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Anti-Bullying Books

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Best children’s books with a theme of anti-bullying

On this booklist we have picked a selection of recommended books for primary schools to explore the topic of bullying, including picturebooks, longer texts and non-fiction.

Our list of best children’s books about bullying can be used for Anti-Bullying Week or for PSHE work all year round. Many thanks to primary school librarian Kate Spurrier for working together with us to create this booklist.

Whether you are looking for short picturebooks to discuss anti-buylling like Troll Stinks! or Buster the Bully or longer chapter books about bullying like All the Things that Could Go Wrong or How to Be More Hedgehog, this list of anti-bullying books is here to help.

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Picturebooks about bullying

Wendy Meddour
 & Carmen Saldana
Peggy is an apologetic pigeon. She always assumes she's in the wrong. Even when she's the one getting bullied. But Joan, an older female seagull, gives her the necessary skills to stand up for herself. This hilarious tale from award-winning author Wendy Meddour contains an important message about the importance of being assertive. Carmen Saldana's illustrations are full of personality and humour.
Nadiya Hussain
 & Ella Bailey
An uplifting and empowering picture book about finding your inner strength when school life gets tough, from the winner of The Great British Bake Off and national treasure, Nadiya Hussain, beautifully illustrated by Ella Bailey.I love to go to school. Well, most days I do. There are some days when what I really want is to stay at home with you.A touching story about building the courage to overcome bullying, with a powerful reminder to always be kind.
Maisha Oso
 & Craig Shuttlewood
Buster is the big fish in a small pond: he is the bully of his fish tank who terrorizes all the smaller fish. But when he gets kicked out and sent to the ocean for his bullying behaviour, a shark bullies him! Buster quickly finds a safe hiding spot and as he catches his breath, he reflects on how it feels to be on the receiving end of a bully's bashing. So, when Buster sees another little fish in danger of being eaten by the same shark, he comes to the rescue and saves them both. Having gone from bully to bullied to brave, Buster discovers the error of his previous bullying ways and vows to change for the better.This rhyming picture book shows the perspective of both the bully and the bullied, within the same character, and clearly shows how someone could have a change of heart through experience and empathy.
Anthony Browne
Willy is a gentle kind of chimp but also a target for a group of bullies, who have nicknamed him 'Willy the Wimp'. One day Willy notices an advert in his comic and pursues it to start bodybuilding. Soon the changes he makes to his appearance gives him the confidence to stand up to the bullies. This is a very humorous story and one that leaves readers with much to discuss regarding the extent to which they agree with Willy's response to his bullies.
Jeanne Willis
 & Tony Ross

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 with primary children.

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.

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.

This important and entertaining story is a modern must-read.

Julia Donaldson
 & David Roberts
Tyrannosaurus Drip, a little peace-loving vegetarian dinosaur, never fits in with his adopted family of fierce Tyrannosauruses. After putting up with lots of bullying from the other dinosaurs, Drip runs away to find a place where he really belongs and soon he finds the inspiration to stand up to the bullies.
Ed Vere

This is a touching and warm story about friendship and standing up to bullies. Ed’s squiggly lines create oodles of character and the book is beautifully designed. It champions staying true to oneself and sticking to one’s principles. This is an inspiring and adorable picture book about a pair of unlikely friends who face down a pack of bullies.

Chapter books about bullying

Onjali Q. Rauf
Chapter book

A wonderfully heartfelt story filled with nuance, empathy and hope from award-winning author Onjali Rauf. This story highlights the topic of homelessness and explores the spectrum of attitudes that people hold towards homeless people, as well as exposing a number of common prejudices.

Hector is a troubled young boy – labelled as a bully and a menace, he is stuck in an endless cycle of rule breaking and serving detentions under teachers who tell him how troublesome he is. Hector’s parents have little time to pay him attention after school – in fact the only attention that really feeds him is the incitement of his two friends, who cheer him on as he makes school life miserable for others.

Looking for a new way to impress his friends, Hector sets his sights on a homeless man who is often found sitting on a bench in the nearby park. Spotting an easy win, Hector hijacks the man’s trolley of possessions and aims to hide it in the trees. Something goes awry, and when the trolley ends up at the bottom of a lake the repercussions of his actions hit Hector in surprising ways that threaten to bring him into greater trouble than ever. Annoyed, Hector waits until opportunity arises and ramps up his plan to get revenge on the homeless man.

In the mean time, an intriguing spate of robberies in central London have brought the homeless community into public scrutiny. As a number of threads weave together, Hector finds himself wrapped up in a crime-busting mystery as well as unwittingly embarking upon a journey of personal change that enables him to better see the world through the eyes of others. Each character he meets helps him to see the value in real human connection beyond labels. There’s Thomas, the homeless man with a heartbreaking background story; the Catwoman, who demonstrated to Hector the value of community connection and collaboration; and Mei-Li, Hector’s classmate who shows him what it means to treat others with a grace and respect that breaks barriers and brings about the treasure of moving beyond surface appearances. Before he knows it, Hector finds himself the hero of his own story for the first time ever – both for the exciting and dangerous part he plays in busting a high profile criminal pursuit but also for his own personal journey of compassion and learning to reach out to others.

