Mind Games

By Jeanette Larson

Books to Share

  • The Battle of the Bakers by George Edward Stanley.
  • Championship Domino Toppling by Robert Speca.
  • The Competitive Edge (Hardy Boys Case Files 111) by Franklin W. Dixon.
  • Don’t Step on the Foul Line by George Sullivan.
  • Good Sports: Winning, Losing, and Everything in Between by Therese Kauchak.
  • What? What? What?: Astounding, Weird, Wonderful and Just Plain Unbelievable Facts by Lyn Thomas.

Books to Show or Booktalk

  • The Case of the Sneaker Sneak by James Preller.
  • The Girls Take Over by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor.
  • Go for the Goal: A Champion’s Guide to Winning in Soccer and Life by Mia Hamm.
  • Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg.
  • The Last-Place Sports Poems of Jeremy Bloom: A Collection of Poems About Winning, Losing, and Being a Good Sport (Sometimes) by Gordon Korman.

Bulletin Board

You Said It!

Select quotation from athletes or about sports that focus on competition and teamwork and write them on paper to put on the bulletin board. Decorate with book jackets and other items related to sports. In addition to consulting standard quotation books and online resources, try If Winning Were Easy, Everyone Would Do It: 365 Motivational Quotes for Athletes by Charlie Jones or Sports Quotes.com at www.sports-quotes.com/athletics for additional quotations.

You might include:

  • Baseball is 90% mental, the other half is physical.—Yogi Berra
  • There is no I in TEAM.—Unknown
  • Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.—Mahatma Gandhi
  • If winning isn’t everything, why do they keep score?—Vince Lombardi
  • It’s not where you start but where you finish.—April Heinrichs


Game Time

Set up a display of board games, playing cards, crossword puzzles, dominos, and such.


Demco sells posters that proclaim, “Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.” Purchase one to put up in the library. Decorate the program room or children’s area with blue ribbons and rosettes.


If you are adventurous, serve strawberry Jello™ chilled in a brain-shaped mold. The molds are available from many stores, especially those that cater to Halloween parties, and from many on-line sources, including Halloween Direct. Other “brain” food to serve might include nuts, dried apple slices, and strawberry milk shakes, which are rich in antioxidants and contribute to the functioning of our brains.


Oriental Trading Company sells a variety of inexpensive games that could be used as prizes and incentives. Examples include: Mini Magic Cub Puzzle Key Chains (a game that is like a Rubik’s Cube), assorted wooden games, and magnetic game cards.

Audio Recordings

  • “Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better” on Annie Get Your Gun (Original Broadway Cast) by Irving Berlin, et. al.
  • “The Tortoise and the Hare” on A Question of Balance by the Moody Blues.

Reader’s Theater Scripts

Use this reader’s theater script to tell the story of the tortoise and the hare. This classic fable about competition demonstrates that staying focused on the task results in success.

The Tortoise and the Hare: A Reader’s Theater Script

(Adapted by Jeanette Larson.)


  • Narrator
  • Tortoise
  • Hare
  • Race Official
  • Spectator

NARRATOR: Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, today’s featured event is a foot race. You may think you’ve heard this story before, and maybe you have, but today’s tale is one worth hearing again.

RACE OFFICIAL: The contestants must report to the starting line immediately for the race to begin!

NARRATOR: Once upon a time, there were a tortoise and a hare. The tortoise was slow and careful and he took his time. The hare was very fast and he loved to brag about his speed.

HARE: I’m quick, I’m fast, I’ll be out of here in a flash! Who is foolish enough to race me? Anyone, anyone out there? Who’ll dare to challenge me?

TORTOISE: I’m brave enough. I will race you.

HARE: Brave? How do you think you even have a chance against me? I can race circles around you. By the time you even think about starting to run, I’ll be at the finish line.

TORTOISE: Save your bragging until the race has been won.

HARE: Okay, let’s get going!

RACE OFFICIAL: The course is set. You will race on the path that leads through the woods.

SPECTATOR: Tortoise, I’m rooting for you! Do your best!

TORTOISE: Thanks, pal. I’ll see you at the finish line.

HARE: Get real! The race will be over before it’s begun. Slowpokes never win!

RACE OFFICIAL: You know the rules. First one over the finish line wins. Tortoise, are you ready?

TORTOISE: As ready as I’ll ever be!

RACE OFFICIAL: On your mark, get set, GO!

NARRATOR: The Hare got off to a very quick start. The crowd was cheering as he kicked up the dust and was quickly out of sight. But tortoise had a fan watching the race.

SPECTATOR: Go, Tortoise, go!

TORTOISE: Oh, my. The Hare is really fast. Maybe I shouldn’t have been so quick to race. Now I’m in it and there’s no going back. So, I’ll keep moving ahead.

