Reel Reading: Engaging Boys with Mixed Martial Arts Books

20130207-190708I have this one student who tells me almost every day, “I don’t read.” He doesn’t say, “I hate to read.” He proudly says, “I don’t read.”

I want to say, “Yep, kiddo, it’s obvious,” but I bite my tongue.

So, today I said, “G., I know you don’t like to read, but surely you like stuff. What stuff do you like?” Without a pause, he said MMA. Now, I am getting on in years, but I have teenage sons. I thank them today that I know that MMA stands for Mixed Martial Arts. Score for this mom!

I told G. that I didn’t have any books dealing with that intense and mean fighting genre, but I’d find some. I quickly emailed my awesome librarians with the request, and within an hour an aid walked seven books to my room.

No surprise that I haven’t read any of them.

Here’s what’s in the stack– I found no book trailers for any of them, which makes me a little sad, but I found a solution. Wait for it.

One Shot Away , a Wrestling Story by T. Glen Coughlin

The Long Shot by Katie Kitamura

My Father, the Angel of Death by Ray Villareal

Uncaged–My Life as a Champion MMA Fighter by Frank Shamrock

Headlock by Joyce Sweeney

Wrestling Sturbridge by Rich Wallace

BUT, the one that got my attention, and the one that will get my own sons’ reading is:

Heart for the Fight– A Marine Hero’s Journey from the Battlefields of Iraq to Mixed Martial Arts Champion by Brian Stann with John R. Bruning.

Check this video out. It’s better than a book trailer.


3 thoughts on “Reel Reading: Engaging Boys with Mixed Martial Arts Books

  1. lhensel March 22, 2013 at 10:07 am Reply

    Thanks for your note! I have gained so much from reading your insights and definitely would not think you are advocating the sport! This was my first introduction to it and the video was just sort of difficult to watch for me so I wanted to ask more about it. I can see where supporting student reading with a non-judgmental stance can really be a great thing!


  2. amyrasmussen March 21, 2013 at 2:09 pm Reply

    Yes, MMA is brutal. Please do not think I am advocating this sport. I am not, but I do want to show students that there are books about the things they are interested in. My first exposure to MMA was from a student my first year teaching. He brought a book to class and challenged me to read it. Yes, challenged. I cannot remember the title, but it was about a young man who was fascinated with mixed martial arts. He went to Asia to learn the sport, living on very little food and training almost to the point of killing himself. I hated the book, but I read it–quite simply because that student didn’t think I would. I made a connection with Jonathan that I would not have made otherwise. I love that books will do that!


  3. lhensel March 21, 2013 at 12:10 pm Reply

    I am not very familiar with MMA, but are they really punching their opponents heads? I found that hard to watch and I am uneasy about using that in the classroom, but I am also open to better understanding this genre/interest as it applies to building readers.


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