Bullying: The Bullies, the Bullied, and the By-standers

Impact on Programming and Services

By Sheilah Egan

   As the population grows and more people live closer together, we see that sheer numbers allow for increased incidents of all sorts of social ills, including a marked rise in every aspect of bullying. School districts around the country have scrambled to put in place policies to prevent bullying and to protect those who have been bullied, as well as to counsel the bullies themselves. It is a very tenuous area and administrators are balancing on a fine line of what can be done/should be done/and feasibly may be done. There are many laws already in place that should protect all people’s rights whether at school, work, home, or public areas, including transportation. Yet, daily the media reports horrendous examples of bullying in a variety of settings. Of course, this is a social issue that crosses all imagined or real boundaries in American (and in other countries’) culture. Adults should be charged with protecting and helping form empathy in all children; but that is the ideal and not the reality that we are seeing, especially in school settings. Because communication has changed remarkably, bullied children are even pursued in their own homes via text messages, Facebook, YouTube, and other Internet applications for fast, multiplied communications. Cliques and “circles” are not new by any means but the devastation that can be perpetrated is faster and more-wide spread than ever before. Obviously, different age groups experience varying degrees of bullying but it can begin at very early ages. Little people in the sand box already know who is going to grab certain toys first and which ones among them will just acquiesce and which ones will cry, as well as which ones will snatch the highly coveted blue truck right back. Early training and intervention should help to make all children aware of acceptable social interactions; but many children are not taught to think with empathy or consideration of others. In fact, many children have had to learn from the examples around them that in order to make a place for themselves they must take it on their own. Disposition, personality, socio-economic and cultural backgrounds make each of us unique beings; but it does seem that each person should be able to expect enough respect from everyone they encounter to be able to live without anticipation or fear of being bullied.

   Christy Anne Pierce, a Certified Regional Trainer in the Bully Free Classroom program was one of the presenters at The Shenandoah University Children’s Literature Conference (June 2012). Her long career as a teacher and principal are the platform for her dedication to helping train teachers to face and deal with the many students affected by school bullying. Her opening statement included basic statistics about bullying in school settings as well as facts about social, cyber, and workplace bullying; but her main focus is reflected in the title of her program: “Bullies, Bystanders, Followers, Rescuers, and Victims.” The Bully Free Program was established to help train administrators and teachers to deal with all aspects of bullying by Allan L. Beane, Ph.D., a former classroom teacher who is recognized as an authority/expert on bullying. [Bully Free®, Bully Free Classroom®, and Bully Free Zone® are registered trademarks of Free Spirit Publishing Inc.] The website has many valuable insights and lessons for classroom and school use: www.bullyfree.com.

   Children who are bullied often feel isolated and helpless; they may even feel that they “deserve” to be bullied because of some perceived differences in their physical appearance or social/cultural background. They may feel that people in authority will not support or protect them-a situation that must be remedied as early as possible. Parents, administrators, and educators need support and resources to build environments that foster every student’s ability to learn and grow into responsible, compassionate people.

   The following titles are suggestions with reviews that can be found on CLCD, they represent only a smattering of many excellent books available in three different age ranges-4 to 8, 8 to 12, and 12 up (including YA titles for high school).


Ages 4 to 8

Billy Bully: A School-yard Counting Tale

Alvaro Galan and Ana Galan

Illustrated by Steve Simpson

   Act like a bully and you will not have any friends. Be a friend if you want to have friends. These are the two simple messages behind this morality/counting tale. Billy is a bull; he is also a bully. He grabs a toy from one friend’s hands, cuts in line, pushes, breaks his friend’s toy, is a selfish teammate, and plays mean jokes. As each mean act alienates one of his friends, his social circle dwindles from ten to zero. Fortunately, Billy learns his lesson and figures out how to bring his friends back. He says good things, plays nicely, shares his lunch, helps his friends learn new skills–in short, he shows good manners, kindness, and sportsmanship! “When Billy Bull learns how to play,” the text concludes, “all his friends come back to play.” This book is too brief to be considered brow-beating. Its lessons seem obvious, but they are delivered in a memorable way. It would be a good back-to-school selection for preschool through second grade at the beginning of the year, or as a gentle reminder in classrooms where teachers are observing a pattern of poor behavior. 2009, Cartwheel Books/Scholastic, Ages 3 to 7, $3.99. Reviewer: Heidi Hauser Green (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9780545110129

