Teaching anti-bullying in the classroom is important because it helps prevent issues within the classroom, and creates a welcoming learning environment. As educators and/or parents, you must teach them that mistreating anyone is wrong whether it be in person, online, or through text/phone. 20% of students ages 12-18 reported experiencing bullying at school, and 15 % of those were bullied online or by text. This is why it is so important to teach to kids. I use children’s books about self-esteem as a gateway for opening up discussions in the learning environment. Whether you are a teacher, counselor, or parent, using books to help illustrate a topic is a great way for kids to learn.
I often cover bullying in my lessons, I use this FREE Bullying Intervention Behavior Toolbox that helps to identify and intervene with bullying behaviors. I also use this Character Education: Digital Citizenship resource to cover Cyberbullying. Looking for more ideas on how to teach bullying in the classroom? Check out this blog post on Teaching about Bullying in the Classroom. Here is a list of some of the awesome children’s books about bullying out there that I use to help teach this topic to students.
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Title of Book and Author: Bully B.E.A.N.S. by Julia Cook
A short summary of the book: Bobbette the bully is always threatening students at her school. Finally, one little girl tells her mom about Bobbette; her mom gives her special “bully beans” to eat to be able to stand up to the bully. The children at school learn that they can be courageous and face bullies. Julia Cook uses an easy acrostic and many examples to teach young children ways to stop bullying.
Why I like the book: Many bully-focused books target the bully or the person being bullied, but his book highlights the bystander of bullying. It is a great introduction to this hard topic of bullying for young readers.
The moral of the story: Be courageous and choose not to tolerate bullying.
Topics covered: Bullying; Courage; Caregiver Support; Empathy
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): Bully Beans on Amazon
JUICE BOX BULLY
Title of Book and Author: Juice Box Bully: Empowering Kids to Stand Up for Others by Bob Sornson
A short summary of the book: A little boy named Pete goes to a new school and starts to bully others. When the other kids see what he’s doing, they decide to get involved instead of being bystanders. Pete’s peers teach him about “The Promise”. Pete has to decide if he will continue to be a bully or choose to make “The Promise”.
Why I like the book: Children learn the power in standing up for others while also giving clear examples of how to approach bullies. The illustrations seen in this book show diversity in the students and help more children relate to the concept as they listen or read along.
The moral of the story: Standing up to bullies is worth it!
Topics covered: Bullying; Respect; Forgiveness; Kindness; Empathy; Togetherness
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): Juice box Bully on Amazon
MY SECRET BULLY
Title of Book and Author: My Secret Bully by Trudy Ludwig
A short summary of the book: Monica and Katie have been friends since kindergarten, but sometimes Katie is mean. Monica loves spending time with Katie when she’s kind, but she doesn’t understand why Katie isn’t always this way. Katie sometimes calls Monica names and manipulates, embarrasses, and excludes her. Monica’s mom helps her learn ways to cope and even THRIVE as she addresses her fears head on. Monica takes back all of the power from her bully!
Why I like the book: Trudy Ludwig highlights relational aggression in this story to show children that bullying can even come in unexpected forms, like from a “friend”. This book is a helpful tool for counselors, teachers, and parents to help teach children about emotional bullying and how to address it.
The moral of the story: Secret bullies are still bullies!
Topics covered: Bullying; Emotional Bullying; Relational Aggression; Friendship; Facing Fears
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): My Secret Bully on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: Just Kidding by Trudy Ludwig
A short summary of the book: DJ is being teased by another boy named Vince at school. Vince says hurtful comments to DJ but shrugs them off each time by saying “just kidding”. DJ is nervous to tell anyone how he feels because he might be viewed as a “tattletale”. One day after DJ becomes upset at home, he decides to talk to his dad about the bullying. DJ’s dad helps him by teaching him a strategy to use when Vince speaks in this way to him. DJ’s teacher also supports him by teaching him the difference between tattling and reporting. She encourages DJ to spend time with classmates who make him feel good, instead of ones who speak negatively to him.
Why I like the book: This story highlights bullying between boys, although the concept can be viewed through a girl’s lens as well. Many times bullying is viewed as an issue between girls, and boys feel less encouraged to speak out about their feelings. The pictures and words depicted in this book are strong and help relay the message clearly to young readers.
The moral of the story: It is important to seek help when you’re being bullied.
Topics covered: Bullying with Boys; Emotional Bullying; Acceptance; Adult Support
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): Just kidding on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: Weird! by Erin Frankel
A short summary of the book: Luisa is a third grade girl who just likes to be herself at school. She greets her dad in Spanish, wears her favorite boots with polka-dots, and enjoys time with her friends. A peer in her class named Sam calls her “weird” over and over again for these types of things. Luisa finds herself hiding her colorful personality as a result of Sam’s remarks. Her family, classmates, and teachers help her realize that her color is worth taking back!
Why I like the book: This book is the first book in a series by Erin Frankel about bullying told from third graders’ perspectives. In Weird!, children can see bullying situations from a person who is being bullied and learn how to overcome this hardship with the support of caring friends and adults.
The moral of the story: Don’t let someone else’s thoughts take away your special personality. Choose to be YOU!
Topics covered: Bullying; Adult Support; Self-Acceptance; Facing Challengess
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): Weird on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: Dare! by Erin Frankel
A short summary of the book: Jayla’s classmate Sam used to bully her for being “nerdy” and loving astronomy. Sam is bullying Jayla’s friend Luisa now, and she wants Jayla to help her. Jayla is relieved that she isn’t the target of Sam’s mean remarks and decides to join Sam, but she realizes quickly that this choice was a bad one. Jayla receives help from adults and peers who care about her, and she finds the courage to stand up to Sam to finally stop the bullying.
