Bullying-Let’s Stop It Now. Start Here.
From time immemorial there have been bullies. Starting with the cave dwellers and on through the ages, on the school yard, in the neighborhood, in politics and even in the corporate boardroom. But hey, we’re not cave dwellers anymore, we’re evolved! So why does bullying still happen?
We’ve all been witness to bullying, or involved in an incident of bullying either as the victim or perpetrator, you know you have. And as adults with 20/20 hindsight, we hope we would handle it better if it happened to us today.
To cap off our week of Anti-bullying posts here at RAoR we’d like to share some of our picks for books that help us all to deal and hope to do away with bullying.
Shredderman: Secret Identity by Wendelin Van Draanen
All of the titles in the Shredderman series are wonderful examples of smart kids finding a way to triumph over bullies. In this story Bubba has been the bane of Nolan’s existence for five long years. So when Mr. Green asks the class to become reporters, Nolan decides he’ll write an exposé—on Bubba. He doesn’t want to sign his name to it (that’d be too risky), so Nolan creates a secret identity for himself—on the Internet. He launches Shredderman.com as a place where truth and justice prevail—and bullies get what’s coming to them.
This hilariously triumphant story is for any kid who’s ever dreamed of unleashing their own inner superhero!
Sneaky Weasel by Hannah Shaw
He’s such a sneaky weasel, he tries to feed you to a cat, tapes you upside down to a chalkboard, and causes you to be very, very itchy. And when you don’t show up at the extrafancy party he’s throwing for himself, he can’t understand Why! Not only is Weasel totally sneaky—he just doesn’t get that he’s not funny, he’s annoying and hurtful. Sneaky weasel finds that his tricks have left him with plenty of power, lots of fancy stuff, and absolutely no friends. Can this very bad weasel learn how to be good? So when all of his “friends” don’t show up for the party he finally has to rethink how he treats them, or end up alone.
The Yellow Tutu by Kirsten Bramsen
Margo wakes up on her birthday to find a present at the end of her bed – a gorgeous yellow tutu! – she puts it on her head a feels as beautiful as sunshine. As she marches to school she imagines all of the joy she is bringing to everything around her – but then the other kids start talking about her, and calling her names. Crushed, Margo dissolves into tears, only to be rescued by Pearl, who thinks that Margo looks like a beautiful sunflower. This beautifully illustrated story of Margo and her yellow tutu has a very subtle message of individuality, friendship and imagination.
Blubber by Judy Blume
There is not a single Judy Blume book that I didn’t read as a child, but I recently re-read Blubber, her classic story of fitting in and bullying set in a suburban fifth grade classroom. Told from the perspective of the girl who just wants to fit in and fly under the radar, the way that a group of young girls torments an overweight classmate feels all too timely. In Blume’s realistic book, there are no easy answers; the “mean girl” doesn’t get her comeuppance in the end, and the victim isn’t really a loveable character. This book is still a must read for parents, kids and teachers, though. It will prompt open discussion of how it feels to want to fit in, what that desire can push kids to do, and how parents can turn a blind eye to the struggles their kids deal with every day.
A blog favorite and a 2011 Michael L Printz Honor Book, Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King is a dark and thought provoking mystery that, among many other things, illuminates the problem of bullying in a subtle but very real way. Vera’s ex-best friend Charlie is dead and the circumstances are dark and mysterious. Vera has known Charlie her whole life so the secrets they’ve shared, the secrets she holds deep inside could be the very thing needed to help clear his name. But Vera, who has always preferred to remain in the background, is still reeling from Charlie’s betrayal which leaves her completely heartbroken and angry, and also vulnerable to the cruelty of her classmates. A.S. King has created an often difficult but ultimately redeeming story about family, friendship, and high school social hierarchy, drugs, abuse, and their consequences.
Along with all of the talk about preventing bullying there has also been a lot of talk about a terrific book DEAR BULLY: 70 Authors Tell Their Stories edited by Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones. These are stories of painful incidents of bullying in each of these authors’ lives–told from both sides. Stories of fear and courage and strength, incredibly personal real-life stories. Reading this the message that “you are not alone” shines through and teaches us yes, there are bullies in the world but they are not right, their behavior will never be right. In her essay “Never Shut Up” Kiersten White says “Because being a bully is easy, and being a victim is all too common. But standing on your safe middle ground and deciding to reach out where you can make a difference? That is a rare and difficult choice. Make the choice. Do something. Never shut up.”
Dear Bully includes a list of Resources for Educators and Parents. Read it, share it. Do something.
October is National Bullying Prevention Month, so if there is a kid in your life who needs to talk, please go here: http://www.pacer.org/bullying/nbpm/