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Martial Arts: Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best children's books about martial arts?

Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to martial arts. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about martial arts.

Our list includes board books, picture books, and chapter books. Board books are best for babies and toddlers from ages newborn to 2 or 3. Picture books are generally great options for toddlers and for preschool and kindergarten age children. Picture books are especially enjoyable for adults to read aloud with young kids. The chapter books on our list are generally best for elementary through early middle school age tween kids. You can filter to sort by the best book type for your kid.

When it comes to children’s stories about martial arts, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like Ninja Bunny to popular sellers like The Three Ninja Pigs to some of our favorite hidden gems like Ninja Red Riding Hood.

We hope this list of kids books about martial arts can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book! As you explore the list, please comment below to let us know what books you would add.

Ninja Red Riding Hood
Written by Corey Rosen Schwartz & illustrated by Dan Santat
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Companion to the hit The Three Ninja Pigs, this fractured fairy tale is a sure-fire storytime hit.

Wolf just can’t catch a break! Ever since the three little pigs started teaching everyone Ninja skills, huffing and puffing just hasn’t been enough to scare up a good meal.

His craving for meat sends Wolf to classes at the dojo, and soon he’s ready to try out his new moves. A little girl and her tiny granny should be easy targets—right?

Not if Little Red has anything to say about it! Kiya!

Ninja Bunny
Written & illustrated by Jennifer Gray Olson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

How to be a SUPER AWESOME NINJA: · Rule #1. You must always work alone. · Rule #2. You must be super sneaky, especially in the most dangerous of situations. · Rule #3. A super awesome ninja must: possess incredible strength, achieve invisibility, master the skill of climbing, gain the ability to fly. . . .

Our little bunny is ready to embark on his path to becoming a ninja. But is he cut out for the ninja life? Especially if it means leaving his friends behind?

Ninja Baby
Written by David Zeltser & illustrated by Diane Goode
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

From the day she was born, Nina was a ninja baby. She obliterated her applesauce. She concealed herself at bath time. And she was training herself in advanced infiltration (of movie night). Nina wants to do everything by herself, until the day her parents bring home a Kung Fu Master (a baby brother). Now with a sibling, Nina will face the one thing she cannot do alone: be part of a family. With verve and humor, David Zeltser and Diane Goode tell the story of an unusually gifted child, and the family that is more than a match for her.

The Three Ninja Pigs
Written by Corey Rosen Schwartz & illustrated by Dan Santat
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Practice makes perfect in this kick-butt fractured fairy tale.

Why does this wolf think he can come to town and blow all the houses down? These three little pigs just aren’t going to take it from that bully anymore! The first starts aikido lessons—he’ll make mincemeat out of that wolf! His brother learns a little jujitsu–he’ll chop that guy to pieces!

But when the wolf actually appears, it turs out these two pigs aren’t quite ready after all. Good thing their sister has been training every day to master some serious karate moves that save the day. KIYA!

Corey Rosen Schwartz serves up a fun combination of smart-aleck dialogue and tongue-in-cheek rhymes that’ll have kids howling, and rising star Dan Santat’s spunky illustrations are sure to pack a punch!

Bunjitsu Bunny Jumps to the Moon
Written by John Himmelman
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 6-8

Isabel is the best bunjitsu artist in her class. She can throw farther, kick higher, and hit harder than anybunny else. But her strongest weapon is her mind! This third Bunjitsu Bunny book follows Isabel as she makes friends, faces her fears, and more!

  • My Life as a Ninja - Book 6 in the bestselling My Life series! Derek Fallon has expanded his taste in cartoons to the world of manga and anime. Together with his friends Carly, Matt, and Umberto, Derek has fun learning about all the cool aspects of ninja culture. When someone starts vandalizing their school with graffiti of a mischievous troll-like figure, these ninjas-in-training are convinced they’ll be able to crack the case. But it turns out that being a ninja is a lot more work than they thought, and this adventure brings about new opportunities for Derek to embarrass himself. For once, can he be the hero that saves the day? A Christy Ottaviano Book

  • Twelve Rounds to Glory - A brief biography in verse of boxer Muhammad Ali.

