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Blog - For Parents - Chess

The 5 Best Chess Books for Kids

Feb. 8, 2021

bot playing chess

By now, you have probably read all about the best online resources for teaching your kids to play chess, as we mentioned many reputable sources for learning digitally in previous articles. While online tools are innovative and reasonably effective, if you’re like many parents, you may also understand the value of learning the good old-fashioned way: with books!

Even if your child is learning how to play chess by utilizing one or more of the many online programs and puzzles, it’s always a good idea to vary a child’s learning by incorporating multiple methods and strategies to ensure that students internalize lessons and master concepts. Educators know that children learn in a variety of ways, and sometimes learning with a great book in hand work helps to solidify knowledge and understanding. 

So, if a parent is looking for the best chess books for kids, where can they begin? Keep reading as we review some of the top choices, most of which are used by educators and written by the most experienced and successful chess masters in the game.

Your Search Stops Here: The Ultimate Chess Books for Children

Despite the wealth of online resources available, there’s no shortage of classic tried and trusted books for kids to tackle to learn chess. Try some of the following titles to supplement your child’s lessons:

1. Chess Tactics Workbook, by Al Woolum

The key to becoming a great chess player ultimately comes down to understanding—and achieving—checkmate. Once kids master the basics, such as learning the game pieces and the directions in which they move, it’s time to start learning endgame strategies.

Written by an educator, The Chess Tactics Workbook is a favorite resource of many chess teachers. This title is best for beginners aged 10 and up, and it takes children from the basics to winning the game. It presents over 800 puzzle problems that are presented in a highly structured and easy-to-understand way. If you’re looking for a workbook that students can write in and use in the classroom setting, this book is a great choice!

2. Books by Grandmaster Murray Chandler

As a FIDE grandmaster player with an impressive resume, Murray Chandler boasts a large repertoire of highly respected books to his name. Take a close look at the following books and pick those that might best fit your learner’s needs:

Chandler is perhaps best known this renowned title, How to Beat Your Dad at Chess. This book is great for older elementary kids, but adults will appreciate it, too! This book makes improving one’s chess game both easy and fun and is filled with advice and information on approaching the game confidently. Find ideas for checkmating, and so much more in this exciting read, that aptly mentions, “including the 50 deadly checkmates”.

Once your beginner has mastered the pieces and beginning moves, move on to bigger and better strategies to improve your child’s gameplay. This title offers 50 “tricky tactics” to best opponents with during a game. Go ahead and get out the chess set and give all tactics a try! Each are packed with illustrations and engaging explanation to give your little learner the moves needed to surprise opponents and win games!

Looking for a title specifically written for early elementary students? Obviously, our littlest learners need simplified language, large type, and plenty of pictures! Chess for Children is a great beginner chess book for learners as young as 5! This book includes amusing stories that are meant to draw young children’s interest, and chess instruction begins with the very basics, such as setting up the board, rules, and moving pieces.

This title is an extraordinary follow-up to the previously mentioned book, Chess for Children. This is a book of tough puzzles that will challenge young minds as they grow their blossoming chess skills. What’s great is that this book has something for everyone! Each puzzle is categorized so that readers can easily navigate to types that fit the tactic or concept they are trying to master. 

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girls playing chess

3. Jeff Coakley’s Winning Resources

Jeff Coakley is one of Canada’s best chess coaches and have taught students for over two decades! Many of his students have gone on to be award-winning champions, and Coakley is well-known in the Canadian chess world as he is the editor of Scholar’s Mate magazine, which is written exclusively for kids!

Don’t overlook the following titles to see how they might fit into your child’s lessons and repertoire:

Geared towards children from ages 7 through 13, this book contains lively illustrations that kids will love, all while they learn how play the game. It covers the basis, starting with rules, and also goes into more advanced strategies for achieving checkmate.

A wonderful complement to the book listed above, Winning Chess Puzzles for Kids provides kids with a variety of puzzles to help students practice and demonstrate the concepts they’ve learned. Use this workbook as a compliment to Coakley’s other titles to form a complete course!

Here’s another entertaining and effective title that will help your little learner on his or her way to becoming a chess master! This book is geared towards more advanced students who have already begun to play and is great for assigning students extra practice to hone their game.

Chess is a game that even the experts continue to refine throughout their lives, so there are never enough resources available for players of all ages! Offer this workbook to give learners extra practice and new challenges. This title is a follow up to the above title, Winning Chess Puzzles for Kids. Ideally, parents and teachers should task children with working through the previous books first, offering this one as they continue their studies.

4. Chess for Kids, by Michael Basman

An author, International Master, and British chess player, Michael Basman provides a comprehensive title for kids that is complete with thorough explanations and kid-friendly illustrations. This book teaches essential concepts of the games, and so much more. Like many of the above books, this one is also entertaining and engaging to motivate young players!

5. Learn Chess the Right Way, by Grandmaster Susan Polgar

When studying the famous grandmasters, it might become noticeable that most of the renowned players of the game are men. But it’s important for our youngest players to learn that chess isn’t just for boys! Among the high ranks of male masters, there are prominent female players from across the globe, one of the most famous being Susan Polgar, along with her sisters Judit and Sofia.

Susan Polgar was seen as a young chess prodigy early in her life and went on to become the very first female grandmaster through tournament play, and qualified to compete with her male counterparts, though she was not allowed to do so in 1986 all because chess has widely been seen and played as a male sport.

Inspire your little learners by sharing Polgar’s experiences and story, while also studying her books! Polgar’s book, Learn Chess the Right Way is written for advanced beginners, ages 10 and up, and includes a series of titles that should be completed in order. This series is packed with lessons over tactics and strategies intended to improve a player’s mastery for kids who are serious about improving their gameplay. It also features much more descriptive explanation than other titles on our list and is complete with helpful diagrams for students to study. Consider this series to take your child’s skills up a few notches!

While there are plenty of free resources online to help your child learn to play and master chess, nothing can replace the level and quality of learning a child can gain from reading and studying books! With options ranging from complete lessons and explanations, all the way to workbooks filled with puzzles and exercises, the titles above could round out your child’s curriculum while also giving opportunities for reading and learning from texts. Since tournaments are physical activities in which players compete in person using real live game boards, it makes sense that kids are offered at least a few hands-on resources.

Feel free to check out the books listed above and be sure to talk about the authors as role models of the game from whom they can glean important strategies and concepts. Immerse your child in the world of chess using a variety of learning tools that take advantage of not only online digital tools, but also tried and true classics, such as the books mentioned here. Don’t forget: Kids Academy also offers interactive worksheets and practice through our Chess Course. Vary your child’s learning and watch as your he or she blossoms into a master chess player in no time!

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