basketball team--the first ever composed of professionals--from its inception to the medal ceremony in Barcelona. Details the selection of the players, the fourteen games they played together, and the team's mark on basketball history.  2012.

Bestseller, Basketball

Gold in the Water: The True Story of Ordinary Men and Their Extraordinary Dream of Olympic Glory

P.H. Mullen


Chronicles the arduous years of training of the 2000 U.S. Olympic swim team that led to victory in Australia. Follows coach Dick Jochums and his athletes, including two asthmatics who overcame their medical problems to succeed. 2001.

Biography, Swimming, Disability Interest, Download Only

Private Games

James Patterson


As the 2012 Olympic Games open in London, a psychopath known as Cronus works feverishly to destroy them. Investigator Peter Knight, with the firm Private, has a personal and professional stake in catching the fiend: his mother's fiancé--a games organizer--was killed by Cronus. 2012.

Bestseller, Suspense Fiction

The Naked Olympics: The True Story of the Ancient Games

Tony Perrottet


Author of Route 66 A.D. (RC 56790) examines the experience of attending the ancient Olympic games as "a spectator, an athlete, or one of the overworked officials." Recreates five hectic days and nights in Olympia, Greece, where the games were a part of the many festivals taking place. 2004.

History, Sports, Download Only

No Limits: The Will to Succeed

Michael Phelps


Autobiography of American swimmer Michael Phelps, who won eight gold medals at the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in China. Describes his Maryland upbringing with two champion-swimmer older sisters, the diagnosis of his attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and his training routine. Maintains that hard work, confidence, and perseverance are necessary for success. 2008.

Biography, Swimming

Fully Alive: Discovering What Matters Most

Timothy Shriver


Chairman of the Special Olympics and son of its founder, Eunice Shriver, recounts his experiences with the organization, both as a child and an adult. Describes his family's history, particularly his aunt Rosemary; his mother's work on behalf of those with intellectual disabilities; and the Special Olympics' influence on his life. 2014

Autobiography, Disability Interest

Wilma Rudolph: A Biography

Maureen Margaret Smith


Biography of African American athlete Wilma Rudolph (1940-1994), who won Olympic track medals in 1956 and 1960 after triumphing over childhood polio. Highlights Rudolph's family life in the segregated South and her post-Olympic struggles against racism and sexism. 2006.

Biography, Track and Field, Download Only

Berlin Games: How the Nazis Stole the Olympic Dream

Guy Walters 


A complete and thoroughly riveting account of the 1936 Olympic Games, Hitler's grand showcase for Germany's revival and a foreshadowing for the world of the horrors soon to come.  2006.

History, Politics, Download Only

Don't Give Up, Don't Give In: Lessons from an Extraordinary Life

Louis Zamperini


Words of wisdom from Zamperini (1917-2014), the subject of Laura Hillenbrand's Unbroken (DB 72129). He remembers growing up in California, first as a troublemaker and then an Olympian who went to Berlin in 1936. Recalls his WWII service, his imprisonment, and his experiences and charitable acts after his return home. 2014.

Biography, War

Children’s Books

Women Olympic Champions

Nathan Aasang


Profiles the lives and struggles of seven outstanding female Olympic champions from various time periods, nations, and events: Sonja Henie, figure skating; Babe Didrikson, track and field; Fanny Blankers-Koen, running; Dawn Fraser, swimming; Lydia Skoblikova, speed-skating; Nadia Comaneci, gymnastics; and Jackie Joyner-Kersee, heptathlon. 2001.

Grades 5-8, Biography, Download Only

The Story of the Olympics

Dave Anderson


Traces the history of the Olympics from its beginning in 776 B.C. to modern times. Relates stories about medal-winning athletes who participate in events such as track and field, gymnastics, swimming, diving, figure skating, skiing, and speed skating. 2000.

Grades 5-8, History, Download Only

The Nazi Olympics: Berlin 1936

Susan D. Bachrach 


Examines the 1936 games in the historical context of Nazi beliefs and propaganda. Describes the systematic exclusion of non-Aryan--Jewish, part Jewish, and gypsy--athletes from German sports and Hitler's treatment of African American Olympic champions. Discusses world reaction to these events. Vividly recounted by Susan Bachrach, author of Tell Them We Remember. 2000.

