Bullying tears down a child’s confidence and peace of mind, interfering with everything from engagement with school to relationships with family. As a parent or caregiver, you can use stories to help your child learn how to respond to bullies in healthy ways. Joanne and Arrica Rose Scaglione, in “Bully-Proofing Children: A Practical, Hands-On Guide to Stop Bullying,” explain that “reading or hearing stories about others in the same situation can be comforting” for children who experience bullying. Stories also help children who have been acting as bullies see their behavior from another point of view.
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For young children, choose from a number of picture books that address the issue of bullying. Kenneth Shore, in “The ABC’s of Bullying Prevention: A Comprehensive Schoolwide Approach,” recommends two picture books authored by Stan Berenstain. In the first, “The Berenstain Bears and the Bully,” Sister Bear has to learn how to resist a bullying young neighbor bear, while in “The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Teasing,” Brother Bear at first torments his sister with teasing but then finds himself on the receiving end of teasing and learns how painful it can be. Other picture books that explore how to deal with bullies include Eve Bunting’s “Riding the Tiger,” Munro Leaf’s “The Story of Ferdinand," Sam Swope’s “The Araboolies of Liberty Street” and Bill Peet’s “Big Bad Bruce.”
Many fiction books for older children examine the problem of bullying in thoughtful ways. For example, Van Draanen’s “Shreddreman” explores how to respond to bullies in the story of a fifth-grader who creatively resists a school bully. Shore also suggests Judy Blume’s “Blubber,” which follows a bully who learns how painful teasing can be when one of her friends becomes the center of ridicule. The classic novel “Charlotte’s Web,” by E. B. White, captures the pain and isolation that results from bullying as well as the importance of true friendships. Other fiction books that focus on the problem of bullying include Louis Sachar’s “There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom,” Mary Downing Hahn’s “Stepping on the Cracks,” Marilyn Sachs’s “The Bear’s House” and Bruce Brooks's “What Hearts.”
You can also find a number of recordings that bring stories about bullying to life for children. For example, Shore recommends “Broken Toy,” created by Lucky Duck Publishing and produced by the National Center for Youth Issues. Suggested for children in grades 4 to 6, the story in “Broken Toy” focuses on a group of bullies who go too far in their torment of a 12-year-old boy. Also appropriate for elementary school children, those in grades 3 to 8, AIMS Multimedia’s “Bullying: Not Just a Guy Thing” centers on a young girl who is bullied by other girls at her school. For older children, grades 5 to 12, Bullfrog Films’ nonverbal, animated “Bully Dance” tells a story that shows how bullying affects a whole community.