  • Samurai Scarecrow - It is Halloween, and Yukio is excited to celebrate! But whatever Yukio does, his younger sister Kashi follows. When Yukio carves a pumpkin, Kashi carves a similar one. When Yukio maps out his trick-or-treat route, Kashi maps the same one. But when Kashi goes too far, Yukio says some things he doesn’t really mean.

  • Bunjitsu Bunny vs. Bunjitsu Bunny - The further adventures of Isabel the Bunjitsu Bunny, packed with action and Zen-inspired wisdom—a fun chapter book with two color illustrations throughout Isabel is the best bunjitsu artist in her class. She can throw farther, kick higher, and hit harder than anybunny else. But her strongest weapon is her mind. Bunjitsu Bunny vs. Bunjitsu Bunny, the fourth book in this series by John Himmelman, follows Isabel as she makes friends, faces her fears, and fights her toughest opponent yet—herself! Read the whole Bunjitsu Bunny series: Tales of Bunjitsu Bunny Bunjitsu Bunny’s Best Move Bunjitsu Bunny Jumps to the Moon Bunjitsu Bunny vs. Bunjitsu Bunny Praise for Bunjitsu Bunny Jumps to the Moon: “Isabel does a good job of approaching every challenge with spunk and determination, and manages to do the right things under the circumstances. . . . As part of the Bunjitsu Bunny series, this book is appropriate for children who are beginning to read chapter books, and the stories are fun to read aloud to younger children.” —Childrens Literature Praise for Tales of Bunjitsu Bunny: “Cleverly wrapped in an entertaining package, the zen-type morals are edifying but not preachy and serve to genuinely enrich the stories.” —The Horn Book, starred review “A series of Zen lessons touched with gentle humor.” —Kirkus Reviews “Delightful . . . reminiscent of Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad stories or Jon Muth’s ever-popular Zen Shorts.” —School Library Journal

Knockout
Written & illustrated by K. A. Holt
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-14

Levi just wants to be treated like a typical kid. As a baby, he had a serious disease that caused him respiratory issues. He’s fine now, but his mom and overprotective brother still think of him as damaged, and his schoolmates see him as the same class clown he’s always been. He feels stuck. So when his dad—divorced from his mom—suggests he take up boxing, he falls in love with the sport. And when he finds out about a school with a killer boxing team and a free-study curriculum, it feels like he’s found a ticket to a new Levi. But how can he tell his mom about boxing? And how can he convince his family to set him free?

The Karate Kid
Written & illustrated by Kim Smith
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

When The Karate Kid appeared in theaters in 1984, its heartwarming story of an unlikely friendship between a bullied boy and his karate teacher won over audiences and inspired children across America to take up martial arts. Now this beloved film is reimagined as a Pop Classics picture book, with Kim Smith’s bright and kid-friendly illustrations capturing all of the story’s iconic moments. Young Daniel moves to a new town and becomes the target of bullies from the local karate dojo Cobra Kai. Hoping to win the upcoming karate tournament, Daniel begs his neighbor Mr. Miyagi to help him train. Mr. Miyagi reluctantly agrees. But he becomes more than just Daniel’s sensei by teaching him lessons about patience, balance, and hard work along the way. This timeless story about finding inner strength will enchant children, their parents, and anyone who has ever had that one special teacher.

