Keep reading for more about my #1 book recommendation: Way of the Warrior Kid!
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“‘So there I was . . . Plenty of glorified war stories start like that.'”
This is the first line of the book Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. It’s a book that will truly change your life. It changes the way you look at war, leadership, and yourself.
Who is Jocko?
Let’s back up a second. Jocko Willink is a decorated retired Navy SEAL officer. SEALS (Sea, Air, and Land) are the Navy’s special operations force in the United States Military.
Remember those documentaries on the Discovery Channel back in the day where they gave you a behind the scenes look of young men trying to become Navy SEALs. They would crawl in the sand, carry logs over their heads, get yelled at, and other extremely unfun looking things.
Well Jocko not only passed the training, he went on serve 20 years in the SEAL teams and rose through the ranks to become a commanding officer.
I know what you are thinking, what does this guy have to do with children’s books? Well, Jocko also is a father. He has four kids and when they were growing up, he had a hard time finding books that support the type of values and attitudes you want your kids to have.
So like Beverly Cleary once said, “If you don’t see the book you want on the shelf, write it.” So that is what Jocko did.
Way of the Warrior Kid
Way of the Warrior Kid: From Wimpy to Warrior the Navy SEAL Way was published in 2017. It tells the story of Marc. Now Marc isn’t a remarkable kid. He can’t do any push-ups, he doesn’t know how to swim, he struggles with his times tables, and worst of all, he has a bully named Kenny Williamson.
During the pull-up challenge on Sports Day on the last day of school, Marc is able to do ZERO pull-ups. Not only he is totally embarrassed in front of the entire school, but Kenny Williamson laughs at him AND points out that he can’t swim either.
It’s a terrible way to end the school year, and it makes Marc dread the next school year. BUT! He does have something to look forward too. His Uncle Jake is coming to stay with him for the summer. Uncle Jake is in the SEAL teams.
When Uncle Jake learns about all of Marc’s troubles, he tells Marc “instead of being a wimpy kid, you can be a Warrior Kid.” Marc is a little confused because he doesn’t know how a kid, who can’t fight in wars, can be a warrior?
“There is a lot more to being a warrior than just being in a war. Warriors are people that stand up for themselves. They face challenges. Warriors work hard to achieve goals. They have the disciple to overcome their weaknesses. Warriors are people that constantly try to test and improve themselves.”
How can a normal kid become a Warrior Kid?
“A normal kid doesn’t push himself-a Warrior Kid does. A normal kid doesn’t work constantly to improve himself-a Warrior Kid does. I look at all these problems you cried to me about yesterday. A Warrior Kid wouldn’t cry about those problems. A Warrior Kid would DO something about those problems!”
Can Uncle Jake help turn Marc into a Warrior Kid? What does training to be a Warrior Kid look like? Will it really help Marc stand up to Kenny Williamson? You will have to read the book yourself to find out!!
Why every kid should read this book!
1. It’s an easy-to-read book with illustrations that doesn’t try too hard.
This book isn’t military propaganda, don’t worry. But it was written FOR KIDS. It’s easy to read, has (sometimes funny) illustrations, and isn’t trying to be the typical children’s book. There isn’t some hidden meaning after pages and pages of elegant prose. No underlying symbolism. It’s matter-of-fact life lessons on every.single.page. but presented in a way that won’t have kids rolling their eyes.
They cheer for Marc because they have been there. EVERY kid has negative self-talk (no matter how much we try to prevent it.) Every kid has fears. Every kid faces a challenge they desperately want to conquer but deep down they have no idea how. Uncle Jake teaches you how to face your fears and overcome challenges.
2. Powerful message for parents and kids.
The major life lessons of disciple equals freedom and with hard work you can achieve anything, are just SOME of the lessons Marc learns during this summer. He learns to be a leader and eventually gains the confidence to stand up to his bully Kenny Williamson. And (spoiler alert) they DON’T get into a physical fight but they do confront each other and positive conclusion is reached.