Bullies Never Win

Margery Cuyler

Illustrated by Arthur Howard

   In first grade, Jessica faced a lesson that had nothing to do with getting her homework done, or even getting it turned in on time. Jessica’s biggest problem was Brenda Bailey. Every day Jessica went to school, Brenda found ways to bully her: from the clothes Jessica wore, to the way she played kickball, even to the homework Jessica turned in. If that was not enough for Jessica, she also worried about other things. For example, Jessica worried if her socks matched, worried if she could find her barrettes, and even worried about her knobby knees. For a first grader, Jessica had too much to worry about. Her teacher, Mr. Martin, had advised his class to “just ignore” the bullies, but Jessica did not think she could do that. After telling her mom about the problem with Brenda, Jessica came up with a plan. The next day, when Brenda began her bulling ways, Jessica put her plan into action. Brenda was stunned, embarrassed, and finally quiet. Can you imagine what Jessica’s plan was? Could your child learn from Jessica? If your child has been bullied, or knows a child who is being bullied, the strategy Jessica used just might be helpful. This is a book that should be kept in all elementary classes and read out-loud regularly. Empowering children starts early, and Jessica’s story and her solution are about empowering children. The colorful illustrations are humorous and on target for the elementary grades. If given the opportunity, children in grades first through fourth will enjoy picking this book up and reading it by themselves. 2009, Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, Ages 5 to 9, $16.99. Reviewer: Debby Willett (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9780689861871

Chester Raccoon and the Big Bad Bully

Audrey Penn

Illustrated by Barbara L. Gibson

   Chester Raccoon has bully problems in this latest addition to the “Kissing Hand” collection. Not even the teacher can stop the school bully, a badger, from harassing and physically attacking Chester and the other students. Chester’s mother tells an allegory about smooth yellow stones, which forest animals loved to collect long ago, and a jagged blue stone too sharp to hold. The animals learned that the stone was meant to be blue but that it had to be smoothed by the animals if they wanted to hold it. Mrs. Raccoon likens the badger to the blue stone and says if Chester and his school friends work together, they can “smooth out” the badger’s “bullying ways.” The next day at recess, the animals approach the badger en masse, with Chester in the lead holding a ball. The confident pack backs the frightened animal against a tree until Chester, standing nose to nose with the badger, surprises him by asking if he wants to play. In that moment the bully becomes a friend who “didn’t need to bully anyone ever again.” Vivid illustrations saturate each page, and the animals’ faces are expressive. But because this sentimental story perpetuates some myths about bullying and offers a problematic, all-purpose solution, it should be supplemented with books or other information provided by experts. 2008, Tanglewood Press, Ages 3 to 8, $16.95. Reviewer: Paula K. Zeller (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9781933718156

The Meanest Thing to Say

Bill Cosby

Illustrated by Varnette P. Honeywood

   The “Little Bill” series is a great purchase for schools and libraries. In this installment of Cosby’s series, it is a normal day for Little Bill except that there is a new kid, Michael. “It didn’t take him long to start trouble–just until recess.” Michael wants to play a new kind of game, not basketball like all the other kids want. No, he wants to start a game called “Playing the Dozens” where each person gets a chance to say twelve mean things, and the one who says the meanest thing “wins.” Many of us have played some form of this game without thinking about the consequences. Little Bill learns that saying mean “things” makes him feel mean, and hearing mean “things” makes him mad. When he is still mad at home, his family helps out. His father remembers playing this game as a kid, too. The perfect response, Little Bill learns, is not to keep adding insults, but to let them go–asking “so?” By using his new strategy, Little Bill deflects Michael’s game of insults and gets back to basketball. And he even invites Michael to play. Cosby does this without being sickly sweet or cute. There are activities at the end of the book to increase reading speed and fluency. 2003 (orig. 1997), Scholastic, Ages 4 to 8, $3.99. Reviewer: Amy S. Hansen (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9780590137546

Mr. Lincoln’s Way

Patricia Polacco

   Polacco has certainly had an interesting life since most of her books are based upon personal or related experiences. The story of Mr. Lincoln proves that one individual–a teacher, library or school principal–can indeed make a change or difference in a child’s life. The boy in this story is called “Mean Gene” he was a disrupter in the classroom, a bully and not interested in studying. One day when Mr. Lincoln notices Eugene looking at a bird in a tree he tries to approach him through a book about birds. For the first time the boy shows interest and talks a bit. Later Mr. Lincoln asks for his help because birds are not coming to the atrium, and gives him the book to read. He became engrossed in the book; he began to help Mr. Lincoln find the right plants and shrubs and even worked on some bird houses. They really got along well and Eugene really started to change. Then one day he reverted to his old ways and Mr. Lincoln learns that his father is a very prejudiced and angry man, but he counters by talking about how the birds are a variety of colors, but that doesn’t make one better than the other. Eugene tries hard to be a model student and by helping a family of mallard ducks, he helps himself. Mr. Lincoln also has a role in bringing Eugene’s grandfather back into his life. This is a touching and complex story that sends a positive message to kids and creates hope for those working with kids who seem to be lost and categorized as bullies. 2002, Philomel/Penguin Putnam, Ages 5 to 10, $16.99. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9780399237546

