Best books for kids on bullying: bibliotherapy and bully-busting children's literature

It’s not the most pleasant way to start the school year, but back to school orientation cover bullying and bully buster tips. First, it's important to understand that bullying isn’t just the stereotype from the Charles Atlas ad, where the big guy kicks sand in the little guy's face while the dismayed girl looks on.
Bullying prevention back then was flawed too. "Frail, puny" boys were exhorted to build up their muscles, take on the bully and impress the girl. Dubious motive aside, it wrongly implies that "might makes right." Coping with persecutors is about inner fortitude not brute strength.

Even the term bullying prevention is misleading. It suggests that the bullied are responsible for making bullies stop bullying. But harassment happens to people in all sizes, colors and orientations. People don't do anything to make themselves targets. Bullies bully because they can. True prevention tells bullies they can't and punishes them when they do.

Here's a list of children's literature books on bullying to teach kids what bullying is, what it feels like and what to do if they are bullied. Bullying prevention happens in clever, avant-garde ways. Through gentle bibliotherapy, children see bullying for the cowardice it is. These children's literature books help kids laugh at bullies, diffuse the pain and get past victimization to the find the chutzpah they need to deal with their tormentors.

"Hooway for Wodney Wat" by Helen Lester. Poor timid Wodney Wat (Rodney Rat) can barely "squeak clearly" to his friends, let alone to big mean Camilla Capybara. But when the mouse-sized hero is forced to take on Camilla, rodent to rodent, everyone at P.S.182 School for Rodents hears the bully buster loud and clear. This is one of the most endearing children's literature books on bullying ever.

"The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig" by Eugene Trivizas. This fractured fairy tale is the funniest of the children's literature books on bullying and one of the most humorous ever. And therein lies the bibliotherapy for kids. There's a lesson to be learned when three gentle, peace-loving little wolves teach one pyromaniac pig bully to dance.

"A Bargain for Francis" by Russel and Lillian Hoban. The redoubtable Francis badger brings off a scathingly brilliant coup against her devious, double-dealing sometime-friend often-times bully Thelma. Bully buster Francis gets the prize for best plot twist in children's literature books on bullying.

"Ira Sleeps Over" by Bernard Waber. Ira loves his teddy Ta-Ta. When he's invited stay the night at his friend Reggie's house, his bullying big sister convinces him that "Reggie will laugh" at boys with bears. But Ira and Ta-Ta have the last laugh on sister.

"The Bully of Barkham Street" by Mary Stolz is a tender, heart-jerking look at how a bully is grown. It's bullying prevention from the roots up. In this bibliotherapy, children may find themselves sympathizing with the bully.

"Mouse Soup" by Arnold Lobel. Fox wants to make soup out of Mouse, but Mouse pulls a Scheherazade and makes mincemeat of Fox. Children will howl as the bully gets his comeuppance.

"The House on East 88th Street" by Bernard Waber teaches people not to judge a bully or a bully buster by his cover. You couldn't ask for a nicer neighbor than Lyle the crocodile than Lyle, but the Loretta the cat next door is terrified of him. Read how Lyle befriends the fractious feline. Check out Lyle's other adventures in diplomacy too.

"Thomas the Tank Engine" by Rev. W. Awdry. A little engine is alternately the bullied then the bully. Will rascally Thomas ever learn that bigger isn't always better? Kids learn many important lessons watching cheeky Thomas fail and rethink his choices.

"Emil and the Detectives" by Erich Kastner. Young Emil is stalked by some very fierce men with nasty intentions, but this sensible, prescient but boy takes them on and saves the day.

"Go Away Big Green Monster" by Ed Emberley. In what might be the most proactive and interactive of kids books, children take down a monster of a bully one piece at at time!

Read these books for kids to explore creative bully buster ideas. They may not prevent all issues but they will help children have a clearer idea how to deal with tormentors.


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Freelance writer, Top 100 Yahoo! Voices, Yahoo! News, Shine, Michigan, Detroit), blogger, teacher, mom of 4, happily married 25 years. Graduated GVSU 1986, psychology/general education and special education. continuing ed up to present. Certified MI teacher. Writing Michigan history mystery, children's Gothic fantasy. Areas of expertise: education, relationships, mental health, nutrition, history, world cultures. Passions: faith, Catholic church, sustainable living, interfaith initiatives, living simply that others might simply live. Working on MA in EI education. 

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