12 of the best books on bullying for children and parents

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  • Reading some of the best books on bullying for children can really help start the conversation about a difficult subject.

    The stories we read, hear and watch when growing up go on to have a significant impact. Dr Carla Runchman, Clinical Psychologist tells us; “There so many different types of bullying, and it is such an emotive topic as it speaks to some of our very most vulnerable memories of fragile friendships, or our own experiences of being sidelined, pushed out, teased or worse at school.”

    She goes on to tell us; “If your child is struggling with bullies at school, it might evoke memories that leave us as parents feeling anxious on behalf of our children. On the flip side, if we found friendships easy as children, we might not know how to help our child who is being bullied.” 

    Either way, it’s tricky to navigate and we’ve found some of the best books about bullying to help parents, teenagers and children build resilience and show compassion for others. Here’s our pick of 12 of the best ones….

    12 of the best books on bullying for children and parents

    1. The Smeds and The Smoos by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

    dark blue book cover with an illusstration of a red and blue alien holding hands

    Credit: Alison Green Books

    Age suitability: 2-6 years

    As best books on bullying for children go this is the number 1 best seller on Amazon. This 5 star rated book – which has had over 9500 ratings – is about two aliens who conquer all with empathy and love. From family favourite author of The Gruffalo, Jula Donaldson. Dr Carla Runchman, Clinical Psychologist tells us: “This a lovely, fun book to spark conversations about differences, tricky relationships and the importance of kindness.”

    VIEW AT AMAZON | £4

    2. Be Kind By Pat Zietlow Miller

    blue cover with an image of two girls one carrying a yellow umbrella over her and another girl

    Credit: Macmillan children’s books

    Age suitability: 3-6 years

    What does it mean to be kind? When Tanisha spills grape juice all over her new dress, her classmate contemplates how to make her feel better and what it means to be kind. From asking the new girl to play to standing up for someone being bullied, this moving and thoughtful story explores what a child can do to be kind.

    This story received a whopping 4.8 out of 5 star rating on Amazon, and has had rave reviews. One reviewer says: “We love this book. It inspires really great discussions with my 4.5 yr old and really gets him thinking. I pull it out every once in a while when I feel as though he needs a good reminder about what kindness looks like. He always seems moved by the end of the story and I usually get a good hug from him. I love that it has such an effect on him!”

    3. Llama Llama and The Bully Goat By Anna Dewdney

    red book cover with illustartion of a llama and a goat

    Credit: Viking Press Inc.

    Age suitability: 2-5 years

    Part of the popular Llama Llama series, this book sees Llama Llama and his friends cannot enjoy their school day because Gilroy Goat is being a bully. 

    He laughs at the other animals during circle time, and he calls Llama Llama a “not-nice name” when he tries to sing. Although Gilroy’s teacher tries to correct his behaviour, the bullying continues into play time until Llama calls him a Bully Goat. 

    One reviewer says; “This book offers a great lesson on bullying in a fun and entertaining way. It’s helped our daughter learn that bullying is wrong and not only the obvious lesson there but they also speak a lesson of forgiveness. I have probably read this book to my daughter enough times for her to have it memorised!”

    4. The Colour Monster by Anna Llenasv

    white book cover with a scribbled illustration of a green monster with blobs of olcour around him

    Credit: Templar Publishing

    Age suitability: 0-5 years

    As best books on bullying for children go, this is a nice easy read. This 5-star Amazon rated book is about Colour Monster, and how he wakes up one day feeling very confused. His emotions are all over the place; he feels angry, happy, calm, sad and scared all at once! To help him, a little girl shows him what each feeling means through colour.

    Questions it poses are; What is the Colour Monster feeling? And can you help him feel a little less mixed up? It’s a great read and gentle exploration of feelings.

    Dr Carla tells us; “This is a simple book that can open up discussion on emotions and provide an alternative way to talk about difficult feelings in relationship to situations that the child might be finding challenging.”

    VIEW AT AMAZON | £5.94

    5. Wonder by R. J. Palacio

    Bright b lue cover with the illustration of half a face

    Credit: Corgi Childrens

    Age suitability: 9-11 years

    This five-star Amazon rated book is a best-seller. It’s about a boy called Auggie. 

    He wants to be an ordinary ten-year-old. He does ordinary things. But ordinary kids aren’t stared at wherever they go. Born with a terrible facial abnormality, Auggie has been home-schooled by his parents his whole life. 

    Now, for the first time, he’s being sent to a real school – and he’s dreading it. All he wants is to be accepted – but can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, underneath it all? 

    Goodto’s Family Editor Stephanie Lowe says: “I think this will be a great book to read with my son when he’s older to encourage empathy. Though, it’s worth noting that some kids use hateful language, and some people suggest that Auggie is mentally deficient. These situations are upsetting, as are other hardships that Auggie’s family endures, so try to be ready for questions about that.”

    6. I Am Stronger Than Anger by Elizabeth Cole

    blue book cover with an angry by and moneky on the cover

    Credit: Elizabeth Cole

    Age suitability: 0-12 years

    All feelings are okay to have, and we need to make space for all of them, including anger. This book has 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon, and is a best seller. This paperback book has lovely illustrations and a lightly rhyming storyline which helps children to recognise and cope with their anger through communication with zoo animals. 

