For the Love of Soccer!

For the Love of Soccer Book Cover

Péle (Hyperion Books, 2010)
Level: Elementary Reader (K-4th grades)
Genre: General Fiction


Pelé, the famous Brazilian soccer player tells of his love for the game, in this fun but intimate portrait of his life on the field. There is much more to soccer, this story says, than fame and winning; being a part of a team is what makes soccer such a special sport. Illustrations of an unmentioned little boy’s efforts to follow in his hero’s footsteps are juxtaposed with illustrations of Pelé’s inspiring rise to fame, and add another, dynamic layer to the narration. A child-friendly biography of Pelé follows the story.

Phonetic Elements:

This book has a fairly easy readability level for students who read at a third grade level and beyond. By the fourth grade children should be able to recognize most of the sight words in this book. The text contains a number of age-appropriate phonetic elements with a strong emphasis on compound words. Contrasting fonts cause certain words to jump off the page and since many of the highlighted words are adjectives, verbs, negative and positive pronouns, and –ing words, this can be a good book for teaching parts of speech.

Classroom Applications:

  1. My Sport Posters– Students make posters about their favorite sport explaining why they like it and what makes it so exciting. Students have a chance to show their posters to their classmates.
  2. Social Studies: Sports Around The World– Find and print from off the Internet, pictures of traditional or indigenous sports played in different countries around the world (e.g. the sport of Jukskei in South Africa, Sumo in Japan, the game of Weme in Australia.) Have a discussion about the pictures. Where is the sport played? How might a sport be similar to one that we play in America? Which sport looks like the most fun? On a large map of the world, stick pictures of each sport on the country or continent where it is played.
  3. Field Trip– Take a class trip to a batting cage, miniature golf course, baseball game or sports center in your community.
  4. Biographies of Famous People– Read the biography of Pelé at the end of the book and discuss some of the things that happened in Pelé’s life. Explain to students that a biography is a story about a person’s life written by another person. For homework, students find out five facts about a famous person that they admire. Students have a chance to work on their biographies during Writer’s Workshop.

The sparse text of Pelé’s story makes this a good book for guided reading in the classroom. This is also a good book for introducing children to the famous soccer player or for a read-aloud during a unit on sports or teamwork. It can also be used to introduce the concept of a biography to children. That being said, the story in itself is not particularly original. Because of Morrison’s energetic, creative illustrations however, this book is likely to spark discussion and text-to-self connections with children.
Reviewer’s Rating: 3/5

About the Reviewer

Summer Edward is a Ginkgo Prize-longlisted author and has written several books for young readers, amongst them The Wonder of the World Leaf, Renaissance Man: Geoffrey Holder’s Life in the Arts, and First Class: How Elizabeth Lange Built a School. Summer earned a Master of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. Learn more at