Three Middle Grade and YA Read-Alikes for Cobra Kai on Netflix

Hand these novels for fans of this reboot of the 1984 Karate Kid movie, in which Johnny Lawrence has grown up and opened his own dojo.


Cobra Kai

Netflix. TV-14. Out now.

In this reboot of the 1984 Karate Kid movie, white Johnny Lawrence (famously defeated by white Karate Kid Daniel LaRusso) has grown up and opened his own dojo to train Latino teen Michael Diaz (among others). The show originally appeared on YouTube Red but was acquired in 2020 by Netflix, which released the third season this January. Teens and nostalgic adults are watching.


Becoming Muhammad Ali by Kwame Alexander and James Patterson. Jimmy Patterson. 2020.
Gr 4-8–Written in both verse and prose by two superstar authors, this biographical novel focuses on African American boxer Muhammad Ali’s childhood and his drive to become a champion. Middle school readers who enjoy character-driven sports fiction will like this spotlight on a boy challenging himself to rise to the top.

The Berlin Boxing Club by Robert Sharenow. HarperTeen. 2011.
Gr 7 Up–In pre-WWII Berlin, 13-year-old German Karl Stern, who is Jewish, takes up boxing after being beaten up by a group of pro-Nazi students at his school. A compelling historical read for young people who relate to the characters in Cobra Kai taking up martial arts as a means of self-defense.

Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina. Candlewick. 2013.
Gr 7 UpWhen Latina teen Piddy Sanchez discovers she has become the target of her school’s toughest bully, the threat of a beatdown follows her everywhere she goes. Although the book doesn’t feature martial arts, readers who identify with the bullying themes in the show may want to check this one out.

Abby Johnson is the collection development leader at the Floyd County (IN) Library.

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