Bullying is a difficult subject, and none of us wants their children to be picked on or left out. But there are some great books to help parents, teenagers and children build resilience and show compassion for others. Here's our pick of the best ones...
You, Me and Empathy by Jayneen Sanders, illustrated by Sofia Cardoso
Using verse, beautiful illustrations and a little person called Quinn, this charming story looks at the meaning of empathy, which is one of the most important skills we can learn. Sharing the story with a child acts as a good starting point for talking about how others might be feeling and how positive it is to show compassion. Also included are discussion questions for parents and teachers, and suggested activities to promote empathy and kindness.
Seeds and Trees by Brandon Walden, illustrated by Kristen and Kevin Howdeshell
This lovely story lets children see how powerful words can be. It’s the tale of a young prince who plants seeds he gains from words that are spoken. Some are good and some are bad – and the message is not to let the bad ones take root. The good seeds will create a beautiful garden. Seeds and Trees aims to encourage children to offer kindness towards themselves and others, and to face difficult situations with confidence.
Giraffe is Left Out by Sue Graves, illustrated by Trevor Dunton
When Leopard arrives at Jungle School, Giraffe tries to exclude him from joining in. So when Leopard has a birthday party, he doesn’t invite Giraffe. Slowly, Giraffe understands how Leopard must have felt when he started school. This colourful book helps children discover constructive ways to deal with feeling left out and bullied, and find healthy ways to handle their emotions. Questions for discussion allow readers to process what they’ve learned and how it relates to their own lives.
The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q Rauf
Aimed at eight to 11-year-olds, this wonderful book gives a child’s perspective on the difficult subject of refugees. It tells the story of nine-year-old Ahmet, who sits at the back of the class. He never talks, never smiles and doesn’t even like sweets. So a group of children hit on a plan to befriend him. Told with tenderness and humour, this touching book highlights the importance of friendship and kindness in a world that doesn’t always make sense.
The Peaceful Lion and the Nagging Crow by AM Marcus, illustrated by Malgorzata Godziuk
With its striking illustrations, this inspiring fable helps children realise that they don’t have to get angry and upset when faced with teasing and the bad behaviour of others. Staying calm is a choice they can make. The crow repeatedly tries to annoy the lion, but the peaceful lion doesn’t rise to the bait. Finally the nagging crow decides to speak to the lion – and that’s when he learns about the power of choice.
Sleepovers by Jacqueline Wilson, illustrated by Nick Sharratt
Amy, Bella, Chloe, Daisy and Emily have their own club. When the girls begin planning sleepover parties for their birthdays, Daisy is dreading her own – she doesn’t know what her friends will make of her rather special older sister. A superb handling of the intricacies of young, female friendship, and the joys and problems of having an older sister with learning disabilities, from one of our most accomplished authors.
Autism, Bullying and Me by Emily Lovegrove
This invaluable guidebook, which is aimed at children and teens with autism aged 10 to 18, is good for everyone. Written in a friendly, accessible style, it sorts fact from fiction, debunking myths such as ‘bullying makes you stronger’ and ‘ignore it and it will stop’. Young people can learn coping mechanisms and techniques that enable them to respond to bullying calmly and with confidence, and helps them to feel positive about who they are.
Stand Up for Yourself & Your Friends by Patti Kelley Criswell
With tips that include wise words to use with bullies, smart ways to ignore them, and solid advice on getting an adult’s help when needed, girls can discover how to make the world a safer, happier place for themselves and their friends. They will be able to recognise bullying – and be prepared to handle it – and there’s a quiz to learn their ‘speak-up’ style, as well as great advice from girls who have been in similar situations.
Bullies, Bigmouths and So-Called Friends by Jenny Alexander
When it comes to bullying, the usual advice of ‘say something smart’ is bound to fail. No-one can act brave if they feel helpless inside. Jenny Alexander’s approach is to develop readers’ psychological defences. Through an entertaining mix of exercises, quizzes and fictional scenarios, she combines common sense with simple cognitive therapy techniques, to build up children’s self-esteem. This new, updated edition takes account of technologies such as texting, MSN and bluejacking, which are increasingly abused by bullies.
Stay Strong! by Sharie Coombes, illustrated by Katie Abey
This empowering activity book is by Dr Sharie Coombes, a child and family psychologist. With an intro and notes for grown-ups, it has fun illustrations and encouraging activities that tackle the feelings of being bullied and overwhelmed. Children will enjoy using their creativity to combat negative feelings and work out how to cope with these emotions through writing, doodling and drawing. Or they can simply dip into the pages for 10 minutes of calm colouring.
The Friendship Maze by Tanith Carey
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.
The Truth About Bullying by Norry Ascroft
Moved by the story of a 13-year-old girl who took her own life as a result of being bullied, trained human behaviour expert Norry Ascroft works to help parents, teachers and children overcome the problem of bullying. In this informative guide, written in a clear, easy to read style, he looks at the psychology of bullying – what motivates the bully, and how to deal with the emotional pain that their behaviour causes.