Helen Harvey, author of Emmy Levels Up, has picked her top five recommended children's books that explore the theme of bullying.
G. R. Gemin
Gemma lives on the grim Mawr Estate in South Wales, where it feels as if everyone has given up hope. When she meets Kate and her herd of cows, they unite in a quest to save their bovine friends from the abattoir. Tall, angry Kate doesn’t fit in at school and is the target of bullies and at first Gemma doesn’t want to be seen with her because this might make her a target too. But by uniting the community in their cause to save the herd, Kate and Gemma are soon seen in a new light.
Ella on the Outside
Ella is the new girl in town and she has a big secret. She’s thrilled when popular Lydia chooses to be her friend. But what does Lydia really want from her? And can Ella discover what’s going on with shy, lonely Molly? This is a poignant story about choosing your friends wisely based on who they are, not how popular they are. A moving contemporary story with plenty of pace and lots of heart.
Danny Chung Does Not Do Maths
Maisie Chan, illustrated by Anh Cao
Danny lives with his mum and dad above their Chinese restaurant. He likes drawing cartoons and imagining fantasy lives with his best friend Ravi, but Ravi is being targeted by a gang of boys from their class. When the gang invites Danny to join them to play blaster guns in the park, Danny can’t resist, even though he’s betraying his best friend. Meanwhile, Danny’s Nai Nai – Grandma – has moved to Britain from China. She embarrasses Danny at school and has no fear being loudly and colourfully herself around Danny’s neighbourhood. At first Danny sees Nai Nai as a villain coming to ruin his life, but can she show him, rather than contorting to fit in, it’s OK to be himself?
A Pocketful of Stars
Safiya’s mother has fallen into a coma, and as Safiya waits at her bedside she finds herself transported into a magical world where she must solve game-like puzzles in order to unlock the story of her mother’s life. Meanwhile at school Safiya finds herself at odds with Elle, who used to be her best friend. Elle has made new friends who aren’t afraid to be mean to anyone they don’t think is cool. Safiya must decide if it is worth saving the friendship or whether to find new friends who like her for who she is.
Marshall and Tamaya walk to school together every day, but Marshall always leaves Tamaya at the gate, because if he’s seen with a younger kid that will only give more fuel to his bully. Chad makes Marshall’s life miserable and Marshall thinks he’s powerless to stop it. Then one day, Marshall and Tamaya take a shortcut through the woods and Chad follows. But there’s a reason they usually avoid the woods – they’re infested with a biohazard, fuzzy mud! When Tamaya and Chad both get contaminated, it’s up to Marshall to save them both. I love Louis Sachar’s writing and his is one of the most realistic depictions of bullying I’ve read for this age group.
Emmy Levels Up
Helen Harvey is the author of Emmy Levels Up, a novel for 8+ readers.
Online, Emmy is a superstar gamer but at school she is bullied. She must use her gaming skills to beat her bullies once and for all. Read our full review of the book over our blog.