Stink and the Ultimate Thumb-Wrestling Smackdown
Written by Megan McDonald & illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

Stink needs a sport, fast! Can his alter-ego, Shark Hammersmash, wrestle a win at thumb wars? Or will a perfect karate kick lead him to victory? (Ages 5-8) Stink Moody, family brain, brings home a report card that isn’t perfect? Yikes! Time for him to get into fighting shape and beat back that U for Unsatisfactory in gym! A scan of the sports channel leads to a knock-out find: world-class thumb wrestling, with tricky moves like Snake in the Grass and Santa’s Little Helper (no equipment needed, save for a tiny terrifying mask to sit on your thumb). But when Mom and Dad are not wowed, Stink gets another idea: he’ll kick and punch his way to a yellow belt with the help of a Dragon Master, a seeing-eye Moose, and a mind as still as a pond. Can you say Crouching Tiger, Hidden Thumb? Hee-ya! Ha! Ha! Ha!

A Nation's Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis
Written by Matt De La Pena & illustrated by Kadir Nelson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-8

On the eve of World War II, African American boxer Joe Louis fought German Max Schmeling in a bout that had more at stake than just the world heavyweight title; for much of America their fight came to represent America’s war with Germany. This elegant and powerful picture book biography centers around the historic fight in which Black and White America were able to put aside prejudice and come together to celebrate our nation’s ideals.

Eight Times Up
Written & illustrated by John Corr
picture book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

Ever since his mom left, Riley has been a mess. He feels nervous all the time. His heart pounds, his neck is tight, and he can’t seem to turn off his brain. His dad signs him up for aikido, hoping it will help. In the dojo, Riley meets boys who are much rougher than he is and a girl who is tougher than all the rest of them put together. For Wafaa, aikido is not her first choice. She was disqualified from competing in judo for wearing a hijab. From the first time she steps on the mat, it’s clear she is far more skilled than anyone expected. Through the teachings of their sensei, Riley and his classmates come to understand that aikido is not about winning or losing or about being perfect. Sensei shows them how to tap into their inner strength and find their place in the universe.

  • Sumokitty - A hungry cat gets a job hunting mice at a sumo training center (heya), but once the mice are gone he continues to stuff himself until he is too fat to chase the mice that have returned—so he decides to train with the sumo wrestlers, and SumoKitty becomes a scourge of mice and an inspiration to the wrestlers.

  • Let's Go to Taekwondo! - Yoomi wants a yellow belt. But she’s afraid to break the board. Grandma to the rescue! Yoomi and her friends are ready to take on the test for their yellow belts in taekwondo. But Yoomi is afraid to break a board. Meanwhile, Grandma is struggling to learn something new, too. But Yoomi and Grandma encourage and inspire each other. Yoomi discovers how, with persistence, focus, deep breathing, and above all, a loving Grandma, even the toughest challenges can be overcome. This companion to No Kimchi for Me emphasizes self-confidence, determination, and the value of family. Backmatter about taekwondo, including some Korean vocabulary, is included. A Junior Library Guild Selection

  • Black Belt Bunny - From the author of the bestselling Ladybug Girl series, this hilarious, empowering picture book about a little black-belt who faces a new challenge is perfect for fans of The Three Ninja Pigs, The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog, and I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato Black Belt Bunny is fast and strong and has seriously awesome moves—from front-kicks to back-flips to air-chops. Then he’s faced with something new, something every bunny must learn, something he might not be as good at: He has to make . . . a salad. Black Belt Bunny tries to escape. He even disguises himself with a fake mustache. But when he finally hops to it, he discovers that his seriously awesome moves come in pretty handy, and that—in a funny twist that puts the narrator in the hot seat—he isn’t the only one who has to try new things.

