Five books to share with pupils during Anti-Bullying Week
For many schools and educational settings around the UK, Anti-Bullying Week plays a significant role in creating safe and inclusive learning environments committed to stopping bullying. Anti-Bullying Week 2023 will take place from Monday 13th to Friday 17th November, with the theme ‘Make A Noise About Bullying.’
This year’s theme highlights the importance of addressing bullying, increasing awareness, and collectively taking a stand against it. For more information on Anti-Bullying Week 2023, visit the Anti-Bullying Alliance website or download the official primary school resource pack.
To support this crucial initiative, we’ve compiled a list of five recommended books that primary schools will find helpful during Anti-Bullying Week – or during PSHE work all year round to address the theme of bullying. These books share narratives that promote empathy and discussion, increase understanding of what bullying looks like and empower young children to take a stand against bullying.
In this blog post, we take a look at five recommended Anti-Bullying Week books and we’ve also highlighted where supporting resources are available to download. The books we’ve chosen here are all part of our full Anti-Bullying booklist and we have highlighted them here because they particularly resonate with this year’s theme of ‘Make A Noise About Bullying’.
Troll Stinks by Jeanne Willis & Tony Ross
Recommended for: a humorous storybook for exploring the topic of e-safety and cyberbullying with young children
Troll Stinks makes for an excellent choice of book for today’s children and one with the potential to both entertain and spark meaningful discussions all across the primary age range.
Billy the Goat and his friend Cyril are playing with a phone when they decide to send mean messages to the troll living under the bridge. Soon, the two friends discover that their online actions have had a significant impact on the troll’s feelings and that their messages were not such a fun idea after all.
The book is part of a series that spins traditional tales into the modern age and examines the impact of technology on children’s safety. For more on online safety, you may also like Chicken Clicking and #Goldilocks by the same author-illustrator team.
With more primary-aged children than ever having access to online messaging, the book is bound to open impactful classroom discussions. Even for children who do yet use their devices in this way, the broader themes of bullying, empathy, recognising the impact of words and stopping mean behaviour in its tracks will resonate with even the youngest children during Anti-bullying Week and beyond.
There is also an excellent set of Teaching Notes to use with the book to help schools diver further into the topics of internet safety and cyberbullying.
Cloud Busting by Malorie Blackman
Recommended for: A short and poignant verse novel for KS2 exploring the changing relationship between a new boy and a school bully
Written in different forms of poetry and told as a flashback, Cloud Busting is a heart-wrenching story for KS2 that offers many possibilities for engagement and discussion, written by the award-winning former Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman.
Dealing with themes of bullying, courage, unlikely friendships, loyalty and betrayal, this book explores a child’s ability to perceive everyday experiences in a multi-sensory way.
Davey is new at school and attracts the attention of the school bully, Sam, who makes fun of the holes in his jumper and his unusual ideas. When Davey heroically saves Sam’s life, the pair become friends. Davey shares a secret with Sam, but when Sam betrays that secret it puts Davey in a life-threatening situation that changes everything. Told in verse, in first person, this touching story of an extraordinary friendship delves deeper into the impact of bullying and the power of seeing things from another’s perspective.
On the back of the recent popularity of Matt Goodfellow’s The Final Year, now is the time to tap into the brilliant variety of verse novels available for children and Cloud Busting might be the perfect fit for your Anti-Bullying Week text choice in Upper KS2 classrooms.
How To Be More Hedgehog by Anne-Marie Conway
Recommended for: A gripping Upper KS2 class story about cyberbullying, friendship and speaking out
Themes of family, friendship and speaking out against bullying weave together through this story, which is told from Year 6 pupil Lily’s point of view.
Lily loves animals and has a stammer. Her new teacher sets a project about ‘One World’, where the children work together to research an issue and present it to the class – a task that feels challenging for Lily when she has a stammer. This thought-provoking and beautiful story reels the reader into Lily’s journey from being the victim of cyberbullying to standing up for herself and ‘becoming more hedgehog.’