    It also shares a variety of calming techniques and is aimed to improve kids’ self-regulation skills and teach children to admit their mistakes. One reviewer says: “This story has helped my preschoolers to understand, recognise and deal with their emotions. Very useful picture book which offers fun kids activities and is full of amazing illustrations.” 

    7. Mud Boy: A Story About Bullying By Sarah Siggs

    white book with the image of a girl throwing mud at a scared looking byo in school uniform one of the best books about bullying to read

    Credit: Jessica Kingsley Publishers

    Age suitability: 5-11 years

    As best books on bullying for children go, Mud Boy is an excellent story for children about bullying. It explains the process of bullying really well, particularly the experience of being a victim. I really like how Sarah Siggs has explained the feelings of being victimised and how she uses mud as a metaphor to explain how bullied children can feel stigmatised and become ostracised by their peers.

    Mum-of-four, Tania tells us; “I love how this book also has an easy guide for parents to bring up more talking points by Dr Pooky Knightsmith. It’s all well and good reading the book together, but I then need help with what to say.’

    8. The Boy Who Made Everyone Laugh By Helen Rutter

    blue book with large white writing on a small drawing of a boy

    Credit: Scholastic

    Age suitability: 8-12 years

    As best books on bullying for children go, this is ranked number 6 in the Amazon best sellers. This story is about Billy Plimpton. He’s an eleven-year-old boy with a big dream.

    He wants to be a stand-up comedian when he grows up: and having audiences hang on his every hilarious word. A tough career for anyone, but surely impossible for Billy, who has a stammer. How will he find his voice, if his voice won’t let him speak?

    The idea for this story came from Helen Rutter’s son, who has a stammer: she wanted to write the book that he would love to read, starring a child like him.

    One reviewer says: “Our ten-year old daughter read this novel at school and thoroughly enjoyed it so much that she asked for her own copy to read again in due course, many times. She told me the book is a pleasant, immersive read, with a straightforward, funny but also frank narrative about the challenges of living with a stammer.”

    9. The Boy at The Back of the Class By Onjali Q. Rauf

    blue book with the image of a boy wearing a red backpack one of the best books about bullying

    Credit: Hachette Children’s Group

    Age suitability: 8-12 years

    As best books on bullying for children go, this is a story of friendship, hope and the importance of kindness. This story is full of heart and humour, told from a unique perspective. This is an exceptional book encouraging empathy and understanding. 

    Mum-of-two Jules tells us: “I found reading this book with my nine-year-old daughter a wonderful shared experience. A truly heartwarming book that helps engage children in conversation about how we can all make a difference and how we should all do what we can to promote equality.”

    When a new boy joins their class, a group of children try to befriend him. They soon learn that Ahmet is a refugee and has been separated from his family. None of the grown-ups seem to be able to help him, so the friends come up with a daring plan, embarking on an extraordinary adventure.

    10. Meesha Makes Friends by Percival Tom

    Blue book Meesha makes friends one of the 11 best bullying books

    Credit: Bloomsbury Children’s Books

    Age suitability: 2-5 years

    Meesha loves making things . . . but there’s one thing she finds difficult to make – friends. She doesn’t quite know what to do, what to say or when to say it. 

    As best books about bullying go, this beautifully illustrated, heart-warming picture book is perfect for children who find it difficult or overwhelming, socialising and trying to make friends. It also helps children learn the skills to reach out to a child in need of a friend.

    Dad-of-one, Matt tells us; “My daughter and I enjoyed reading this book together and discussing the signs that someone may need a friend and what things to say and do to help. I love that this book opens up this topic to discuss with our children.”

    11. Brighter Futures: A Parents’ Guide to Raising Happy, Confident Children In The Primary School Years

    yellow book with pencil drawing of school friends makes oe of the best books about bullying to read

    Credit: Free Association Books

    Maybe your child is struggling to live life to the full. Perhaps worries are holding them back? Maybe they are finding friendships tricky? Maybe teachers have raised concerns that something is getting in the way of your child being happy or fulfilling their potential at school? The team of clinical psychologists guide you through exactly what to do, from figuring out the roots of the problem, to making and reviewing a manageable plan of action.

    This book is one of the best books about bullying as it also covers specific sections on: Anxiety, Friendships and Bullying, Self Esteem, Anger and Frustration, School Related Stress, and Concentration and Motivation.

    Dr Carla tells us; “This is an excellent, supportive book for parents written by a team of clinical psychologists, has a chapter on friendships and bullying; how to support your child if they are struggling with friendships, or if you worry they are being targeted by bullying behaviour.”

    VIEW AT AMAZON | £14.99

    12. The Friendship Maze by Tanith Carey

    Image of the book The friendship maze, with a pacman illustration

    Credit: Vie

    As best books on bullying for children go, this is corker of a book for parents to read. These days, unkind or exclusive behaviour among children appears to be starting sooner than ever – even in nursery school.

    As a result, friendship issues top the list of parents’ concerns, and, from the other side of the school gates, they can often feel powerless. Packed with tips and advice, this book looks at the challenges children face when navigating friendships. Summary sections at the end of each chapter will help you to support your child.