by Marsha Rakestraw
As information about bullying becomes more pervasive, schools and others who serve children are striving to create anti-bully/pro-hero environments.
Since bullying and exclusion can begin as early as preschool, it’s important that we who are helping children become their best selves begin cultivating humane values in our young children.
October is Bullying Prevention Month and a great time to explore issues of bullying, refusing to be a bystander, and what it means to be a good citizen.
Here are 13 children’s picture books about bullying that can help start the conversation.
1. The Bully Blockers Club by Teresa Bateman
2004. Grades PreK-3.
The new school year brings a bully to Lotty Raccoon’s classroom. No matter what she and the other kids try, Grant Grizzly won’t stop bullying them. Eventually Lotty gets the idea for those who are being bullied to form a Bully Blockers Club to speak out whenever they see Grant bothering someone. Soon almost everyone is speaking out when they see bullying.
2. Edwardo: The Horriblest Boy in the Whole Wide World by John Burningham
2007. Grades PreK-3.
“Edwardo was an ordinary boy.” But whenever he does something a bit bad, he’s told how horrible he is. Soon his behavior is cruel and awful. But when he accidentally does something bad that has good consequences and is complimented, Edwardo eventually becomes “the nicest boy in the whole wide world.”
3. Willow Finds a Way by Lana Button
2013. Grades K-2.
Even though Kristabelle is a bit bossy and bullying, Willow desperately wants to be invited to her “fantastic birthday party.” The whole class is excited to learn they’re invited, but then Kristabelle starts uninviting kids who don’t do what she says. Willow wants to speak out, but she doesn’t want to be uninvited. Eventually Willow finds a way to let Kristabelle know her bullying isn’t okay.
4. Ben Rides On by Matt Davies
2013. Grades PreK-3.
Ben loves riding his bike to school – especially the long way – but he doesn’t love the bully Adrian Underbite, especially when Adrian steals his beloved bike! When Ben encounters Adrian in a precarious and life-threatening position, he must decide whether to help this bike-stealing bully.
5. Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
1991. Grades PreK-2.
Chrysanthemum absolutely loves her name, until she goes to school and nearly everyone makes fun of her. Chrysanthemum begins to hate her name and question her own worthiness, until a teacher with a special name of her own reminds Chrysanthemum how perfect she and her name are.
6. Goal! by Mina Javaherbin
2010. Grades 1-5.
The streets in this town in South Africa are not always safe, so when the narrator and his five friends come together to play soccer in an alley, they are careful, especially because they have a brand new federation-sized football. When they are discovered by a group of bullies, the boys must use their ingenuity to thwart the intruders from stealing the ball and taking away their hopes and dreams.
7. Pepita and the Bully/Pepita y La Peleonera by Ofelia Dumas Lachtman
2011. Grades 1-3.
Three days into school and Pepita knows she doesn’t want to go back, mainly because Babette makes fun of Pepita’s name, her hair, and even her dog. With reassurance from neighbors and advice from her family, Pepita stands up to Babette, and they come to a truce.
8. My Secret Bully by Trudy Ludwig
2003. Grades 1-4.
Monica and Katie have been friends since kindergarten. But Monica has a secret: Katie bullies her sometimes. She gossips about her to their other friends, and sometimes she excludes and threatens Monica. Finally, with guidance from her mom, Monica gains the courage to stand up to Katie and share how she feels: “…. friends don’t do that to friends,” and learns that sometimes friendships must end when they’re not healthy ones.
9. Say Something by Peggy Moss
2004. Grades K-4.
A young girl witnesses several acts of bullying at school and does nothing, until a day when she is teased and considers how those being bullied must feel.
10. Wings by Christopher Myers
2000. Grades K-3.
New boy Icarus Jackson has wings. While his classmates and teachers laugh at him or find him an impediment, one girl sees his specialness and finally has the courage to stand up for him and to tell Icarus that his flying is beautiful.
11. One by Katherine Otoshi
2008. Grades PreK-1.
A simple color and counting book that offers a lesson on bullying.
12. Bully by Patricia Polacco
2012. Grades 3-6.
Lyla starts as an outsider at her new school, making friends with fellow new kid, Jamie. She eventually wins her way in with the popular girls. Desperate to belong, she starts avoiding Jamie publicly, but when her new “friends” start bullying Jamie on social media, Lyla finally speaks out … and then finds herself the victim of her former clique’s outrage.
13. Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson
2012. Grades K-3.
New girl, Maya, comes to school and tries to befriend Chloe. But Maya’s clothes are shabby, and Chloe continually rejects Maya’s attempts at friendship. When Ms. Albert teaches a lesson about kindness, Chloe realizes she has been cruel to Maya. But Maya’s family has moved away, and Chloe is left feeling shame and sorrow that she will never have a chance to show Maya kindness.
For more resources and ideas about pro-hero/anti-bullying, check out our global issues guide.
Image via Twentyfour Students/Flickr.