Martial Arts Books for Kids

Lots of kids take karate or taekwondo classes after school. How about connecting their love for the martial arts and movement with reading? Here’s a starter list of books that might get your little karate kid to turn into a ninja reader, too.

Tai Chi for Kids: Move with the Animals by Stuart Alve Olson and Gregory Crawford (2001), 4-8 year olds, ISBN: 978-1879181656
This picture book uses kids’ natural love for imitating animals to teach basic tai chi moves. Good for kids and parents to play and learn together.

Beautiful Warrior: The Legend of the Nun’s Kung Fu by Emily Arnold McCully
ISBN: 0590374877, Ages 4-8
The story of a legendary female Kung Fu master, Young Wu Mei, is a tomboy not happy with the “idle pastimes” expected of girls. She studies traditional lessons with tutors and Kung Fu with the boys, and later enters a monastery where she becomes a Buddhist nun. Wu Mei is soon revered for both her spiritual guidance as well as her martial arts skills. In fact, her style of Kung Fu is still practiced today. Girls will especially cotton to Wu Mei’s spunk, and budding martial artists will find much inspiration here. (Review from

Karate Hour by Carol Nevius, Bill Thomson, 2004
Beautiful rhyming picture book that captures kids attention. Simple, but meaningful text that demonstrates all the parts of a karate class.

Facing The Double-Edged Sword: Art Of Karate For Young People by Terrence Webster-Doyle, 1999, Ages 9 – 12
Doyle takes the “rambo” mentality out of karate and focuses on the non-violent aspect of conflict resolution. Good read-with me book.

Fa Mulan : The Story of a Woman Warrior by Robert D. San Souci, Illustrated by Jean and Mou-Sien Tseng,  ISBN: 0786803460, Ages 5 to 9
The story, in picture-book format, of the real-life Mulan, the girl who goes to battle dressed as a man to save her family.

Judo by Paul Mason (Know Your Sport Series)
ISBN 978-1-59771-151-7 Ages Well-organized and easy-to-follow instructions, focusing on rules, clothing, specific skills, and competitions. For older kids (9 – up).

Karate for Kids (Martial Arts for Kids series) by Robin L. Rielly & Stephanie Tok
ISBN-13: 978-0804835343 (2004) 48 pages , Ages 9 – 12
This and the whole series of martial arts for kids books are how-to books in the various arts (Kung Fu, Tai Chi, and Taekwondo) with notes to parents included.

The Karate Class Mystery (Invisible Inc. series No. 5; Hello, Reader! Level 4) by Elizabeth Levy, for ages 7 – 10
Fictional mystery with three elementary school friends who try to discover who has stolen Justin’s karate belt? Addresses disablities and personal responsibility.

Julie Black Belt: The Kung Fu Chronicles by Oliver Chin, illustrated by Charlene Chua  ISBN-13: 978-1597020091 (2008)
Julie enrolls in kung fu class only to find out that it isn’t that easy to get a black belt. Great illustrations.

The Peaceful Way: A Children’s Guide to the Traditions of the Martial Arts by Claudio Iedwab & Roxanne Standefer
ISBN-13: 978-0892819294, 2001,  112 pages, Ages 8 – 12
Focuses on martial arts as a way to resolve conflict, rather than to fight. Emphasizes respect and etiquette.

The Five Ancestors Series by Jeff Stone (for ages 9 – 12)
Each of these books (there are 7 so far – Tiger, Monkey, Crane, Snake, Eagle, Mouse, Dragon) chronicles the life of a different young Chinese monk who has survived the destruction of his/her home and are now journeying through life uncovering their past and learning about themselves, overcoming great odds and challenges, even as they change others hearts and minds in search of the secret scrolls. Random House has a nice activities page to go with this series.


About Deb Hanson

Always a endless seeker... educator, biologist, dreamer, innovator, mom, wife... Located in Portland, OR.
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One Response to Martial Arts Books for Kids

  1. Pingback: Florida Martial Artists Empower Kids with Reading « Real Men Read With Kids

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