Bullying as a national hot-button concern reached a zeitgeist tipping point in 2010. A tragedy was unfolding as the media related devastating news of children committing suicide because of the bullying they experienced. An unconscionable, unimaginable, and unbelievable thought to any parent, that a beloved child would be bullied so badly by peers that he or she took his own life to escape the pain.
Bullying has always happened, is happening, and will continue to happen – and we must educate ourselves and our children about how best to identify, understand, and deal with it. Engaged and mindful parenting around this issue is required to raise children who are likewise mindful.
There is a tremendous amount of media available that addresses the issue of bullying -- from Anderson Cooper’s recent special report “Bullying, It Stops Here” to the ongoing It Gets Better Project to the raft of websites, policy-making, publications, and other information on the subject. These sources can be very helpful to educate you and your older children, but bullying doesn’t just spring up suddenly like an unfortunate case of acne when kids hit adolescence. The behaviors that lead to bullying start as early as preschool. Fortunately, there’s an easy way to start a conversation with your younger children about bullying and the emotions associated with both bullies and their victims.
Read to them.
Here are some excellent books to get you started engaging in creative and critically important dialogue with your child about bullying.
26 books about bullying for younger children:
Most of these authors have written several books aimed at cultivating empathy and respect for others, and they talk forthrightly about elements of bullying or depict what it is like to be bullied. In some cases these books deal with emotions that can result from, or lead to, bullying, and they provide an excellent framework for talking to your children about how to deal with attendant emotions and interactions.
1. Amanda Pig on Her Own by Jean Van Leeuwen
2. Dora’s Box by Ann-Jeanette Campbell
3. Baseball Saved Us by Ken Mochizuki
4. The Gardener by Sarah Stewart
5. A Bad Case of Tattle Tongue by Julia Cook
6. The Brand New Kid by Katie Couric
7. Surviving Brick Johnson By Laurie Myers
8. Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
9. Rosie’s Story by Martine Gogoll
10. Oliver Button Is a Sissy by Tomie de Paola
11. How to Lose All Your Friends by Nancy Carlson
12. The Meanest Thing to Say by Bill Cosby
13. Enemy Pie by Derek Munson
14. The Hundred Dresses by Elinor Estes
15. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
16. Angel Child, Dragon Child by Michele Maria Surat
17. The Ant Bully by John Nickle
18. The Honest-to-Goodness Truth by Patricia C. McKissack
19. I Speak English for My Mom by Muriel Stanek
20. The Magic Fan by Keith Baker
21. Believing Sophie by Hazel Hutchins
22. Crickwing by Janell Cannon
23. How to Fight a Girl by Thomas Rockwell
24. A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon
25. Judy Moody by Megan McDonald
26. The Summer My Father Was Ten by Pat Brisson
4 books for children, second grade and up:
As far as I am concerned, buy anything that Northwest native Trudy Ludwig writes -- her books are realistic and they break down a complex subject for kids without being condescending.
As your child gets older, Confessions of a Former Bully becomes a go-to on the subject.