October is Bullying Prevention Month, although it should be year-round. Many students return to school in September, sometimes to new schools which can cause problems. Many times bullying results from someone being perceived as different, uncool, ugly, fat, or any other way that make a person seem to "stand out." Most bullies at some point have been bullied themselves. Unfortunately, bullying is all too common, especially with social media. These days bullying isn’t just happening in the hallways of school but on the internet, where pictures and videos have a more far-reaching audience.
When something is happening in our world and society, writers begin to reflect that in their stories. Luckily for children, this shows them they’re not alone and gives them tips on dealing with these situations. No one’s situation is ever like someone else’s, so no one solution will work for all. Here are just a sample of children’s books that deal with bullying.
Thornhill by Pam Smy
(Fiction, 8-12 years)
This half diary, half wordless graphic novel, follows two young girls 35 years apart. Mary is a quiet orphan living in Thornhill Institute for Children. Mary has a passion for puppets based on her favorite book, The Secret Garden. We learn through her diary that she is brutally bullied by a fellow orphan who looks sweet on the outside. The bullying that Mary endures is mostly mental, including constant thumping on her bedroom door in the middle of the night.
This book shows that bullying comes in many forms: physical, verbal, mental, and neglect. It also shows that bullies do not always "look the part"; they are sometime nice to others, appear helpful, and are beautiful.
I only wish that Mary had resources to help her combat the bullying in a more effective way. If I were in Mary’s life, I would have recommended some of the books in the American Girl’s series, A Smart Girl’s Guide. These include Middle School, Friendship Troubles, and Drama, Rumors, and Secrets.
Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart
(Fiction, 10-14 years)
Gephart’s Lily and Dunkin are both dealing with not fitting in. Lily is a transgender teen who is still trying to garner the support of all her family, while Dunkin is dealing with his bipolar disorder. These two teens become friends despite the problems they are dealing with on their own. Both Lily and Dunkin are perceived to be different by their peers, which they use as an excuse to bully. Despite how others feel about them, they are confident in who they are and their friendship.
Lily is lucky in that, by the end, her family is very supportive of her, but not all transgendered teens are as fortunate. To learn more, please visit the Human’s Right Campaign’s Transgender Children & Youth: Understanding the Basics. You can also check out some of these great books featuring transgendered characters: I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel, Introducing Teddy: A Gentle Story About Gender and Friendship by Jess Walton, George by Alex Gino, and The Pants Project by Cat Clarke.
If you need more help dealing with bullying please visit these websites:
Too many times bullying can lead to suicide. If you are having suicidal thoughts, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or you can live chat @ suicidepreventionlifeline.org