3. It’s not like anything else your child will read.
I have a been a book worm my entire life (other than college which almost cured me of enjoying to read but that is a different story) and I have read a lot of books since I started homeschooling my kids in 2013. I can honestly tell you this book is not like any other book out there because of the combination of numbers 1 and 2. It presents a powerful message in an easy-to-read format
4. Encourages healthy habits like eating right and exercise
A long with life lessons, this book also teaches about eating right and exercise. And like most kids, Marc isn’t terribly excited about either of those things but he comes to how important they are for being a Warrior Kid.
“The food you eat is like fuel. If you put the wrong fuel in a car, the car doesn’t work anymore.”
5. Teaches kids to overcome their fears
Everyone is afraid of something. It might be the dark or snakes or in Marc’s case, swimming. No matter what kids are fearful of, Uncle Jake perfectly sums up how to conquer your fears
“Fear lives in the moment-that powerful moment-between when you decide you are going to do something and when you do it. Once you go-once you start-you won’t be afraid anymore. You overcome the fear by going. . . . The fear is in the waiting. So. Once you have prepared and trained and studied and planned, there is only one thing left to do: go.”
6. The important life lesson: if you want something, you have to work for it.
We often tell our kids they can be anything they want to be. But we often forget the second part of that: you have to work for it. If you want something bad enough, hard work is how you get there.
“All it took was a good plan, and the discipline to execute the plan. To DO IT. That’s what it takes. And you can apply that to just about anything. If you are willing to do the work, you can make things happen. And like I told you, no one else is going to do the work for you. Sure, you might get some help along the way. But you might not. Who knows? What we do know is this: Hard work and disciple are how you achieve things. . . With hard work, anything is possible.”
7. Warrior Code, times tables, and Presidents, oh my!
Warriors not only need to be in excellent physical shape, they also need to be in great mental shape. Uncle Jake helps Marc learn about the various warrior codes in history: The United States Marine Corps Core Values, The US Army Warrior Ethos, The Seven Virtues of Bushido (Samurai Code), The Code of Chivalry for Knights of the Middle Ages. He also helps Marc memorizes his times tables and challenges him to learn the order of US Presidents and the Gettysburg Address.
“After the battle was over, President Lincoln came to the site and gave a speech called the Gettysburg Address. Although the speech was only ten sentences long and President Lincoln spoke only for two minutes my Uncle Jake says it is one of the best speeches ever. . . Uncle Jake said everyone should memorize that speech. I agree with him, and I will.”
8. Discipline Equals Freedom.
I have listened to this mantra over and over and over during the past few years and I can honestly say it’s life changing.
“I don’t worry about motivation, because motivation comes and goes. It’s just a feeling. You might feel motivated to do something, and you might not. The thing that keeps you on course and keeps you on the warrior path isn’t motivation. It is discipline. . . . Sure, it’s nice when motivation is there, but you can’t count on motivation. You have to rely on the personal discipline you develop. Discipline equals freedom.
9. The lack of a father figure is something all kids can relate to.
Marc’s dad isn’t around a lot because of work. I think this really adds to the story because so many kids can understand the feeling of their dad not being a part of their everyday lives. Whether it’s through divorce or working long hours, dads aren’t always home when kids need them. It really hit home with my kids, because my husband has worked 50-60 hours a week since they were born.
If your kids aren’t into regular sports like mine but you still want them to be active, this book brings to light one of my kids’ favorite things: Brazilian jiu jitsu. Jiu jitsu is a grappling martial art and throughout the book Marc gains a ton of confidence my learning it.
“For the first time in my life, I realized that I could learn a skill that would give me the ability to defend myself and my friends from guys like Kenny.”
MORE JOCKO STUFF!
If you want to learn more about Jocko, make sure to listen to his podcast. Better yet, he has a Warrior Kid podcast where Uncle Jake answers questions from Warrior Kid readers.
And one of the most exciting things about this book is that the Warrior Kid books are a series!! Kids love book series, I know mine sure do, because it is like reuniting with an old friend. You get to catch up on their latest adventures and remember the past times you had together.
It’s no secret that I am an uber fan of this book. It is truly is not like any other book out there. If your family values hard work, respect, and humility, then this is the book for you!