Why I like the book: Dare! is the second book in Erin Frankel’s series about the different perspectives of bullying, entitled Weird!. In this book, she helps students process what it means to be the bystander in a bullying situation. Many books are written towards the person being bullied or the bully but not many are directed specifically to the bystander. This is a great book to add to your classroom bookshelf!
The moral of the story: You CAN make a difference when you witness bullying.
Topics covered: Bullying; Guilt; Courage; Facing Challenges
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): Dare! on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman
A short summary of the book: Sam is a third grade girl. She wants to keep things in order and likes to be known as “cool” at school. Sam believes that everyone should fit in, and they just need to be tough to do so. When being “tough”, Sam often uses hurtful words towards others. She teases a classmate Luisa for being unique and tries to get her friend Jayla to help. Sam’s teacher and Jayla confront her about her bullying, and eventually Sam begins to reconsider how she should treat those around her.
Why I like the book: Tough! is the third book in the series Weird! by Erin Frankel. This story highlights bullying from the bully’s perspective. Students, especially those who bully or have in the past, can learn how to face their own challenges while realizing that bullying is not how one should treat others. Reading the entire series Weird! helps create a cohesive understanding of bullying for students and how they should react from each perspective.
The moral of the story: Being kind to others is more important than being tough.
Topics covered: Bullying; Kindness; Facing Challenges; Mindset Shift
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): Tough! on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: Bully by Patricia Pollaco
A short summary of the book: Lyla and Jamie become great friends on the first day of sixth grade. Lyla makes the cheerleading team, and the “popular girls” invite her to join them. Lyla realizes that Jamie is left behind. She sees them teasing Jamie and other classmates on Facebook, and she knows that being a part of their friend group isn’t for her. The popular girls don’t stop easily though and are now out for revenge.
Why I like the book: This book speaks to a very relevant topic in today’s society– cyberbullying. Students now have so much more complex bullying situations to decipher, and Patricia Pollaco rises to the occasion with Bully. In the end, she displays a girl who chooses to stand up for her friend despite the potential repercussions.
The moral of the story: Cyberbullying is still bullying, and it’s wrong.
Topics covered: Bullying; Cliques; Online Bullying; Cyberbullying
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): Bully on Amazon
WE'RE ALL WONDERS
Title of Book and Author: We’re All Wonders by RJ Palacio
A short summary of the book: Auggie is the main character in We’re All Wonders. He only has one eye. Auggie tells how it feels when he is treated poorly because of his facial difference. His mom tells him that he is a “wonder”, and he encourages children to recognize that all have their own “wonder” too.
Why I like the book: This is a great book to introduce bullying to young students. The illustrations are cartoon-like and sure to help keep readers engaged. The examples and explanations the main character gives are direct and helpful for young minds to process the topic with ease.
The moral of the story: Be respectful of others’ differences and find your own “wonder”.
Topics covered: Empathy; Kindness; Diversity; Bullying; Respect; Compassion
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): We're all wonders on Amazon
THE INVISIBLE BOY
Title of Book and Author: The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig
A short summary of the book: Brian feels like an invisible boy. No one ever seems to notice him or choose to include him in their events or groups. All of this changes when a new boy joins the class. Brian is the first student to welcome Justin, and they soon begin to work together on assistments. Brian begins to stand out for his act of kindness.
Why I like the book: This book highlights the small ways that kindness can impact others and help them feel included. It is a great book to have one hand to address the needs of quieter children in your classroom or school.
The moral of the story: Don’t overlook the potential of a simple act of kindness.
Topics covered: Kindness; Isolation; Loneliness; Acceptance; Friendship
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): The Invisible boy on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson
A short summary of the book: One day at school, Chloe meets her new classmate, Maya. Maya arrives at school with ragged clothing. No one wants to play with Maya, and her classmates keep their distance. They laugh at her clothes, her shoes, and her food. When Maya brings small toys to school, no one plays with her. Sadly, Maya’s classmates start calling her “Never New” because “everything she has comes from a secondhand store.” When Maya doesn’t show up to school for several days, their teacher gives them a kindness lesson that changes the students’ minds - and hearts.
Why I like the book: With beautiful illustrations reminiscent of a Patricia Polacco book, Each Kindness tells the story of how Maya teaches her classmates about empathy. The story’s ending isn’t wrapped up in a bow like most children’s books, but instead, leaves readers with something to ponder. The book motivates readers to be kind, understanding, and inclusive.
The moral of the story: Every small act of kindness counts. We must act with kindness before it’s too late.
Topics covered: Kindness; Socio-economic Status; Inclusion
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): Each Kindness on Amazon
Resources about Bullying
Pair your favorite children’s books about bullying with these SEL activities to make the perfect classroom lessons. I use this FREE Behavior Intervention Toolbox: Bullying that helps to identify and intervene with bullying behaviors.
Character Education: Digital Citizenship is a fantastic resource! It covers Cyberbullying, online safety, social media kindness, and digital etiquette. This resource is an easy print and go or digital learning tool.
The best way to teach kids about not bullying is to teach them the behavior you want to see them do, show kindness. This activity below is included in the Character Education: Kindness resource, with tons of activities, posters, supplementals, lessons, and more.
Find Books on Different Topics
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