Like most teachers, you probably spend time discussing bullying with your students. It's important to discuss this issue with kids early, so they can learn how to handle these situations when they arise. If you're looking for children's books about bullying and feeling left out that deal with this topic, you'll find plenty of them below!
Why Use Children's Books about Bullying in the Classroom?
Bullying is a universal issue that most of us experience as victims or bullies. Reading picture books about bullying or feeling left out is a way to start a discussion with your students.
Illustrated books help you bring up bullying issues more naturally than a formal talk and, consequently, develop your student's self-esteem. You can use stories to point out the perspective of the victim, the bully and the bystanders and explore illustrated examples of the consequences of our actions.
Questions to Use With Children's Books About Bullying
- Have you ever felt left out? How did it make you feel?
- Why might someone feel left out?
- What strategies will help you next time you feel this way?
- What can you do to join in with other children?
- How can you help someone who is feeling left out or bullied?
- How do you feel when you are bullied?
- What strategies will help when you or someone else is bullied?
- Have you ever been teased? How did it make you feel?
- Have you teased someone else? Why?
- Is teasing and bullying the same? Explain your answer.
- Is being alone and lonely the same thing? Explain your answer.
- If you see someone being bullied, what could you do?
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Children's Books About Bullying
Read any books you are interested in before sharing them with your students. Not all will be appropriate for your specific needs. There are picture books about feeling left out to books about more serious bullying as they come from different perspectives.
A Bad Case of the Stripes by David Shannon
Camilla Cream loves lima beans but won’t eat them because her friends hate them. A mysterious illness causes her to become what others think she should be. No one can figure out what is wrong until Camilla realises she needs to just be herself not bow to peer pressure.
Reinforces themes of balance, self-esteem and growth mindset.
The Banana-Leaf Ball: How Play Can Change the World by Katie Smith Milway
Deo lives in a refugee camp in Tanzania, separated from his family. Remy, a gang leader, targets Deo, but when they come together on the football field, they find common ground and a sense of belonging.
Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
Chrysanthemum loves her name, but she gets teased for its uniqueness on her first day of school. When her music teacher reveals she is naming her baby Chrysanthemum, everyone wants to change their name to a flower.
Promotes identity, friendships and self-management.
Dorothea's Eyes: Dorothea Lange Photographs the Truths by Barb Rosenstock
Childhood polio left Dorothea Lange with a limp, and she wanted to blend into the background. Her curiosity and observational skills led her to follow her passion for photography. She is best known for photographing the invisible victims of the Great Depression.
Read to promote discussions on overcoming adversity, gender roles, prejudice, curiosity, perseverance, bullying, empathy and poverty.
Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson
Chloe and her friends have been excluding the new girl Maya. When her teacher does a lesson on kindness, Chloe reflects on her behaviour and regrets “each kindness I had never shown.”
Promotes relationship skills, inclusion, kindness and reflection.
Enemy Pie by Derek Munson
When Jeremy Ross moves to town, a boy’s life changes for the worse. He is Jeremy’s enemy. Dad advises making an enemy pie, but it will only work if he spends the whole day with his enemy. They end up having so much fun the boy doesn’t need the pie.
Read to discuss kindness, conflict resolution, bullying, and problem-solving.
Giraffes Can't Dance by Giles Andreae
Giraffes Can’t Dance? Or can they? Gerald is determined to take part in the annual Jungle dance. While the other animals laugh, he shows perseverance, determination, and confidence to follow his dream.
Goal! by Mina Javaherbin
In a South African township, a group of young boys trick a group of bullies into stopping them from stealing their new football. They resume their game, with one of their group acting as a lookout in case of more trouble.
Promotes relationship skills, open-mindedness, friendship and courage.
Hey, Little Ant by Phillip M. Hoose
Before a boy squishes a tiny ant, the little insect speaks up. They begin a debate on why the boy shouldn’t kill the ant. With an open ending, the reader decides what the boy should do.
Promotes persuasion, perspectives and bullying.
Imani's Moon by JaNay Brown-Wood
Imani is teased because she is so small. She has a goal to touch the moon. Through her determination, she jumps until she reaches the moon and Olapa, the moon goddess, rewards her with a piece of moon rock.
The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig
Brian struggles to make himself stand out. When he befriends a new student from Korea, she helps him grow in confidence and feel less invisible.
Promotes themes of loneliness, kindness and relationship skills.
The Last Chip by Duncan Beedie
A homeless pigeon is weak with hunger, but whenever Percy spots some food, more dominant birds get it first. A homeless woman takes pity on the pigeon and offers Percy her last chip. Includes themes of poverty, kindness, overcoming adversity and friendship.
Lila and the Crow by Gabrielle Grimard
Lila's dark skin, hair and eyes make her stand out at her new school. She is bullied and likened to a crow. She embraces who she is at the autumn festival costume party and comes dressed as a crow.
Promotes self-acceptance, self-awareness, discrimination, resilience, and loneliness.
Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai
Malala wishes to make people happy and improve their lives. Her experience in Pakistan inspires her to help change the world through her actions, words and writings.