The Tale of Sir Dragon: Dealing with Bullies for Kids (and Dragons)

Jean Pendziwol

Illustrated by Martine Gourbault

   The Tale of Sir Dragon: Dealing with Bullies for Kids and Dragons is a children’s picture book that informally deals with the common modern problem of bullying, offering solutions that children can readily understand. The rhyming text and gentle illustrations portray a story about a knight bully who interrupts the playtime of a girl and her dragon friend. Though the girl stands up for the dragon, no other bystanders do, so the time has come for a petition to the king. At the roundtable discussion, the bully learns that everyone has a right to play, no matter what they look like or what species they are. A “Dragon’s Decree” checklist to reinforce the message rounds out this excellent book for parents to share with children when preparing them to deal with bullies, particularly while at school or other communal activities. 2007, Kids Can Press, $17.95. Reviewer: Midwest Book Review (Children’s Bookwatch, July 2008).

ISBN: 9781554531363

Pepita and the Bully / Pepita y la peleonera

Ofelia Dumas Lachtman

Illustrated by Alex Pardo DeLange

Spanish translation by Gabriela Baeza

   Poor Pepita. She has just started school and, after just three days, she does not want to go back again. Why? Babette, the class bully, keeps tormenting her. She starts by teasing Pepita about her name, and then makes fun of her dog and ridicules her braids. What is Pepita to do? To refute Babette’s words, Pepita turns to the people in her neighborhood. She asks Mrs. Green about her name, the mailman about her dog, and Mrs. Becker about braids. All of them contradict Babettes’s harmful words. Her mother stresses the importance of going to school. No matter what, Pepita is told to be nice to others. When she sees Babbette again, Pepita makes her think about what she has said and question her words. Babbette then starts to feel unhappy. This book is a great resource in a class or library collection to introduce and open up dialogue about verbal bullying. The Spanish translation is underneath the English text, ensuring it is suitable for bilingual readers or those who speak either language. 2011, Piñata Books, Ages 4 to 8, $16.95. Reviewer: Rosa Roberts (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9781558856899

Ages 8 to 12

Adam Canfield, Watch Your Back!

Michael Winerip

   Adam Canfield is the co-editor of Harris Elementary/Middle School’s paper, “The Slash.” In this sequel to Adam Canfield of the Slash, Adam is mugged for money he earned shoveling snow. The suspects are quickly apprehended and a trial is scheduled. Due to the mugging incident, Jennifer, Adam’s friend and “Slash’s” other co-editor, brings up the topic of bullies for an article; this idea immediately excites the staff but not Adam who is tackling personal problems. While keeping up on his multiple extracurricular activities, Adam works on his own news article research revealing the truth about the science fair projects. Unfortunately, he receives low marks for his science project which completely surprises him. During their research for upcoming articles in the “Slash,” Adam and Jennifer find some sensitive issues that they must handle, along with the threat abolish the “Slash” if they pursue one of the stories that they are covering. As he digs for the truth, Adam discovers that whether it is a story or a person, sometimes you have to dig deep to find the truth behind the facade. 2007, Candlewick Press, Ages 10 to 14, $15.99. Reviewer: Carrie Hane Hung (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9780763644123

Bullying and Me: Schoolyard Stories

Ouisie Shapiro

Photographs by Steven Vote

   Youth and adults tell of their own or a friend’s experiences of being bullied. One even tells of bullying others. One bullying experience led to suicide. Andrew says, “The bullies made my whole school year a nightmare.” Donovan says, “Some kids who get bullied don’t tell the teachers because they don’t want to be called a snitch.” Felicia lives in a neighborhood with gangs. She stays with an aunt in the summer. This book strongly recommends telling adults when bullying occurs. After each story an expert gives words of advice. “Dr. Dorothy says: Looking back, Doug wishes he’d acted differently when his friend was bullied….But if it’s possible, kids shouldn’t just stand by when someone is being bullied.” At the back is a list of tips for dealing with bullies such as: “Ignore the bully,” or “Don’t fight back.” The striking photos of the kids catch both their anxiety during times of bullying and relief when they have moved on. This is a helpful book for kids dealing with the problem. 2010, Albert Whitman & Company, Ages 8 to 12, $16.99. Reviewer: Carlee Hallman (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9780807509210


