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Both Sides of Bullying

The award-winning team of Jacqueline Woodson and E.B. Lewis tackles bullying from behind a bully’s eyes.

Each Kindness ($16.99, Nancy Paulson Books, ages 5-8), an exceptional children’s picture book written by Jacqueline Woodson with illustrations by E.B. Lewis, will touch you and your children in ways you hadn’t expected and that’s a good thing, a very good thing.

Asking us to walk in a bully’s shoes, in this case narrator Chloe’s, author Woodson takes us down a path of a child’s unkindness that is certain to strike a chord. How many of us have been in young Chloe’s position choosing not to befriend someone based on appearances only to regret that decision when it was too late? Can we imagine the pain the bullied child feels?

When a new student, Maya, joins Chloe’s class and is seated beside her, Chloe turns toward the window, ignoring Maya’s friendly smile. Why? Simply because her clothes were tattered. Though Maya makes many gestures to become friends with Chloe and the other kids, they continue to whisper about her second-hand clothing and ostracize her, never once thinking how hurtful those actions might be.

One day, well into the school year the teacher, Ms. Albert, gives a seemingly simple yet ultimately powerful lesson using a bowl of water and a small stone dropped in. She explains how kindness works. “Every little thing we do goes out, like a ripple, into the world.”  Unfortunately for Chloe she realizes too late that she, like that tiny stone’s ripples, could have had a positive effect on another person. Maya does not return to school and that chance is lost forever.

Though Maya’s family circumstances are never clearly explained, this worked for me and perhaps is deliberate. Maya becomes symbolic of all those vulnerable children often targeted by bullies whether it be for financial reasons, a disability or just not having the right clothing. Between its lyrical text and the marvelously moving watercolors, Each Kindness provides an opportunity for parents and educators to broach the topic of bullying from both the perspective of the bully and the bullied.  This meaningful and moving book is a must-have that is certain to make a difference in many a youngster’s life.

Today’s reviewer is Ronna Mandel.

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Fridays Featuring Flintridge – Basics on Bullies

Today Catherine Linka shares her picks of …


STORIES ABOUT BULLIES

Bullying takes all forms from power plays to violence, and most children today will run into it. They may be the victims or merely onlookers or they may turn out to be the bullies. Writers are tackling this phenomenon with books for all different age groups. The styles and tone of these books are all different so you can pick the book that seems right for your child. We aren’t going to stamp out bullying, but the right book can give a child the tools or reassurance he or she needs to cope.

 

THE BULLY BOOK ($16.99, Harper Collins) by Eric Kahn Gale

Perfect for 5th-7th grade readers. An average kid gets bullied and tracks down an instructional manual for bullies. Excerpts from the actual manual interspersed with text are especially interesting. A book that kids will really feel is true to their own experiences. Shows how bullying doesn’t have to be personal or something the target brought on. (Ages 8-12 years old)

 

WONDER ($15.99, Knopf Books For Young Readers) by R J Palacio

This book reminds me of A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY. The main character is a fifth grade boy who was born disfigured and is attending school for the first time. Told in several voices including those of his classmates and sibling. He has great impact on those around him. Palacio shows the emotions and reactions of everyone he has to deal with. Kids can see there are two sides to every story. Great discussion book. (Ages 8+) Adult readers LOVE this book.  NOTE:  Click here to read Good Reads With Ronna’s Amanda Hogg review of this terrific book

 

COLIN FISCHER by Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stentz

Colin is a genius with Asperger’s syndrome and a penchant for mystery-solving. He is bullied, but ends up proving his bully’s innocence in a crime. Funny and sarcastic –supportive parents, but annoying younger brother.  Alternative for younger teens to THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHTTIME. Vague reference to oral sex.  The first in a series. (Ages 12+) November publication date

 

PLAYGROUND by 50 Cent (Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson)

I got interested in Curtis after seeing Oprah interview him. He was thoughtful, not bombastic. PLAYGROUND is a semi-autobiographical novel. Eighth grader Butterball clocks another student in the mouth with a sockful of batteries and is court-ordered into therapy. This is bullying from the bully’s perspective. Butterball has reasons for his actions, but he’s also pressured into fighting by peers. Great discussion book for teens. Urban setting. Language. Sexuality. (fall paperback)

 

DEAR BULLY: 70 Authors Tell Their Stories ($9.99, HarperTeen) by Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones

So many teen authors have dealt with bullying personally, they joined together and wrote an anthology of their own stories. Check out www.dearbully.com to see if one of your teen’s favorite writers is included and to read a story or two. Book is available in paperback in stores now. (Ages 14+)

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