Bullying is a problem that every school faces. It can affect any child at any time, and in many ways. We will go over anti-bullying picture books, first look below fora few statistics from the National Bullying Prevention Center.
Unfortunately there is no simple answer to this problem. However one way that librarians and teachers can help to combat this problem is by reading picture books about bullying and the importance of kindness. By doing this students can begin to learn the warning sings of bullying and understand how their actions have consequences. It will also get them thinking about the importance of kindness and being accepting of other people.
My List for Anti-Bullying Picture Books
There are so many wonderful books to read that it is difficult to know which ones to choose. I gathered a list of 10 anti-bullying picture books that I feel do an excellent job of exploring these concepts to students. I think it is equally important to share stories that only talk about bullying but that show the importance of kindness and acceptance.This is by no means a comprehensive list. And even though they are picture books, students of all ages can benefit from reading and listening to them.
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Llama Llama and the Bully Goat by Anna Dewdney: Like all the Llama Llama books, this is a gentle story that can be read with preschool and early elementary students. Llama Llama is being teased at school. But he remembers a lesson his teacher taught him: walk away and tell an adult. The book teaches students that bullying is wrong. It also touches on forgiveness when Llama Llama forgives Goat for teasing him.
One by Kathryn Otoshi: Blue gets picked on by Red. The other colors see this but don’t know what to do, even though they know it is wrong. But then someone new comes to town, One. One shows the colors how to stand up for themselves and accept each other for their differences. This is a simple story with a powerful message.
Super Manny Stands Up! by Kelly DiPucchio: This anti-bullying picture book was published in 2017 so it is one you may not be familiar with. Manny is a raccoon who likes to wear capes and practice being a superhero. When he goes to school he uses an invisible cape to give him the courage to stand up to a bully who is picking on another student in the cafeteria. This prompts the other students to use their imaginary capes to help defeat the bully. This book will not only open up a discussion on bullying but about courage and standing up to help someone else.
Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson: This is one of my favorite books. It is by Jacqueline Woodson, an extraordinary author whose stories touch on many topics that are difficult to teach and discuss with children. There is another one of her books further down on this list. The book is about two girls, Chloe and Maya. Maya is new to the school and wants to make friends. But Chloe is not very kind to Maya. Then one day Maya stops coming to school. Chloe’s teacher gives a lesson on kindness and how one simple kind act can make a huge impact on a person’s life. This is a book that many students will be able to identify with. They will know what it is like to be treated meanly by a classmate and understand the feelings involved. There are so many opportunities for discussion in this book and it can be read to students in all grade levels.
The Juice Box Bully: Empowering Kids to Stand Up for Others by Bob Sornson: This anti-bullying picture book would appeal more to older elementary students (grades 2-5). This is a story about Pete, a new boy who is having trouble fitting in. Pete is a bully. He quickly learns though that his new classmates have made a promise to their teacher. They promised to always be kind and to stick up for each other, to not be a bystander. What I like most about this book is the message it teaches about the importance of speaking up when you see something that you know isn’t right. And it also shows students a way to handle bullying behavior. Personal note: while I love the message in this book, I am not a fan of the illustrations.
Enemy Pie by Derek Munson: This story is about a boy who does not like the the new kid in the neighborhood. His dad tells him that the secret of getting rid of enemies is to bake enemy pie. But he must spend one day with his enemy in order for the pie to work. And after a day spent playing together the two boys become friends, not enemies. It teaches an important lesson about not judging people before you get to know them.
Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell: Molly Lou looks different than the other kids. She is short and has big teeth and funny voice. But her grandmother has taught her to be proud of who she is. When Molly Lou goes to a new school there is one boy who constantly teases her. But Molly Lou ignores him and shows everyone how special she is. This anti-bullying picture book is about acceptance: acceptance of other people despite their differences and acceptance of yourself as well.
Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed by Emily Pearson: Mary is an ordinary little girl whose random act of kindness sets off a chain reaction. This is a simple book with an inspiring message. It shows students how powerful one act of kindness can be. This anti-bullying book encourages conversation about the importance of being kind. It will also get students thinking about ways they can be kind in their own lives.
The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi: Unhei just moved to America from Korea and is worried about starting school. She tells the other students that she does not have a name yet, she will choose a name for herself the following week. The class wants to help her select a new name. By the end of the story Unhei proudly chooses to keep her Korean name. This book is about acceptance and friendship and embracing other cultures.
The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson: This book is about two little girls, who live on different sides of a fence. Annie is white and Clover is black. The girls become curious about each other and wonder why they are not allowed to play together. Slowly the girls become friends. This is a beautiful story that introduces the concepts of racism and discrimination in a way that even your youngest students will understand. Students will see how friendship can overcome fear and prejudice. One of my favorite things about this book is how it can be shared with all grade levels.