Mary Casanova

Illustrated by Richard Jones

   Many schools take a zero-tolerance stance on bullying but what can girls and their parents and teachers do about the more covert “relational aggression,” which involves not hitting but exclusion and spitefulness masked as honeyed remarks? The publisher of the popular American Girl historical series (and dolls) wades into this important issue with a book about a contemporary girl. Chrissa moves to a new school only to find that her overtures toward friendliness are rebuffed by three “Mean Bees.” Chrissa’s kind-hearted parents and grandmother urge her to “be yourself” and “be a friend to make a friend” but these platitudes fall flat when the girls’ teasing escalates to cruel pranks. When the three victimize another girl and blame Chrissa, the newcomer finally finds the courage to tell her parents and stand up to the bullies. This mean-girl behavior, sadly, is all too believable, and author Casanova portrays Chrissa’s hurt and bewilderment with skill and compassion. Launched simultaneously with Chrissa is American Girl’s Stand Up for Yourself and Your Friends by Patti Kelly Criswell. This nonfiction book includes advice and quizzes for “dealing with bullies and bossiness, and finding a better way.” Both are must-have titles for tweens. 2009, American Girl, Ages 9 to 12, $6.95. Reviewer: Mary Quattlebaum (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9781593695668

Confessions of a Former Bully

Trudy Ludwig

Illustrated by Beth Adams

   Katie is a ten-year-old bully who picks on kids in her class. Katie is sneaky and usually does not get caught or have anyone stand up against her. She does not realize how badly she is treating others until one day when she is called to the principal’s office. The principal confronts her about her bullying behavior and tells her she has to pay the consequences. One of the consequences is to find a way to make up for the hurt she has caused to the kids she bullied. She starts journaling about her behavior and what she is learning in her counseling sessions. Then she has the brilliant idea to write a book about bullying. This extraordinary book is written from Katie’s perspective and what it is like to be a bully. She writes about what she has learned in her sessions with her counselor to help others to learn about bullying behavior and to not become a bully or the victim of a bully. She realizes that her bullying included her words, laughing at others, making faces, trying to control others, and embarrassing others. On the other hand, Katie also expresses what to do to help kids who are being bullied and making friends good friends. This wonderful book also includes facts about bullying, a chart about good and bad friends, how to create a safer environment at school, and additional resources. The illustrations add to the explanation that Katie gives about bullying. Readers will enjoy this format and will want to continue reading to find out what else Katie has to say. This astonishing book has the potential to change the lives of kids so that they will not be bullies. Teachers and parents would also benefit from reading this enlightening book. 2010, Tricycle Press, Ages 10 up, $15.99. Reviewer: Cathi I. White (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9781582463094

Friend or Foe?: Plays About Bullying

Catherine Gourley

   Using role playing and reader’s theater offers strategies for young people to address personal development. These plays include: “The Newbie:” Maria and Kaylee are starting the year at new schools, but not at the same one. Maria’s mother gives her a cell phone, but warns her not to let it distract her. When Maria begins getting texts from someone called Sweet Pea, she investigates. Who could be bullying her? Is it her best friend, Kaylee? Then the out-of-sight phone bill arrives. Maria has sent more than 2,000 text messages and made other bad choices at school. She and her mother test a theory to find out who Sweet Pea is. Should she ignore the messages or confront the culprit? Gourley’s series, “Getting into Character,” uses reader’s theater to teach problem solving. Each script is highlighted in the graphic novel style. Five discussion questions are included for the classroom. “Secret Life of a Bully:” In the cafeteria at middle school, J.J. takes Mike’s lunch nearly every day. When J.J. and Tyler get into a fight, the principal takes action. The counselor says, “Bullying isn’t about being strong. It’s about controlling other people.” It becomes obvious why J.J. is a bully when his father comes to the school. Karen confronts J.J. about his behavior. Mike finds his courage to stand up to J.J. when he thinks Karen is being mistreated. J.J. catches on that the other guys are laughing at him, not with him. This “Get Into Character” play gives the reader options to develop better relationships with their peers. 2010, Crabtree Publishing Company, Ages 10 to 14, $8.95 and $26.60. Reviewer: JoAn Watson Martin (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9780778773634

