Becoming Babe Ruth

Becoming Babe Ruth by Matt Tavares is a nominee for the 2014-15 South Carolina Picture Book Award.

As a lifelong baseball fan, I’ve always been fascinated with Babe Ruth (even if he did play for the Red Sox and the Yankees). I haven’t, however, really thought about what made Babe Ruth into the greatest baseball player who ever lived. At least, not until now. Matt Tavares’ wonderful picture book, Becoming Babe Ruth, takes a look at what turned a boy into a legend.

George Herman Ruth definitely didn’t start out as a success story. At the age of seven, this young trouble-maker was sent to a reform school in his hometown of Baltimore. He, along with 800 other boys, attended Saint Mary’s Industrial School for Boys, a strict school where they lived, worked, and learned a bit about discipline.

Saint Mary’s wasn’t all bad, though. It was here that George Ruth began playing baseball. With the guidance of Brother Matthias, this young man developed into a world-class baseball player, and he could do it all. He could hit, run, and pitch. And pretty soon, he attracted some notice. In 1914, George Ruth was offered a contract with the Baltimore Orioles. Shortly after he started playing, he was given the nickname Babe Ruth.

Babe Ruth didn’t stay in Baltimore for long. He went on to play with the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees, but he never forgot where he came from. He knew that Saint Mary’s and Brother Matthias made him the man he was, and he did everything he could to give back to them.

Becoming Babe Ruth is an inspirational story about an American legend. It shows readers young and old the importance of honoring one’s past and the path taken to success. None of us gets through life alone, and remembering one’s roots and those who helped us along the way is vital.

I know this book will be extremely popular with my students. (Baseball is life for many of them.) Becoming Babe Ruth is a welcome addition to any school, public, or classroom library. Its message transcends age and appeals to the baseball fan in all of us.

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