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Bullying: recommended titles for children and young adults for Anti Bullying Week 2016

Written by · Published Nov 16, 2016

See also: Self-help books on recognising and tackling bullying

For Anti Bullying Week, we’ve put together a list of recommendations for children and young adults on the subject of bullying.

Bullying can be frightening and isolating, so we hope that these titles help young people who are being bullied to feel less alone, and seek help. Even if they’re not being bullied, it’s important for children to understand how it feels to be in such a situation and learn what to do if they experience or witness bullying.

Elmer and the Big Bird, My Brother Bernadette, How to Fly with Broken Wings, The Weight of Water, The Knife that Killed Me, Bullies, Cyberbullies and Frenemies

Picture books

Benedict Blathwayt - Dinosaur Chase!

Fin is a dinosaur unlike any other - teased for his ‘spindly little legs, bony tale and feeble fluffy arms’. Despite his odd appearance, when a gang of four big, bullying dinosaurs chase him into the woods, Fin manages to outwit three of them. But can he beat the meanest and fiercest dinosaur of them all?

Anthony Browne - Willy the Wimp

30 years after its publication, this book is as fresh and relevant as ever. Timid gorilla Willy wouldn’t hurt a fly - he even apologises when someone hits him. The suburban gorillas call him Willy the Wimp. Then, one day, Willy answers a bodybuilding advertisement - with hilarious results!

John Burningham - Avocado Baby

The Hargraves family are plagued by bullies. However, when their new baby discovers avocado, he develops super strength and endurance and puts the bullies in their place.

Kathryn Cave - Something Else

Something Else is a small creature who does his best to join in with the others. But he’s different. No matter how he tries, he just doesn’t belong.

Then Something turns up and wants to be friends. But Something Else isn’t sure he’s like him at all.

A story about exclusion, the most common form of bullying amongst young children, this book deals with difference and the power of friendship. It’s lovely to read, well resolved and an excellent choice.

Ben Clanton - Rex Wrecks It!

Gizmo, Sprinkles and Wild are fed up. Every time they build something with their blocks, Rex wrecks it! Whether it’s an out-of-this-world rocket, a magical heart or the biggest, strongest, most awesomerific castle ever, Rex sends it crashing down with a ‘rawr!’ (and sometimes a sheepish ‘rawry!’). Isn’t there any way to make playtime fun for everyone?

Rex Wrecks It! is well illustrated, jolly and great for conversations about respecting personal space.

Jack Foreman - Say Hello

Based on the author’s childhood experience, this is the story of a boy who is left out and all alone, while other children play happily.

Say Hello is a wonderful and moving picture book about being left out and feeling bullied.

David McKee - Elmer and the Big Bird

One day, Elmer the colourful patchwork elephant notices that there are no birds around. How strange! Soon he finds them hiding from a nasty bully bird in a nearby cave. The bully bird is mean and likes to frighten little birds. Elmer helps the little birds to scare away the bully.

Michael Rosen and Arthur Robins - Little Rabbit Foo Foo

He’s wild, he’s wicked, he’s Little Rabbit Foo Foo! The bully-boy bunny likes nothing better than to ride through the forest bopping everyone on the head. Wriggly worms, tigers, no one is safe. But here comes the Good Fairy - and she’s not amused.

Comeuppance is guaranteed in this perfectly hilarious cautionary tale.

Steve Smallman and Caroline Pedler - Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Bunny?

Four very hungry bunnies have run out of carrots! One by one they hop off to the vegetable patch. But someone is lying in wait. Someone big - and bad! The bunnies work together to defeat their bully.

Jeanne Willis and Lydia Monk - Little Big Mouth

It’s Blue Monster’s first day at Monster Academy and Little Green Monster thinks it’s funny to call him names. Fat face, jelly belly, spotty botty. So how come no one else is laughing? Little Green Monster is soon in big trouble. The new student turns out to be the new teacher.

Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross - Chicken Clicking

One night Chick hopped into the farmer’s house and had a little browse on his computer. Soon she’s bought a funny teapot, a frilly blouse, scooters for the sheep and a car for the cows. She just can’t stop clicking! She meets a friend online and off she goes to meet him (without telling Mum or Dad). But the friend she thought she’d met turns out to be a fox.

Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross - Troll Stinks

Billy Goat and his best friend Cyril are messing about with the farmer’s mobile phone, taking selfies and playing games - until they find the number for a troll. Their Grandpa Gruff says trolls are bad, so Billy and Cyril decide to get their own back by sending mean messages. After all, trolls really do stink! Don’t they?

Short chapter books

Elizabeth Laird - Secret Friends

Rafaella finds it hard to make friends when she starts at a new school. Her name sounds strange, her ears stick out, she feels different from the others. And Lucy is the first to tease, the first to call her Earwig. But then a secret friendship begins.

A super book about the harm caused by name calling, Secret Friends was shortlisted for the Carnegie Award for its intelligent and sensitive portrayal of difference and racism in schools.

Jenny Nimmo - Invisible Vinnie

Rose wishes Zack wasn’t always teasing her at school. Then her Uncle Vinnie conjures up a magic way of stopping him. Ratty, the classroom pet might look like just a cute rat to Rose, but, as bully-boy Zack finds out, there’s more to this little furry rodent than meets the eye.

A funny easy to read story about a great way to stop a bully.

Louis Sachar - Why Pick On Me?

Everyone is laughing at Marvin Redpost. Why? He picks his nose, at least that’s what Clarence says and no one argues with Clarence - not even Marvin’s so-called friends. So what can Marvin do to turn things around?

Why Pick On Me is light hearted but very useful!

Jacqueline Wilson - Monster Eyeballs

When Kate is bullied by a boy named Mark, it gets so bad she doesn’t want to go to school. She can’t believe it when Mark is invited to her brother’s party. As Mark keeps picking on her, Kate sees her chance to get her own back.

Jacqueline Wilson - My Brother Bernadette

When Sara and her little brother Bernard go on the Summer Project, Bernard doesn’t want to take part in the normal boy activities, he wants to do clothes design! All the other children laugh, until they see the fantastic costume he makes.

My Brother Bernadette is a thoughtful read about name-calling and gender stereotyping.

Junior fiction

Phil Earle - The War Next Door

Masher is the bully of Storey Street. No one ever dares stand up to him and that’s the way he likes it. But then Jemima and her family move into the plot of land next door. Jemima isn’t afraid of him at all, and she’s making him look like a bit of a wimp. To Masher, that just means one thing: war.

Ruth Fitzgerald - Emily Sparkes and the Backstage Blunder

In this book, Emily Sparkes and her friends get involved in the school play. Disasters ensue, including someone being wrongfully accused of cyberbullying.

Amber Lee Dodd - We Are Giants

Sydney thinks her mum Amy is the best mum in the world - even if she is a bit different. When everyone else kept growing, Amy got to 124cm and then stopped right there. The perfect height, in Sydney’s opinion: big enough to reach the ice cream at the supermarket, small enough to be special. Sydney’s dad died when she was only five, but her memories of him, her mum’s love and the company of her brave big sister Jade means she never feels alone.

But when the family are forced to move house, things get tricky. Sydney and Jade must make new friends, deal with the bullies at their new school and generally figure out the business of growing up. But Sydney doesn’t want to grow up, not if it means getting bigger than her mum. And her mum is barely four feet tall.

Judy Blume - Blubber

It’s easy to bully someone, especially when they’re weak and different, and everyone else joins in the game. That’s why they all call Linda ‘Blubber’, including Jill. Jill can’t stop joining in, even though she can see how much Linda is hurting. Soon, the bully becomes the bullied.