Rules to Rock By

Josh Farrar

   Being twelve years old is challenging enough but when you suddenly find yourself in a new town, in a new school, and without your old band, the situation is beyond the usual set of challenges. This is the state of affairs spunky young Annabelle Carrera finds herself in at the beginning of her sixth grade year. Dealing with parent problems, babysitting her little brother, fending off bullies, making new friends, and finding like-minded students who like to rock are just a few of the difficulties Annabelle encounters as she adjusts to her new environment. Annabelle’s spirit and constant support from her grandmother, and Ronaldo, her former band mate, keep her striving to meet her goals of forming a band and writing the perfect song for her band’s success. This charming book presents realistic problems young people encounter and shows one young person with a good head on her shoulders working her way through the problems. Many lessons can be learned through Annabelle’s example. 2010, Walker Publishing Company, Ages 9 to 12, $16.99. Reviewer: Allison Fetters (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9780802720795

A Smart Kid’s Guide to Online Bullying

David J. Jakubiak

   The Internet can be a very dangerous place; kids often provide too much personal information and may not know what questions to ask about research, social networking, and online gaming. Jakubiak takes a direct approach to teaching Internet safety and research skills. Adults and kids will benefit from reading these books together, as children may have questions and adults may learn things they did not know, as I did. In many ways, this series provides “street safety” classes for the Internet; Jakubiak discusses how to make smart choices. Although these books may not circulate repeatedly, they should be covered in every classroom with Internet access. The “Kids On Line” series is easy to read, has vibrant photos on each page, and offers Tips. Additional links can be found at the publisher’s portal, which is regularly updated. Glossary. Websites. Table of Contents. Index. Highly Recommended. 2010, PowerKids Press/Rosen Publishing Group, $21.25. Reviewer: Brenda Rogers (Library Media Connection, February 2010).

ISBN: 9781404281141

Stay Away from Rat Boy!

Laurie Lears

Illustrated by Red Hansen

   Being twelve years old is challenging enough but when you suddenly find yourself in a new town, in a new school, and without your old band, the situation is beyond the usual set of challenges. This is the state of affairs spunky young Annabelle Carrera finds herself in at the beginning of her sixth grade year. Dealing with parent problems, babysitting her little brother, fending off bullies, making new friends, and finding like-minded students who like to rock are just a few of the difficulties Annabelle encounters as she adjusts to her new environment. Annabelle’s spirit and constant support from her grandmother, and Ronaldo, her former band mate, keep her striving to meet her goals of forming a band and writing the perfect song for her band’s success. This charming book presents realistic problems young people encounter and shows one young person with a good head on her shoulders working her way through the problems. Many lessons can be learned through Annabelle’s example. 2010, Walker Publishing Company, Ages 9 to 12, $16.99. Reviewer: Allison Fetters (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9780807567890

Why Are You Picking on Me?: Dealing with Bullies

John Burstein

   Kristina and her family had moved into a new house and she had started going to a new school. She had made a new friend, Angela. One day in the cafeteria another girl, Shelby bumped into Kristina. When Kristina asked her why she did it, Shelby said she just felt like it and she took a dessert from Kristina’s tray. Kristina told her to give it back but Shelby threatened to punch her. Kristina did not want to fight but she did not want to be bullied either. She wondered what she should do the next time Shelby tried to start a fight with her. This situation begins the book and the illustrated character Slim Goodbody, (John Burstein), gives strategies for dealing with bullies. First he explains that anyone can be a bully and being bullied can happen anywhere and take different forms, physical, verbal, or even be silent, as when someone acts like you are not there and does not talk to you. He explains that there are many reasons people become bullies but it is a way for the bully to feel better about himself or herself. Then the author describes what makes a person a victim. After this is explained, Mr. Burstein goes on to tell kids what to do if they are being bullied. First, they should tell an adult about the situation. If they need support to do this, they should take a friend along or they can write a note if they are too shy to speak with an adult in person. Then the children who are being bullied should be prepared and take precautions like staying with friends, walking tall, practicing what to say, ignoring teasing, and holding back emotions. If all else fails, shout for help. There are pages that ask if you bully yourself or others and tell how you can stop it if you see yourself doing either. It also tells how to help a friend who is being bullied. The photographs show boys and girls of diverse races and physical abilities using the skills in this book of the “Slim Goodbody’s Life Skills 101” series. There is a glossary of difficult words and a list of books and web sites for further study on the subject. 2010, Crabtree Publishing Company, Ages 8 to 12, $26.60 and $8.95. Reviewer: Christine Cassello (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9780778748083

Ages 12 up (including YA titles more suitable for 15 up)