  • Julie Black Belt - The long-anticipated sequel is here! In this second story, Julie continues her lessons, but she also learns the importance of friendship and the right attitude. Julie proudly wears her yellow belt and is eager to attain her next rank: orange! Inspired by the movie star Brandy Wu, Julie now meets a new kid in her class…but is he better than her? Julie grapples with unexpected challenges but another mentor enters the picture too. With some wise and helpful advice, can Julie earn her own Belt of Fire? - - - “My daughter was happy to see this as she too is a little ball of energy and there aren’t many English books with Asian girl characters like her! The comic book style fits well with the high energy character and Chua’s illustrations are great fun. We can’t wait for the next Julie Black Belt book!” - Perogies & Gyoza

Hensel and Gretel, Ninja Chicks
Written by Rebecca Gomez and Corey Rosen Schwartz & illustrated by Dan Santat
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

New from the team behind The Three Ninja Pigs and Ninja Red Riding Hood

These ninja chicks are anything but chicken!

When Hensel and Gretel’s dad gets snatched by a fox, the sisters put their ninja skills to work to track him down before he can be stir-fried.

But are these two little chicks ready to take on a dark tangled forest, a tricky house made of corn bread, and an even trickier fox?

This plucky pair isn’t giving up without a fight! Kiya!

Catkwondo
Written by Lisl H. Detlefsen & illustrated by Erin Hunting
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

Kitten wants to a break a board, and she wants to do it now. But Tae Kwon Do is not easy. Kitten must focus. She must practice. And above all, she must be patient. Will Kitten’s determination and dedication pay off when it’s finally time to break a board? Author Lisl Detlefsen delivers a turbo-charged story filled with action, fun, and encouragement. Korean phrases are intermixed throughout Catkwondo, and the Tae Kwon Do Oath and a Tae Kwon Do glossary complete this energetic picture book.

Pedro the Ninja
Written by Fran Manushkin & illustrated by Tammy Lyon
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-7

After watching a ninja cartoon, Pedro dreams of being a ninja himself. Luckily, his dad gets him karate lessons. With hard work and a little practice, maybe Pedro can become ninja star, just like the ones he sees in the movies! A glossary and reading questions make this title a black-belt level book.

Kick! Jump! Chop!
Written by Heather Ayris Burnell & illustrated by Bomboland and Heather Ayris Burnell
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

In a tale reminiscent of The Gingerbread Man, Sensei bakes a Ninjabread Man to spice up the sparring in his dojo, and the new cookie is undefeated until a fox appears.

Ninja Claus!
Written & illustrated by Arree Chung
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

“In this third book in the Ninja! series, Maxwell pits his ninja skills against Santa Claus”—

  • The Secrets of Ninja School - When Ruby’s homesickness spreads to other students at Master Willow’s School for Ninjas, she uses all of the skills she has learned to help them feel better. Includes instructions for making a dragon toy two different ways.

  • Feather - How does this piano-loving featherweight of a girl respond when her brothers keep on making her do their chores? She takes up boxing, of course! Maybe if she gets good enough, they’ll even stop calling her Feather. Readers will see Feather’s determination and sense of justice as positive, transformative traits that help us on the road to becoming who we really are. and they will root for her as she learns to stand up to her brothers and proves that sometimes the best way to go after what you want is to leap into something new.

  • Hello Ninjas! - New from beloved author Joan Holub, Hello Ninjas! is a fun, playful board book about sneaky ninjas! Hello mask Hello boots Hello ninjas wearing suits Ninjas ten point to the sky A challenge from the samurai! Perfect for reading out loud, Joan Holub’s hilarious text and Chris Dickason’s lively illustrations will have little ones learning and laughing as they try to find all the sneaky ninjas hidden on each page. A clever, interactive approach to first concepts, this board book series also introduces important “next-step” concepts like counting in a hilariously engaging way.

  • Ninja Camp - Pack your bags and grab your gear: you’re going to Ninja Camp! Listen closely to the ninja master, who will teach you everything you need to know to become a ninja warrior-but it won’t be easy. You’ll have to be sly and swift, strong and speedy, and only then will you become a Ninja of the Night! This fun and energetic book will delight and entertain kids and parents alike with its clever, rhyming verse and action-packed depictions of the coolest camp around. For fans of Ninja Red Riding Hood who are looking for a lesson in teamwork and cool stealth skills.

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