From friendship changes, cyberbullying and new family additions, this unique story leads to lots of discussion for KS2 classes. The story is interwoven with animal facts and at the beginning of each chapter is a fact about hedgehogs, as well as an illustration. This story hooks readers from the first page and is a must-read for celebrating differences, overcoming adversity, and having hope and courage. It has just been longlisted for the 2024 UKLA Book Awards in the 7-10 fiction category.
As the story progresses, Lily learns essential lessons about friendships and speaking out – perfect for this year’s Anti-Bullying Week theme of ‘Make A Noise About Bullying’. This book would make a good class read for children in Year 5 or 6 and provides a springboard into meaningful conversations about cyberbullying and empathy.
How to Be A Lion by Ed Vere
Recommended for: An inspiring picture book for younger children, about a pair of unlikely friends who face down a pack of bullies
How to Be a Lion is a touching and warm picturebook story about friendship, the power of words and standing up to bullies. It’s a gentle, animal-themed tale that provides a suitable first step for younger children into this year’s Anti-Bullying Week theme of ‘Make a Noise About Bullying’.
Leonard is a unique lion – he enjoys daydreaming and poetry and his best friend is a duck. When the other lions see how unusual Leonard’s lifestyle is, they group together to growl and roar at the pair of friends, insisting that Lions should be fierce. Their strong words cause Leonard to wonder whether he needs to change, but his best friend stands by him and empowers him to stay true to his fabulous, unique self.
Ed Vere’s squiggly lines create oodles of character and the book is beautifully designed. Positivity and empowerment shine through the illustrations with a palette of warm yellows and glowing oranges. The story champions staying true to oneself while exploring the power of words in a humourous and gently thought-provoking way.
A helpful set of EYFs & KS1 teaching resources is available to download, with materials for four lessons that explore the book’s themes of empathy, celebrating difference, friendship and bullying.
Emmy Levels Up by Helen Harvey
Recommended for: An uplifting chapter book for KS2 exploring what different forms of bullying might look like
Emmy Levels Up by middle-grade author Helen Harvey tells the story of Emmy – a celebrated gamer with a vibrant online community. She plays as a ‘fire elemental’, excelling in the online world with thousands of fans watching her in battle. She is fearless, with magma claws and a breath of flames.
At school, however, it is a different story. Emmy is struggling with verbal bullying and is picked on for having no dad, for her clothing choices and for her scrawly handwriting. Inspired by the author’s own experiences at school, the hurt caused by the bullies affects Emmy deeply, especially as it takes place right under the noses of the teachers who are supposed to protect her. The underhand nature of this bullying makes it all the more difficult to know how to handle things. At home, things are not so easy either, with drama and changing dynamics affecting the harmony of family life.
As the three strands of Emmy’s life weave together, Emmy finds ways to draw on her confidence and resilience gained in the gaming world to ‘level up’ her response to events in the real world.
There’s plenty to relate to in this story for young readers and the book is featured on our Best Books for Year 6 list – although it is also suitable for Years 4 and 5. Emmy’s love of gaming will be an immediate draw for many readers. In the gaming world, Emmy can create what she feels is her true self, while in real life she feels like she has to adapt to fit in and so much is outside her control. The story explores the positive side of gaming for young people – the creativity, empowerment and problem-solving skills help Emmy to overcome obstacles at school and home.
Emmy’s experiences of bullying will open classroom conversations about what bullying looks like in its different forms – not always loud or physical but often much more subtle but equally damaging. The verbal bullying Emmy experiences is underhand and almost invisible to others around her. It takes courage to call out bullying when others don’t see it, and the book will provide an excellent medium for such discussions during Anti-bullying Week and beyond.A KS2 teachers’ resource pack is available to accompany the book, which contains reading notes, discussion questions and pupil activity sheets.
For more Anti-Bullying Week book ideas, head to our full Anti-Bullying Booklist.
Full packs of the books from the Anti-Bullying Booklist are available for schools to purchase with a 20% discount from Peters.