By the Time You Read This, I’ll Be Dead

Julie Anne Peters

   Daelyn Rice has tried and failed at many suicide attempts in her life. She attends a private school where she is talked about and referred to as the girl who never talks. Daelyn decides to make a final attempt at suicide a success and finds a web page called “Completers.” After logging on, she was given the new name of J-Doe 071894. She begins to write about herself online, about the events of her life and what has brought her to this point. She writes from her heart and gives specific details of what people have done and said to her. For example, when she was in seventh grade, she shared with her best friend about how, when she was little, her mother was a drug addict who would sometimes let men take pictures of her daughter. After hearing that, her friend said she could not ever hang out with her again, because she could not be friends with a child porn star. Daelyn had just shared a most private event and could not understand what she had done wrong. Each time she wrote on her blog, heart-wrenching events would be told. She narrated about the names that she was called like “big fat farting pig,” “fatso,” “Lardo,” and “Heifer;” what people had done to her, and how totally alone she felt. Others online would also write about their terrible experiences when bullied and made fun of. The emotional roller coaster Daelyn is on every day is shared with the reader and provides an insight to the deep scars left by being bullied. The book begins with “Chapter 23” and each chapter after is a countdown to Daelyn’s last day on this earth. Discussion prompts are provided at the end of the book as well as facts about bullying: Suicide Warning Signs, Suicide Prevention Hotlines and Websites, Anti-bullying Hotlines and Web Sites, and International Sources. Even though this book is written for young adults, parents, school counselors, and anyone who cares for children should read this book. It is a difficult book to read and will leave the reader thinking about it long after finishing it. It breaks my heart to know it had to be written. 2010, Hyperion Book, Ages 14 up, $16.99. Reviewer: Kathie M. Josephs (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9781423116189

Coping with Bullying

Charlotte Guillain

   Bullies may use verbal, physical, cell phone, and Internet abuse. Calling names, teasing, spreading rumors, and threatening others are some forms of verbal abuse. Physical abuse such as pushing and hurting someone can have consequences not only for the victim, but also for the bully. The person bullied may be helped by counseling. Gangs can lead to real trouble; it is safer to avoid them. Through cell phones bullies can intimidate their victims with threats and sending embarrassing pictures to school mates. Cyber bullying may include sending nasty emails or messages on networking sites or in chat rooms. It may also be used to send mean messages to your friends in your name. Hate pages may be posted with pictures and nasty comments about a victim. Remember that if it is on line it can be traced. To be safe, do not reply, block your site, and tell a parent or teacher. Bullies need help. At the end are ten tips for coping with bullying. There is a glossary, books to read, and lists of websites and organizations that can help. Case studies and special information appear in separate boxes throughout the text. This is part of the “Real Life Issues” series. Colored photographs capture the emotions involved. This helpful book will be a good addition to school and public libraries. 2011, Heinemann Library, Ages 13 to 16, $32.00. Reviewer: Carlee Hallman (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9781432947613

Dear Bully: Seventy Authors Tell Their Stories

Edited by Carrie Jones and Megan Kelley Hall

   In vignettes that range from letters to retrospective memoirs to poems to fictionalized present-tense tellings in words or comics to impassioned admonitions, seventy children’s and YA writers, most of them well known (Rachel Vail, R. L. Stine, Nancy Werlin, Mo Willems) share their collective wisdom on the subject of bullying. Most of the authors were themselves victims, but a range of perspectives is offered, including the stories of people who, to their shame and regret, either participated in bullying or stood idly by while someone else became a target. The attempt to focus on strong survivor-hood sometimes undercuts the point by oddly suggesting people are better off for being bullied, but overall there is a forceful admonition that bullying must be stopped and that we all have a clear mandate to check our own bullying tendencies as well as to intervene when we witness acts of bullying. All emphasize the pain victims experience while the bullying is happening, up to and including some suicide attempts and successes, and a few accounts detail how the painful memories can linger into adulthood, even when the perpetrator has long forgotten the torture he or she inflicted. The message that emerges most forcefully is that there is life on the other side of bullying, and that holding out is worth it, no matter how bad things seem. This is a standout for curricular use, as the accounts are short, focused, and varied (though since they’re drawn from the authors’ own childhoods, they don’t touch on cyberbullying); today’s students can do the work of updating current bullying scenarios while these authors provide the much-needed long view for discussion. 2011, HarperTeen, Grades 5 to 10, $17.99 and $9.99. Reviewer: Karen Coats (The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, December 2011 (Vol. 65, No. 4)).

ISBN: 9780062060976

How Much Do You Know About Bullying?