Frank Cottrell Boyce - The Astounding Broccoli Boy

Rory Rooney suddenly and inexplicably turns green. Stuck in an isolation ward in a hospital far from home with two other remarkably green children, Rory discovers the superpower greenness confers upon him and learns lessons about difference, self-belief and resistance to being pushed around whatever your size or colour.

Betsy Byers - The Eighteenth Emergency

Mouse has a plan for every emergency. He knows how to survive a fall from a plane, what to do in quicksand, and how to bewilder a charging bull. But nothing - nobody - could be prepared for Marv Hammerman He is twice as big as anyone else in the class, and when he is out to get someone, he usually succeeds.

Bullying at school is well resolved in this classic story.

Jane Elson - How To Fly With Broken Wings

Sasha befriends Willem, who has Aspergers Syndrome, is bullied by the Beckham Estate Boyz, and longs for two things: to fly and to make at least two friends of his own age. Together, they defeat the bullies and, thanks to a new arrival on the estate who flew with the RAF during the Second World War, fulfil their now-shared dream of flying.

Jeff Kinney - Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Greg Heffley finds himself thrust into a new year and a new school where undersize weaklings share the corridors with kids who are taller, meaner and already shaving. Greg is happy to have his sidekick, Rowley, along for the ride. When Rowley’s star starts to rise, Greg tries to use his best friend’s popularity to his own advantage.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid, in a light hearted way, with the all the trials and tribulations of life in secondary school, including the fear of walking down the corridor.

Mike Revell - Stonebird

Life gets tough when Liam moves near to his elderly grandmother. When he discovers he can channel his anger through a stone gargoyle on the village church, he uses it to frighten some local bullies.

Stonebird is a brilliant read and a thought provoking book. Although chiefly about the cruelty of dementia, it could a useful a way in to a discussion on bullying, punishment and anger.

Holly Webb - Poppy's Garden

Poppy spends ages on her entry for the playground-makeover competition. She plans to turn the ugly concrete into a beautiful garden, complete with hedgehog roads! So she’s devastated when she’s accused of copying someone else’s design. How can Poppy bring her garden to life? Good job her friends have a few ideas of their own!

Anna Wilson - The Parent Problem</cite>

Skye Green’s mum is driving her insane! When she’s not posting embarrassing pictures of Skye online or experimenting with bizarre clothing, she’s forever taking up new hobbies - and her latest obsession is ballroom dancing! It’s only a matter of time until she waltzes down the street in spandex and sequins - and to make matters worse, Skye’s younger brother is wildly (and irritatingly) enthusiastic about Mum’s new hobby, and about wearing Mum’s sparkly new outfits!

As if this wasn’t horrific enough, Skye’s mum has also enlisted the new neighbour’s son to come and ‘babysit’ when she’s at dance class, and he’s only a year older than Skye! Talk about mortifying in the extreme! At least Skye’s best friend, Aubrey is there to help Skye cope with her family’s madness. They’ve been friends since before they can remember, and nothing will ever change that - right?

Jacqueline Wilson - Bad Girls</cite>

Mandy White is being bullied at school. Life is miserable until she meets Tanya. Four years older and ten times cooler, orange-haired Tanya is an unlikely friend.

Jacqueline Wilson writes with sensitivity about bullying at school and about such important issues as friendship and loyalty

Jacqueline Wilson - The Butterfly Club</cite>

Tina is a triplet, but she’s always been the odd one out. Her sisters Phil and Maddie are bigger and stronger and better at just about everything. Luckily, they look after teeny-tiny Tina wherever they go - but when the girls start in scary, super-strict Miss Lovejoy’s class, they’re split up, and Tina has to fend for herself for the first time. Tina is horrified when she’s paired up with angry bully Selma, who nobody wants to be friends with. But when Miss Lovejoy asks them to help her create a butterfly garden in the school playground, Tina discovers she doesn’t always need her sisters - and that there’s a lot more to Selma than first meets the eye.

Junior non-fiction

Heather Schwartz - Cyberbullying

If a classmate sends threatening e-mails to you, do you know what to do? Don’t worry if you don’t. This book is here to help! Learn tech-savvy ways to keep bullies out of your technology without taking away all the fun!