Grades 5-8, History, Download Only

Jim Thorpe, Original All-American

Joseph Bruchac         


Fictional autobiography of Native American athlete Jim Thorpe (1887-1953). Recounts his early life on an Oklahoma reservation and at Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania, where he excelled in sports. Describes winning two Olympic gold medals and the scandal of losing them on a technicality. 2006.

Grades 6-9, Historical Fiction, Native American Interest

Fire on Ice: Autobiography of a Champion Figure Skater

Sasha Cohen


Olympic Silver Medal-winning figure skater from California (born 1984) chronicles her career from the age of seven through the 2006 winter games in Torino, Italy. Highlights the hard work, injuries, and adversities she overcame to achieve success in her field. 2005.

Young Adult, Biography, Figure Skating, Download Only

Grace, Gold and Glory: My Leap of Faith

Gabrielle Douglas


Autobiography of Olympic gold-medal gymnast Gabrielle Douglas. Recounts her early life in Virginia, her professional training in Iowa, and the sacrifices she and her family made to support her dream. Credits her faith and family for her success at the 2012 London games. 2012.

Young Adult, Biography, Gymnastics

Babe Didrikson Zaharias: The Making of a Champion

Russell Freedman


Biography of the "greatest woman athlete of all time," who broke records in golf, track and field, and other sports in an era when there were few opportunities for female players. Discusses her childhood and her career after winning three medals in the 1932 Olympics.  1999.

Grades 5-8, Biography, Download Only

Jim and Me: A Baseball Card Adventure

Dan Gutman


Joe Stoshack's longtime enemy Bobby Fuller asks Joe to use a vintage baseball card to time travel with him. The boys want to meet Jim Thorpe, the twentieth century's greatest athlete and Bob's great-grandfather, but they arrive in 1913--after Thorpe's Olympic medals were taken away. 2008.

Grades 4-7, Adventure Fiction

Jackie Joyner-Kersee: Champion Athlete

Geri Harrington


Discusses the training and successes of the Olympic gold medal-winning athlete in track and field. Despite the fact that exercise triggered her asthma, Jackie Joyner-Kersee excelled in the heptathlon and long jump events. 1995.

Grades 5-8, Biography, Track and Field, Download Only

Special Olympics

Mike Kennedy


Short history of Special Olympics--the winter and summer athletic games held every four years for competitors who are mentally retarded. Discusses this condition and explains how these special participants are chosen. 2002.

Grades 3-6, Disability Interest

Athletes with Disabilities

Deborah Kent


Discusses the history of athletic events for people with disabilities, including the Paralympics and the Special Olympics. Also profiles several individuals who have competed in them. 2003.

Grades 4-7, Disability Interest, Download Only

Hour of the Olympics

Mary Pope Osborne  

DB054426, BR014203

When Jack and Annie travel back in time to ancient Greece to find a lost story, they arrive during the Olympics. They discover that girls did not have many rights in those days. 1998.

Grades 2-4, Adventure Fiction

How to Train with a T. Rex and Win Eight Gold Medals

Michael Phelps

BR019007  (In Process)

Michael Phelps describes his six years of physical training to win eight gold medals in swimming at the 2008 Olympics. Measures his eating in calories and pizzas, his swimming practice in meters and miles, and winning his last race by a fingernail! 2009.

Grades K-3, Biography, Swimming

Twelve Rounds to Glory: The Story of Muhammad Ali

Charles R. Smith


Rap-inspired verse celebrates the life of American boxing champion Muhammad Ali, born Cassius Clay in 1942. Covers Ali's 1960 Olympic gold medal, his conversion to Islam, objections to the war in Vietnam, attitudes towards racism, and battle with Parkinson's disease. Coretta Scott King Honor Book.  2007.

Grades 5-8, Biography, Poetry, Boxing, Download Only

On the Field with...Mia Hamm

Glenn Stout

DB057997, BR016814

Biography of one of the top female soccer players in the United States. Describes how Mia Hamm helped her team win a gold medal in the 1996 Olympics and a victory in the 1999 World Cup championship. Includes a chronology of Hamm's career highlights. 1998.

Grades 4-7, Biography, Soccer, Download Only

Wilma Rudolph: Sports Heroes and Legends

Thomas Streissguth


Biography of African American track and field star Wilma Rudolph (born 1940), who became a successful athlete despite a childhood battle with polio that left her unable to walk. Describes her career and highlights the 1960 Olympic Games, where Rudolph won three gold medals. 2006.

Grades 4-7, Biography, Track and Field