Babe Didrikson Zaharias: The Making of a Champion

Book review by
Monica Wyatt, Common Sense Media
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Uplifting sports bio for tweens and up.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

Babe struggles with prejudices against women.

Violence
Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Babe struggles with prejudice against women. Written with verve that matches Babe's personality, this true story will encourage young readers, especially those interested in sports.

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What's the story?

From childhood on, Mildred \"Babe\" Didrikson demonstrated an incredible ability in sports. She was so good at baseball that she played with boys, who chose her first to be on their teams.

She left school early to take a job as a clerk for a company that sponsored her in athletics. In 1932, she competed as the only member of her team, and singlehandly won a track-and-field tournament that led her to the Los Angeles Olympics.

There she won two gold medals and a silver medal, and she became a national celebrity. Babe traveled to play exhibition sports, making good money to support her family. Finally she settled on golf, where she prevailed against ladies who didn't want a working-class woman competing in their tournaments. After marrying George Zaharias, a famous wrestler, she astounded the golf world by winning tournaments for a decade, until she died of cancer in 1956.

Is it any good?

This uplifting biography of the one of the 20th century's greatest female athletes will inspire many kids who love sports and any form of competition. The book sparkles as it lets Babe's exuberant personality shine through. Plenty of pictures and quotations help the text come alive for young readers. A must-read, especially for athletic teens.

Girls who still struggle for acceptance as athletes will be amazed by this true story of a woman so athletically gifted and so determined to win that she blazed a way through prejudices far worse than girls experience today. Russell Freedman keeps the book moving with frequent smart-aleck quotations from Babe and those who knew her. He inserts sports statistics into the narrative, and includes many black-and-white photographs, along with an extensive index, background sources, and an afterword. It all adds up to a book nearly as lively as Babe herself.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Babe's discipline helped her win at a time when women were not accepted in sports. Why were women treated this way? How have things changed? Do they need to change more?

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