A Sporting Chance: How Ludwig Guttmann Created the Paralympic Games – Lori Alexander and Allen Drummond

A Sporting Chance: How Paralympics Founder Ludwig Guttmann Saved Lives with Sports by Lori Alexander, Allan Drummond
Published by Houghton Mifflin on April 1, 2020
Genres: Children's, Children's Educational
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Telling the inspiring human story behind the creation of the Paralympics, this young readers biography artfully combines archival photos, full-color illustrations, and a riveting narrative to honor the life of Ludwig Guttmann, whose work profoundly changed so many lives.

Dedicating his life to helping patients labeled “incurables,” Ludwig Guttmann fought for the rights of paraplegics to live a full life. The young doctor believed—and eventually proved—that physical movement is key to healing, a discovery that led him to create the first Paralympic Games.

Told with moving text and lively illustrations, and featuring the life stories of athletes from the Paralympic Games Ludwig helped create, this story of the man who saved lives through sports will inspire readers of all backgrounds.

A Sporting Chance tells the inspiring story of Ludwig Guttmann, the founder of the Paralympics. He was a German-Jewish doctor who escaped to England before WWII, and after years of patient care and research, he developed life-saving treatment techniques for paralytics. As many paralyzed men returned from war, he helped them survive, regain their will to live, and recover basic skills through rehabilitative therapies. He also began to host sports events to help his patients redevelop strength and enjoy recreation. This led to the creation of the Paralympic Games. I enjoyed reading this incredible story, and never would have imagined that one man could accomplish so much in this field.

This is a wonderful historical source. Even though the simple sentences and cartoon illustrations make it accessible to the target middle grade audience, it is well-researched and can appeal to all ages. The author shares lots of photographic reproductions, provides thorough citations, and includes a detailed timeline in the back, making this is a great choice for both families and schools. I especially appreciate how it shows the intersection between major historical events and changing societal views towards the disabled.

At the end A Sporting Chance, the authors share photographs and short bios of different Paralympic victors from throughout the years, providing examples of how people with a range of different disabilities can compete in sports. This shows how greatly Guttmann’s legacy has affected people even outside of his medical field, and it is joyful and inspiring, showing that it is possible to overcome physical limitations and disruptive tragedies to still enjoy life. This book celebrates the value of human life, and gives credit to the pioneer in this field while also honoring the accomplishments of specific athletes.