Playing Happy Families: Parent-Kid Sporting Tales

Playing Happy Families: Parent-Kid Sporting Tales

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If your resolution for 2013 is to spend more time with your family, you might want to pick up a ball or schedule a sports outing. Perhaps it’s a road trip, or maybe you take to the high seas; it could be a simple game of catch, or a pair of tickets to the big game: Parents have bonded with their offspring through sport and travel since time immemorial. But, take heed: These books about parent-kid time are offered as both celebration and warning, since one day they’re toddling into the surf and the next, they’re patrolling the outfield in a fast-pitch softball game. As the books suggest, play early and often.

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    1. Father’s Day

    Buzz Bissinger is best known for “Friday Night Lights,” his odyssey following an Odessa, Tex. high school football team, but his latest book tackles new territory. “Father’s Day: A Journey into the Mind and Heart of My Extraordinary Son” chronicles a road trip the author and his mentally challenged, savant-like 24-year-old son took, traveling from Philadelphia to Los Angeles, visiting their former homes and learning to understand each other.

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    2. Up

    Patricia Ellis Herr, a Harvard-trained anthropologist who home-schools her two children, recounts climbing New Hampshire’s 48 tallest mountains with her daughter, Alex. The trips are about more than “peakbagging;” they serve as a way for Herr to transfer the love of nature she and her husband share to their kids.

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    3. Sailing Around the World

    Experienced skipper Guy Bernardin dreamed of following in the wake of Joshua Slocum, the first man to circumnavigate the globe by himself. Instead of going solo, however, Bernardin brings his wife, Annick, and son, Briac. They dodge hurricanes, see the world and find adventure while experiencing an unforgettable journey.

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    4. Fathers Playing Catch with Sons

    Donald Hall focuses on America’s pastime, taking readers from spring training to the hallowed ground of Fenway Park, but he also brings them to the Boston Garden, football fields and ping pong tables across the country. The volume collects the poet and essayist’s work, presenting a portrait that highlights the full range of the country’s sporting landscape.

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    5. Best Seat in the House

    Christine Brennan’s memoir reveals how she went from a girl playing sports with the jocks in Toledo, Ohio, to becoming one of the most famous female sports columnists in the country. Her father’s guidance and steady encouragement plays a key role in the life of the woman who would break into the largely male world of sports journalism at the Miami Herald and the Washington Post, among others.

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    6. Devoted

    Rick Hoyt wanted to participate in a charity race, but he couldn’t because he was quadriplegic. His dedicated father, Dick, had never run before, but he started training and pushed his son to the finish. The father-son team didn’t stop with one race, completing more than a thousand, including multiple marathons and triathlons.

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