Young teen

Cathy Cassidy - Looking Glass Girl

A compelling modern-day re-imagining of Alice In Wonderland. Alice is thrilled when Savannah invites her to a Wonderland-themed sleepover; she’s wanted to join this circle of friends for so long. Finally, she’s fitting in. But an accident suddenly changes everything and Alice is rushed to hospital. As her friends and family rally round, a mystery begins to unravel. Was Alice pushed, and why - who would want to hurt her? Can her loved ones - and the gorgeous boy who doesn’t want to leave her side - help Alice survive?

Sally Christie - The Icarus Show

Alex has worked out a foolproof way to avoid being picked on. Don’t React. It’s so simple, it’s brilliant! David does react and becomes an outcast, nicknamed Bogsy. He’s branded a weirdo and Alex is determined to avoid the same fate. But one day, Alex gets a note in his bag that forces him out of his safe little world. Who sent the note? And is it true - will a boy really fly?

This moving novel deals with the pain of social isolation and bullying so bad it leads to an attempted suicide. It’s utterly absorbing and thought provoking.

Sarah Crossan - The Weight of Water

Armed with a suitcase and an old laundry bag filled with clothes, Kasienka and her mother leave Poland and head for the UK to find her father. Life is lonely for Kasienka. At home her mother’s heart is breaking and at school Kasienka is treated as stupid and finds it impossible to make new friends because her English is so poor. Swimming becomes her escape.

Phil Earle - The Bubble Wrap Boy

All my life I've been tiny Charlie from the Chinese Chippie, whose only friend is Sinus, the kid who stares at walls. But I believe that everyone's good at something. I've just got to work out what my something is.

Charlie’s found his secret talent: skateboarding. It’s his one-way ticket to popularity. All he’s got to do is practice, and nothing’s going to stop him - not his clumsiness, not his overprotective mum, nothing. Except Charlie isn’t the only one in his family hiding a massive secret, and his next discovery will change everything. How do you stay on the board when your world is turned upside down?

Catherine Forde - Fat Boy Swim

Fat Jimmy is bullied for his size and inability to perform at sport. But he has inner strengths. One is his secret gift for cooking and the other he discovers when he learns to swim. He is not just a good swimmer, he is phenomenal!

Erin Lange - Dead Ends

Dane Washington and Billy D couldn’t be more different. Dane is a bully. He says he has ‘standards’: he doesn’t hit girls, and he doesn’t hit special ed kids. Billy D is too kind to hit anyone. He has Down’s Syndrome and hangs out with teachers in his lunch break. But one chance encounter leads them to realise that they have more in common than they think.

Aoife Walsh - Too Close To Home</cite>

Minny’s life is a complicated whirlwind of unbearable PE lessons, annoying friends and impossible-to-live-with siblings. Desperate for some space in a house spilling over with family and hangers-on, she has to contend with her autistic sister Aisling’s school bullies, whilst trying to keep her self-absorbed BFF, Penny, happy, whilst looking normal in front of new boy Franklin. And on top of this, now Dad has announced that he’s returning to London - with his new girlfriend!

A very readable and enjoyable novel that is well resolved.

Maureen White - The Butterfly Shell

Marie was hurting even before the accident. Between the mean girls tormenting her by day and a ghostly cry waking her at night, her first year at secondary school was far from what she had expected. But Marie is now writing her story, the story of a very strange year and a very special shell which was found in a most unexpected place.

The Butterfly Shell is a thoughtful novel that deals with issues well, including bullying & self-harm.

Young adult fiction

Becky Albertalli - Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda

16-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. And worse still, so will the privacy of ‘Blue’, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing. With messy dynamics emerging in Simon’s once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s life suddenly becomes just a little complicated.

