Nothing but Trouble: The Story of Althea Gibson

Nothing but Trouble: The Story of Althea Gibson is a good book to teach children about encouragement.  Althea is well known for being the first African-American tennis player to break the color barrier in 1949.  From the early years of her life, her family referred to her as “nothing but trouble.” They said Althea was a “wild tomboy” and that she loved sports.  She would play basketball late into the night, not return from recess at school and roam the streets of Harlem, New York.  Today, Althea would probably be considered a troubled child, but she turned out to be the number one ranked female tennis player in the world.

Althea’s story is about encouragement, because she almost gave up the game of tennis. In 1950, she did not do well in some tournaments.  The media wrote that she was a “disappointment.”  African-American supporters were losing hope for her, and she even started losing confidence in herself.  Then Sydney Llewellyn, a friend and tennis coach, persuaded Althea to continue playing the game. Llewellyn encouraged Althea to play like a champion, and she did.  His coaching led to her winning world championships in France and England.

Many people helped Althea in her tennis career, and she believed in giving back to help children pursue their dreams in tennis and golf.  She created The Althea Gibson Foundation, and more information can be found on her website.

--Deborah P. Turner, Children’s Librarian