NARRATOR: The tortoise plodded on. He didn’t lift his head or look around but kept putting one foot in front of the other. Meanwhile, hare was up ahead.

HARE: I’m so far ahead of that tortoise. I think I’ll stop and wait for him to catch up.

NARRATOR: Hare stopped and sat by a tree.

HARE: This is boring. How long do I have to wait for that slowpoke to get a little closer? It will be hours until he catches up so I think I’ll catch a few winks of sleep.

NARRATOR: Tortoise kept going. His animal friends began to cheer.

SPECTATOR: Go, tortoise, go! You can do it! We’re with you all the way!

NARRATOR: The hare kept sleeping. He was snoring and all the while the tortoise was running as quickly as he could.

HARE: (Makes snoring sounds.)

SPECTATOR: Come on tortoise. The finish line is in sight.

NARRATOR: The tortoise passed the hare and was coming up on the finish line when suddenly the hare woke up.

HARE: What’s that noise?

SPECTATOR: Yea, tortoise! Come on buddy, you can do it! You’re almost there!

HARE: Huh? What’s going on? It must be time for me to finish the race.

NARRATOR: But it was too late for the hare. Just as he came around the last turn, the tortoise was crossing the finishing line! All the animals were cheering. And they all turned to the hare and said:

TORTOISE, SPECTATOR, RACE OFFICIAL, AND NARRATOR: (speaking together) Slow and steady wins the race!


Library Hall of Fame


  • Poster paper (16” x 20”)
  • Crayons, markers, or colored pencils


Ask the children to think about what each of them might like to be famous for at some point during their life. Discuss what familiar celebrities are famous for, such as politicians, sports figures, performers, and artists they see in commercials and advertisements. After the kids have thought about some ideas, distribute the paper and crayons. Let each child create their own poster “advertising” their “fame.” If possible, display the posters in the library.

Games and Activities

Bored? Game!

Hold a games day at the library. Provide a variety of simple, fast, easy to learn board and card games, such as Connect Four™, Go Fish, Battleship, etc. Encourage the kids to play several games by providing a coupon that can be “earned” at each game table. The children can then redeem coupons for small prizes.

Trivial Pursuits

Lerner Publications publishes a series of trivia books for various sports. Use some of these, such as Slam Dunk Trivia: Secrets, Statistics, and Little-Known Facts about Basketball by Bruce Adelson or other trivia books in your collection to hold a trivia contest. The Kids Read: Trivia web site at www.kidsreads.com/funstuff/trivia/index.asp also includes trivia for popular children’s books and authors. Prepare a list of trivia questions in advance, based on the ages and interests of the kids who attend your programs. Write the questions on a piece of paper. Photocopy a sheet for each child. Give the children or teams 20 minutes to find the answers to as many questions as they can.

Guest Speakers

Invite a yo-yo expert to give a demonstration and teach the children how to do some fancy yo-yo tricks. Alternatively, see if someone can set up a domino-toppling exhibition. The world record for toppling is 303,621 out of 303,628, set on August 18, 2003. Can your library break the record?


  • Get a Clue! (95 minutes)
  • Jumanji. (104 minutes)
  • The Mighty Pawns. (58 minutes)
  • Peck of Peppers. (30 minutes)


  • Jeopardy.
  • Learn to Play Chess with Fritz and Chester 2: Chess in the Black Castle.

Web Sites

Guinness World Records
Search for world records or browse through subject areas. The sports section has something for everyone and Kid’s Zone challenges kids to break a few records of their own.

Java Checkers
Play checkers on-line, setting your skill level and playing against the computer.

Kids Domain
From mindless fun to serious challenges, this site offers a wide range of games, including a number of sports-themed games.

Kids Read: Trivia
This site provides trivia questions for a number of popular children’s books or series such as Harry Potter, Lemony Snicket, and Captain Underpants.

Professional Resources

  • Games Magazine Junior Kids’ Big Book of Games by Karen C. Anderson.
  • If Winning Were Easy, Everyone Would Do It: 365 Motivational Quotes for Athletes by Charlie Jones.
  • Slam Dunk Trivia: Secrets, Statistics, and Little-Known Facts about Basketball by Bruce Adelson.
This library supplier sells posters to inspire readers.

Halloween Direct
Purchase gelatin molds shaped like body parts from this on-line retailer.

Maze Guy: Domino Toppling
An aficionado provides instructions and information on the hobby of domino toppling.

Oriental Trading Company
Purchase small games and puzzles.

Sports Quotes.com
Funny, inspirational, and entertaining quotes from athletes are arranged by the type of sport.


Texas Reading Club 2006 Programming Manual / Reading: The Sport of Champions!

Published by the Library Development Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Page last modified: June 14, 2011