Ruth Spivak: Kiducation


Six Books To Help You And Your Kids Talk About Bullying

"Bibliotherapy" Opens Up Conversations On A Difficult Topic

Amanda Todd's tragic death and final YouTube video has touched parents and kids all over the world. Her heartbreaking story is sadly all too familiara child repeatedly tormented by bullies, while bystanders cheered on or looked away. We struggle to understand how kids can be so cruel, and what we can do to protect our children. Talking with our children about bullying is not always easysometimes it's painful for kids and parents to share personal experiences, and sometimes there's a lack of understanding about the intricacies of bullying.

Books can be of great help. By digging into characters and plots, you and your kids can explore and discuss bullying from various angles. "Bibliotherapy" works well with fiction books, because they provide a needed distance to talk about problems and to learn from a range of outcomes.

It's never too early or too late to start talking about bullying, so I've selected books from preschool to high school. Read them out loud, or read them silently. Together discuss, share, analyze, and question.

Preschool-Grade 3

Middle School

  • THE HUNDRED DRESSES, by Eleanor Estes: Wanda is a poor immigrant, who wears the same blue faded dress every day. After Wanda insists she owns one hundred dresses at home, her classmates tease and bully her. Nobody bothered to know Wanda, but by the end of the book, Maddie wishes she had.
  • BLUBBER, by Judy Blume: "Blubber is a good name for her," Wendy's note said. Before long, the note made its way around the class, and Linda's life at school became a living hell. This book delves deep into the class pecking-order and into the mindset of the victim and the bully. Incredibly astute.

High School

  • LORD OF THE FLIES, by William Golding: What would happen if teenage boys were stranded on an island away from grown-ups?  Would remorse and compassion prevail over evil impulses? Although some scenes are disturbing (not more than the Hunger Games), this book is an excellent springboard  to discuss the nature of evil, bullying, and group dynamics.
  • SPEAK, by Laurie Halse Anderson: High School student Melinda is ostracized by her classmates for calling the police to a party.  As she becomes increasingly friendless and isolated, she almost stops speaking completely. When the tragedy of her rape comes back to haunt her, she finally refuses to be silenced. An important message about standing up for oneself, about finding one's voice, and about paying attention to others' silent cries for help.

I know this list is far from complete. Please, feel free to share books from your list with other readers here.