California Nouns: People, Places, and Things
Serena and Venus Williams
If you’ve visited the children’s nonfiction sports section lately, you may have noticed a growing number of picture book biographies of Compton’s own Venus and Serena Williams. But which one(s) should you and your little one check out? From tales of sisterly love to the highs and lows of competition, let this blog post be your guide to some of the best.
Sisters provides a good overview of Serena and Venus’ life, especially focusing on their resiliency and ability to overcome adversity—whether that be socio-economic, racial or physical. What makes it especially heartwarming, though, is its emphasis on their sisterly bond through it all. With warm and engaging illustrations, make this your pick if you want to emphasize positive sibling relationships. Recommended for ages 3+.
Fun fact: Venus Williams fought for equal pay for women players at Wimbledon.
The more you learn about the Williams sisters, the more you understand how important family is to them. Sisters and Champions really highlights how much their father Richard encouraged and supported them early on, even while facing derision and racism. The soft, almost photorealistic illustrations lend the book a lot of warmth. Make this your pick if you’re interested in strong father-daughter relationships and Black Girl Magic. Recommended for ages 4+.
Fun fact: Serena’s 23 total Grand Slam singles titles are the most for both women and men during the open era.
If you read one picture book about the early life of Venus and Serena Williams, this is probably your best bet. Game Changers does an excellent and thorough job detailing their childhood, training and early wins. What stands out most, however, might just be the excellent collage illustrations, which give readers a sense of motion and growth, while also providing lots of little details to discover. Make this your pick if you’re interested in the sisters’ early life. Recommended for ages 4+.
Fun fact: In 2009, Venus and Serena became minority owners of the Miami Dolphins. This made the sisters the first African-American women to obtain ownership in an NFL franchise.
While Game Changers is a strong choice for learning about the sisters’ early lives, Game, Set, Sisters! covers their adulthood accomplishments on and off the court just as excellently. Readers learn of their early wins, but also the challenges they faced—like the untimely death of a sister and unexpected illness. Ultimately, though, these challenges allowed them to grow and give back to Compton, the community they grew up in. Make this your pick if you want to learn more about the sisters’ adulthood and community work. Recommended for ages 4+.
Fun fact: Venus has earned college degrees in fashion and business.
Being the youngest sibling can be tough, especially when your older siblings are stars. This book details the early years of the Williams sisters and their family, but focuses most on Serena, the youngest sister. Serena loved being the center of attention, and yearned to compete in tournaments with her sister, even when her dad told her she was too young. How will she prove herself? Make this your pick for youngest siblings yearning to be seen. Recommended for ages 8+.
Fun fact: In addition to English, Serena also speaks conversational French and knows some Spanish and Italian.