February 04, 2023

Clarke grad pens children’s books ‘Sports for Littles’

It all started when Joe Lampe was looking for a specific type of book to read to his young son, Chase.

“Anyone who knows the Lampe family knows we’re a bunch of athletes,” said Lampe, who had no trouble finding books about trucks, animals, letters and feelings, but hardly any that focused on sports.

Lampe decided to solve his dilemma, and sat down to write and illustrate his own sports-centric children’s book, which evolved into many books.


“I never thought [writing] was something that I would do, until I had a specific need,” said Lampe, who created the series ‘Sports for Littles.’

The first volume of ‘Sports for Littles’ published on Oct. 22 has eight books that each focus on a different major sport - football, basketball, baseball/softball, tennis, soccer, volleyball, golf and hockey.

In a description about the series on Amazon:

" ‘Sports for Littles’ is a series that promotes a healthy, active lifestyle for young kids through simplified sports. This series was written for kids of ages 2-6 – whether they’re learning to play sports, learning to read, or just like looking at colorful pictures!

All books in the ‘Sports for Littles’ series were developed in consultation with a childhood literacy consultant, an early childhood learning specialist, a pediatrician, and a pediatric occupational therapist.”

Lampe is working on illustrating a second volume of ‘Sports for Littles,’ which will cover track and field, cross country, swimming, skiing, gymnastics, and wrestling; one book about lacrosse published on Nov. 28.

Writing process and message

With a full-time job and busy life, Lampe fits in writing where he can. He estimates it takes a day or two to actually write the material, which features a rhyming scheme involving sports terms.

His first book about baseball/softball, took him the longest to illustrate, because he was starting with a blank slate.

“Once I have characters and a color palette…I can move bodies in different positions...and the next one goes faster,” said Lampe.

Now, it takes about three or four days to illustrate a book. For the illustration, Lampe stated that he’s “no artist,” but is very good at learning different types of software and making a picture in his head translate onto a page.

While each book covers a different sport, Lampe said that overall, the goal is to introduce the basics of the sports to young kids, including the shapes and colors of the ball or equipment, the object of the game, what they’re supposed to do, and what to expect when if they start that sport.

“In hockey, you’re going to fall down. It’s a very real part that little kids are going to experience when they start playing hockey,” said Lampe as an example.

When it comes to writing more in the future, Lampe is looking into subject matters other than just sports.

“Sports can take me a really long way, but I have other aspirations, want to write about different subjects…I’m starting smaller; if it takes me somewhere else, great,” said Lampe, who would like to write such books as ‘Music for Littles,’ ‘Science for Littles,’ and ‘Math for Littles.’

Where to buy

Self-publishing, Lampe’s books are available on Amazon, in either paperback form or for Kindle, and can be found by typing ‘Joe Lampe’ in the search bar. He can also be found on TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube under Blue Wagon Books.

Lampe said he chose to go the self-publishing route so as not to be stuck doing a particular kind of writing, allowing him to branch out should he want to.

So far, Lampe said the response to his books has been very supportive and encouraging. He initially started sharing the books and ideas with friends and family before branching out to social media.

“Everyone loved the idea, loved the stories, the pictures, and they want more,” said Lampe.

About the author

Lampe, son of Brad and Amy Lampe of Osceola, graduated from Clarke Community Schools in 2010. He attended St. John’s University in Minneapolis where he majored in math. He then went to the University of Minnesota for mechanical engineering, and is currently in school at the University of St. Thomas working on his MBA. He works as a production manager at a small optical manufacturing company in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.) area.

Lampe and wife Kayla are parents to 2.5 year old Chase, and are currently expecting their second child, due in spring 2023.

Candra Brooks

A native of rural Union County, Candra holds a Bachelor's Degree in English from Simpson College and an Associate's Degree in Accounting from SWCC. She has been at the Osceola newspaper since October 2013, working as office manager before transitioning to the newsroom in spring 2022.