Jen Jones

   For years parents and teachers have had a tendency to dismiss a child’s “they pick on me” complaint. Research tells us that six out of ten teens observe someone being bullied every day. The bullies and observers might rationalize their behavior as all in good fun. The author suggests that each person take the friendship quiz and say goodbye to the mean girl mentality. If you can put yourself in someone else’s shoes, you will be less tempted to indulging in the mistreating of others. More girls than boys say they are bullied. When it happens to others, you recognize it, but when it happens to you, bullying becomes serious. If the situation is more than you can handle, get help from adults–teachers or parents. Resist the temptation to get back at the bully. Bullying is contagious and you can make a bad situation worse. One of four in the “Snap” books series. An index can help locate information quickly. Also included are a glossary, further reading and Internet sites. Part of the “Snap Books Friendship Quizzes” series. 2012, Capstone Press, Ages 8 to 14, $26.65. JoAn Watson Martin (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9781429665407

Impossible Things

Robin Stevenson

   Cassidy has never been one of the popular girls, but her seventh grade year gets even worse when her one friend dumps her to join the popular crowd. When Victoria shows up at school and seems to be able to make people “do” things through telekinesis, Cassidy is determined to become Victoria’s friend. Cassidy is sure that if she can learn from Victoria how to use her mental abilities on others, then she will be able to keep the school bullies away from herself and her brother, Ben. What Cassidy begins to realize instead is she can rely on the powers of friendship and self-esteem to keep bullies at bay, regardless of whether they are family members or schoolmates. Using her friendship with Victoria as a springboard for resisting the mean girls at school, Cassidy begins to draw other students to her who have also previously been on the fringe of acceptance. Through their involvement with each other, these students begin to resist the bullies, and as Cassidy comes to understand what she and her friends have accomplished in their class, she begins to help Ben deal with his own problems at school. This is a good, solid book for middle school students and teachers interested in discussing the menace of bullying at school and how students can respond in a proactive manner. 2008, Orca Book Publishers, Ages 9 to 13, $8.95. Reviewer: Jean Boreen, Ph.D. (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9781551437361

Letters to a Bullied Girl: Messages of Healing and Hope

Olivia Gardner, with Emily Buder and Sarah Buder

   When sisters Emily and Sarah Buder heard Olivia Gardner’s story-how for more than two years she suffered bullying that ranged from taunts to cyberbullying-they knew they needed to reach out and did so by starting a letter-writing campaign in their school to send messages of support to Olivia. This book is not the story of Olivia’s bullying but of the overwhelming support that flooded in, from their school and other schools in the area, and finally as the media covered the harassment, from the more than 4,000 letters that poured in from around the country. Students and parents, from targets to bullies, wanted to add their voices to help Olivia feel less alone. Many relived moments from their own lives when they were targets or witnesses or bullies. Some wrote about how ashamed they still are for their part in supporting bullying by doing nothing. The letters covered having been bullied for looks, being different, having health conditions, as well as being harassed by girls and even being bullied into attempting bullycide. Some letters came from parents whose children succeeded in ending their lives. For years, research and newspaper headlines have held that bullying is escalating, and still people refuse to believe a problem exists. This book should be read in every school across the country-by the entire staff from bus drivers to principals, coaches, hall and playground monitors, counselors, secretaries, teachers, librarians, and superintendents. The students already know it is happening. 2008, HarperCollins, Ages 11 to 18, $14.95. Reviewer: C. J. Bott (VOYA, October 2008 (Vol. 31, No. 4)).

ISBN: 9780061544620

Surviving Gangs and Bullying

Michaela Miller

   It is reported that every seven minutes a girl is bullied. Bulling is also done to boys. The bullies can be classmates as well as adults, teachers. This book gave me a knot in my stomach as I read the young people’s stories. But because there were so many stories of courage, change, and the determination I found this book to be very positive. Bullying and gang stories are divided in the book. This book has an honest and refreshing approach to homosexuality and homophobia. There is a story of a former bully and how intervention worked for him. The young people’s stories are international and there is the realization that this is a huge problem all over, even more so with cyber bullying which goes on 24/7. Some ways to prevent and stop bullying are suggested, such as seeking help from teachers, principals, and physicians. In Anoop’s story, where the teacher was the abuser, it took his mother’s action of moving him to another school to help. The gang section of the book was equally sad as well as encouraging. There is great depth and coverage is this book. There is a great list of books and web sites to get more help. I went to all of the web sites and they do offer more help for this devastating problem that many people face. 2010, Arcturus Publishing/Black Rabbit Books, Ages 12 up, $32.80. Reviewer: RevaBeth Russell (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9781848376922