Promotes gender roles, perspectives, courage and resilience.
My Footprints by Bao Phi
Thuy, a Vietnamese American girl, is bullied at school. She walks home in the snow and imagines herself as different courageous animals. Thuy recreates the animal’s footprints all the way home and into the comforting arms of her mum.
Use in the classroom to discuss bullying, courage, perseverance, prejudice, and identity.
My Name is Bilal by Asma Mobin-Uddin
When Bilal moves, he worries about being teased for being Muslim. He thinks about telling his new classmates he is called Bill and not telling them about his religion. A Muslim teacher helps Bilal and his sister settle in by giving them a book about Bilal Ibn Rabah, another Bilal who struggled with his identity.
The New Girl by Nicola Davies
After moving to a new home and school, a girl finds her new classmates hostile. She was different from them, spoke a different language and ate food that smelled different. Feeling lonely, she makes origami flowers, impressing her classmates. She teaches them to create the flowers, and they begin to see the new girl in a new, positive light.
Use to discuss acceptance, bullying, making friends, moving home, starting school, point of view, empathy, and inclusion.
Nerdy Birdy Tweets by Aaron Reynolds
Nerdy Birdy neglects her friend Vulture when her use of technology and social media takes over.
Reinforces themes of technology use, relationship skills, being well-balanced and self-management.
One by Kathryn Otoshi
Quiet Blue sometimes wishes he could be more sunny, bright or regal like his friends because bully Red picked on shy Blue. One unites all the colours and shows them how to stand up to Red and be counted.
Read to discuss tolerance, cause & effect, bullying, being principled, respect and conflict resolution.
The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family by Ibtihaj Muhammad
On the first day of school, sisters, Asiya and Faizah walk hand in hand. Asiya is wearing a hijab for the first time, representing being strong. Faizah admires her sister's beautiful blue scarf but hears other children making fun of her. The sisters follow their mother's advice about being strong and true to themselves in the face of bullying.
Promotes themes of tolerance, self-esteem, making connections, and different points of view.
Red by Jan De Kinder
At first, a girl finds it funny when another student is teased for blushing. Soon, she realises she must stand against the bully but is fearful. Through her compassion and integrity, she finds the courage to do what is right.
Use to teach inferring, integrity, courage, compassion, and social justice.
Say Somethings by Peter H. Reynolds
Discover how your voice matters. There are situations every day when our words and actions have power. It is important to speak up when we see injustice to help those around us understand and react with empathy and compassion.
Read to promote discussions on activism, compassion, kindness, community, self-expression, and communication.
The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade by Justin Roberts
Observant Sally notices everything, particularly bullying in the playground. Despite being small, she makes a big difference by standing up to the bullies.
Read during back to school to discuss bullying, compassion, principled, respect, tolerance and character traits.
Stick and Stone by Beth Ferry
Stick and Stone become best friends when Stick rescues stone. What will happen when the situation is reversed?
Promotes themes of bullying, kindness, loneliness, overcoming adversity and relationship skills.
Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev
A local Pet Club won't allow a young boy to join with his pet elephant. Together, they help the club members understand that pets come in all shapes and sizes, just like friends.
Swimmy by Leo Lionni
After almost being eaten by a big fish, Swimmy works together with a school of fish to frighten off the big tuna. Use to promote problem & solution, cooperation, courage and overcoming fear.
I Talk Like a River by Jordan Scott
A boy’s stutter makes him feel isolated. With the support of his father, he realises his speech is like a river which is sometimes smooth and glistening and other times stutters as it moves.
Promotes discussions on bullying, self-esteem, self-awareness and poetry.
The Ugly Duckling by Jerry Pinkney
An ugly duckling faces many difficult situations. and longs to fly away with other birds. It grows into a beautiful swan, discovering happiness and its true identity. Promotes resilience, identity, self-awareness, and acceptance.
We’re All Wonders by R J Palacio
Auggie shares how he likes to do ordinary things but just doesn’t look ordinary. He wants to believe someone will accept him for who he is.
Promotes self-esteem, identity, friendship and open-mindedness.
Weslandia by Paul Fleischman
A young boy called Wes creates his own sustainable civilisation called Weslandia. Reinforces themes of inquiry, identity and environmental responsibility.
Willy the Champ by Anthony Browne
Willy is quiet, enjoys reading and listening to music. His attempts to play sports are ridiculed, but a bullied Willy discovers he has the courage to stand up for himself. Promotes themes of bullying, courage and self-esteem.
Yoon and the Jade Bracelet by Helen Recorvits
Yoon gets a book from her mother and her grandmother's jade bracelet for her birthday. When a classmate borrows the jade bracelet, she lies and says it is hers. Yoon uses the lessons she learned from her birthday book to get this precious gift back.
If you want to learn more about bullying, visit the NSPCC Learning website for their Anti-bullying resources.
How do you tackle this sensitive topic in your classroom? Do you have go-to children’s books about bullying? If so, let me know in the comments.