The issues associated with bullying have been the topic of many class discussions over recent years. As with anything I teach, I try to find an anchor book as a starting point for these discussions. Here are two of my more recent top picks for stimulating important connections, questions and conversations about bullying.
Bully, by the prolific Patricia Polacco, is an excellent choice for middle school students. This book, which came out last year, is the first one I have come across that addresses the issue of cyber bullying with references to Facebook and texting. Because it is so current, it felt more credible when I read this to the older students. It is a longer read, but the characters and story are so believable and the connections kids made, whether it was to the bully or the bullied, were thoughtful and heartfelt. The story ends with the question: What would you do? – the perfect segue into a class discussion. I would highly recommend this book if you are a parent or teacher of tweens and teens.
Bully – by Laura Vacarro Seeger (Green, First the Egg, Lemons are Not Red ) is both tender and heartfelt but with a good deal of humor. The”Bully Bull” character doesn’t have a kind word to say to any of his friends, calling them “Chicken!” and “Slowpoke!” and telling them “You Stink!”. This, I’m sure, would stimulate several giggles from younger primary students. Goat eventually stands up to Bully and tells him to stop being mean and Bully Bull eventually stops. The story is relatively simple with minimal text but what I appreciated in this book is the subtle way Seeger uses the position and size of the Bull on the page to help tell the story. This would be a great anchor book for practicing inferring with younger students. As Bully Bull moves across the pages, expanding and deflating as the story unfolds, inferences can be made as to how Bully Bull’s feelings change as he looses his bully power.