Take a Stand!: What You Can Do About Bullying

Carrie Golus

Illustrated by Jack Desrocher

   This is a low-key and reasonably thorough presentation of various types of bullying that children may experience from schoolmates, teachers or online perpetrators. Practical tips called “bully stoppers” are offered for responding to these situations, and some involve students taking the initiative to make their schools safer. The children depicted are of both genders, various ages, and different ethnicities. Gender differences in bullying behavior are discussed. Readers realize that bullying is not the victims’ fault through inclusion of the fact that statistics suggest as many as seventy-five per cent of children experience bullying and several famous people have said they were bullied as children (Tom Cruise, Kate Winslet, and Eminem). Information is provided about why bullying is abuse and should be taken seriously, rather than being viewed as just childhood pranks. The cycle of bullied victims becoming bullies, either as children or adults is one example. An appropriate emphasis on dealing with cyberbullying is the final segment of the book. As with the Stay Safe volume of the “Health Zone” series, Sonya Green, M.D. serves as a consultant. Also like other books in this series, this is fairly short (fifty-five pages, excluding the supplemental material) and information is presented in manageable chunks. A mix of photos and graphics, the use of brightly-colored backgrounds for some pages, and the inclusion of varied size, style and color of text all work together to create visual interest. Supplemental materials include a quiz, information about keeping a bullying journal, a glossary, a selected bibliography, an index, photo credits, and a list of additional sources of information. This would be a useful addition to any school library or school counselor’s collection. It would also certainly be a good choice for parents whose children have reported being bullied. 2009, Lerner Publishing Group, Ages 10 to 14, $30.60. Reviewer: Paula McMillen, Ph.D. (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9780822575542

This Is What I Did

Ann Dee Ellis

   This powerful novel about abuse and anger, guilt and betrayal, does not so much unfold as it does circle around the traumatic event at its center in an ever tightening spiral. The narrator, thirteen-year-old Logan, learns that the father of his best and only friend Zyler is physically and probably sexually abusing him. The abuse culminates in violence and the near rape of the boys’ mutual love interest. Traumatized by these events and by his failure to act, Logan withdraws into himself. Rumors of his involvement in the rape, however, follow him to his new school where he is bullied and shunned. His parents’ clumsy attempts to help him only make matters worse. Logan narrates in the first person in short sentences with few paragraphs; he quotes conversations where his responses are blank silences. By this very inarticulateness Logan reveals the depths of his anguish. This innovative, suspenseful novel is interspersed with small icons in silhouette that punctuate the story with hints of past events that Logan cannot yet confront. A bicycle graphic, for example, at first suggests the innocent fun the boys have together, but it is repeated at intervals throughout the story till it accrues greater significance, becoming at once a symbol of escape and of the permanent link between the boys and finally, of Logan’s attempt at reconciliation. This painful novel serves as a grim reminder of the unspoken burdens children may carry. It is only near the end when healing begins that we learn what actually happened. The book captures the harsh realities of schools as complex societies, where students must learn at least as much about social interaction as about academic subjects. Though written for a younger audience, it bears comparison with such novels of betrayal as Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner. 2007, Little Brown and Company/Hachette, Ages 12 to 17, $16.99. Reviewer: Christina M. Desai (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9780316013635

We Want You to Know: Kids Talk About Bullying

Deborah Ellis

   Here are haunting descriptions of bullying which have often left victims with permanent physical, social and emotional disabilities. Ellis organizes the interviews under five categories: “You’re not good enough; You’re too different; You’re it–just because; We want to crush you; and Redemption.” Schools are not places of protection for many children. In fact, bullying is almost institutionalized. The children asked for protection repeatedly–from parents, teachers, principals, school boards and even, in some cases, the police. Although cyber bullying is acted upon, many of the physical and verbal abuses suffered in these cases were allowed to continue. Some school personnel were afraid of legal repercussions; sometimes the community was so small that everyone knew one another, which made confrontation difficult. While many parents took action on behalf of their children, they were not always successful. Some were victims themselves. Others, in frustration, acted violently or abusively which further compounded the problem. Several families in this book took their children out of school altogether or moved them. Ellis includes responses from bullies, most of whom are now remorseful, but one concludes her comments with “Who cares? I don’t.” (page 95) One of the most shocking patterns is that when students continue to be bullied, it is perceived as the victim’s problem. “I told the principal on Monday, and she said, “Many times you have lied, Adam, so why should I believe you now?” (page 21) Ellis includes discussion questions at the end of each interview, which could be used to initiate important conversations. Black and white photographs punctuate the text, and resources for parents, kids and teachers are listed at the back, along with the index. Proceeds from the book go to Name It 2 Change It Community Campaign Against Bullying. 2010, Couteau Books, Ages 12 up, $21.95. Reviewer: Dawna Lisa Buchanan (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9781550504170


Updated 8/1/12

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