Now Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out - without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

Jay Asher - Thirteen Reasons Why

Clay Jensen returns home from school one day to find a box, with his name on it, lying on the porch. Inside he discovers 13 cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate, who committed suicide two weeks earlier. On tape, Hannah explains that there are 13 reasons why she did what she did, and Clay is one of them.

Cat Clarke - Undone

Jem is determined to avenge the death of her beloved best friend, Kai, who was driven to desperation after being outed by the popular crew at school. She’s going to take down those responsible, one by one. But what if Kai was keeping secrets from Jem?

This novel deals with really big issues - LGBT and suicide.

Anthony McGowan - The Knife That Killed Me

He's coming to kill me. Now would be a good time to run. I can't run. I'm too afraid to run.

Paul Varderman could be at any normal school - bullies, girls & teachers are just a part of life. Unfortunately ‘normal’ doesn’t apply when it comes to the school’s most evil bully, Roth, a twisted & threatening thug.

The Knife That Killed Me is a gritty modern read about extreme bullying.

Rachel McIntyre - Me and Mr J</cite>

Lara’s life has changed radically since her father lost his job. As the eldest, Lara tries to keep upbeat, and the one outlet for all her problems is her diary where she can be open about how dire everything is at home, and worse, the fact that she’s being horrifically bullied at school.

And then a shining light comes out of the darkness - the new young and MALE teacher, Mr Jagger. The one person who takes Lara seriously and notices her potential. The one person who is kind to her. The one person who she falls madly and hopelessly in love with. The one person who cannot reciprocate her feelings - can he?

Susin Nielsen - The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen

13-year-old wrestling fanatic Henry used to have a normal life. Now, his therapist wants him to keep a journal so he can express his feelings about what happened. Henry has moved with his dad to a new city, where nobody knows their name. He lives off a diet of pizza, whilst hiding from the comically overbearing neighbours and avoiding being an obvious target for bullies at his new school.

But then he meets Farley and Alberta, social misfits who refuse to let him be alone. And bit by bit, the past begins to come out.

Louise O'Neill - Asking For It

It’s the beginning of the summer in a small town in Ireland. Emma O’Donovan is 18 years old, beautiful, happy, confident. One night, there’s a party. Everyone is there. All eyes are on Emma.

The next morning, she wakes on the front porch of her house. She can’t remember what happened, she doesn’t know how she got there. She doesn’t know why she’s in pain. But everyone else does. Photographs taken at the party show, in explicit detail, what happened to Emma that night. But sometimes people don’t want to believe what is right in front of them, especially when the truth concerns the town’s heroes.

Abbie Rushton - Consumed

Myla used to love spending long, hot days on the beach with her sister, Asha. Until the day Asha was taken from her and the sun went out. Forever. That was two years ago. Myla hasn’t been down to the beach - or even left the house - since.

Crippling agoraphobia and panic attacks keep her locked inside a nightmare of the day she can never forget. Her main contact with the outside world is online - until she meets Jamie. Jamie is new in town and also struggles with things most people find easy. Nobody gets why it’s so hard for him to eat. But, like Myla, Jamie is trapped by his fears and feels anxious, awkward and alone. Gradually the pair begin to trust each other. Are they willing to reveal their secrets - and risk discovering the truth? Or will they let their pasts consume them for good?

Courtney Summers - All The Rage

The sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no-one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything - friends, family and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy’s only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No-one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous.

But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn’t speak up.

Young adult non-fiction

Michele Elliott - Teen Life Confidential: bullies, cyberbullies and frenemies

Are there practical things you can do to stop being bullied - at home, at school and online? What are frenemies and how can you deal with them? How can you learn to make friends and respect yourself? This guide will tell you what bullying is, where it happens, and what you can do about it.

Hope Vanderberg - Vicious: true stories about teen bullying

The essays on teenage bullying in Vicious address every form of bullying: physical, verbal, relational, and cyber. Unmistakably real, these stories are at times painful, yet admirable and compelling for the resilience they reveal.

Jo Dixon

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