Onjali Rauf’s beautifully relatable storytelling is perfect for highlighting social issues in a way that fully engages young readers. The community of homeless people is portrayed vividly and intriguingly – from the sounds and smells of the soup kitchen to the night bus route to the system of painted symbols, their world is painted with dignity and compassion. As with her previous novels, Onjali Rauf addresses important ‘real-world’ topics with open-heartedness and the sense of triumph in knowing that big changes can start with small people.

Anne-Marie Conway
Chapter book

Lily loves animals and has a stammer.

Themes of family and friendship are explored throughout the story, which is told from Lily’s point of view. Lily is in Year 6 and 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 in to 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 inter-woven with animal facts and at the beginning of each chapter is a fact about hedgehogs, as well as an illustration. This book is captivating from the first page and is a must-read for celebrating differences, overcoming adversity, and having hope and courage.

I really enjoyed this story and read it in one day, as I couldn’t put it down. It would make a good class read for children in Year 5 or 6 or for children who love animals and celebrating who we are.

Louis Sachar
Chapter book
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.
Cath Howe
Chapter book

Ella on the Outside is a superbly honest debut from Cath Howe, with authentic characters and important themes of friendship, loyalty, self-acceptance and parental responsibility. For me this was a thoroughly enjoyable read and I’m convinced the characters will resonate strongly with lots of readers in upper KS2.

It’s not easy being the new girl at school and Ella tries her best to fit in, wondering who to be friends with, struggling with the eczema that covers her skin and doing her best to not let on the big family secret that she and her mum are trying to put behind them. When very popular classmate Lydia shows an interest in making friends, Ella is flattered and desperate to please Lydia to gain a place in her inner circle. There is also Ella’s mysteriously quiet classmate Molly, who says very little and who, just like Ella, appears to be harbouring family secrets of her own. As the plot unfolds, Ella is left to navigate through the tribulations of friendships, dealing with adults who don’t always do the right thing and figuring out what the best way to handle big secrets might be.

The narrative voice is hugely relatable and the theme of friendship is addressed with due recognition that sometimes there are no easy answers when it comes to human relationships, but that loyalty, integrity and time investment are important foundations on which good friendships are built. I like the way that the reader is never patronised but instead is taken on a journey with Ella as she works through some tricky situations, trying to figure out the best thing to do. Cath Howe has set this story in an honest reflection of a world in which children and adults alike are flawed and struggle deeply with life’s ups and downs.

As well as the themes of friendship and loyalty, the book also addresses issues of parental responsibility, childhood eczema, mental health and the impact of having an absent parent. This is a gripping and emotive read filled with heart and I recommend it for readers in upper KS2.

Helen Harvey
Chapter book
Emmy is brilliant at the computer game, Illusory Isles. Her avatar is a powerful fire elemental with magma claws and flaming breath. When Emmy's gaming video gets a front-page feature, thousands of devoted fans flock to watch her battle the ultimate online baddie, the Mulch Queen herself. Life at school is the exact opposite. Emmy is friendless and bullied by Vanessa AKA the Queen of Mean. To Vanessa and her gang, Emmy is a weirdo with bad handwriting, horrible fashion sense and no dad.But if Emmy can take on the Mulch Queen online, perhaps she can also find a way to take on Vanessa too? Emmy decides to level up and solve this challenge alone. But then Emmy discovers that Mulch Queens and Mean Queens are much easier to face when you have a little help from new friends...

Stewart Foster
Chapter book

An absorbing story about bullying and friendship crafted with the right balance of warmth and tension to engage readers in upper KS2. The narrative alternates between the viewpoints of teenagers Alex and Dan. Daily life is a struggle for Alex, plagued by worries caused by his OCD and living in fear of the awful bullying at school. Dan’s life is not straightforward either. Since his older brother left home, everything in Dan’s world feels different. Dan plays out his frustrations at school, messing around in class and finding easy targets at school to bully with his friends. As time goes by, the boys end up working together on a raft-building project and a new empathy begins to develop as their relationship grows. A highly recommended story for KS2.

Some books you read a few pages or some chapters and park it for the day. Other books, you get so into the story that you just keep turning the pages and lose track of time. This book is the latter. It’s so well written that both bully and his victim got under my skin.

A.F. Harrold
 & Levi Pinfold
Chapter book

A dark and unusual story, edged with humour, about family relationships and an unlikely friendship. As a child discovers a secret, she is compelled to make a difficult choice about whether to betray someone she didn’t ever expect to be friends with. Frank is strong, brave and wistful in the face of her tormentors with her anxieties expressed through vivid stomach-churning moments, such as when a gang suspends her over a patch of stinging nettles. Frank’s surprising empathy for the bully is a great starting point for discussion: “She would have been lying if she had denied that a tiny corner of her heart celebrated at the sight of him diminished and broken, but she wasn’t proud of it”.

Levi Pinfold’s haunting illustrations profoundly add to the intrigue and mood of the story.

Malorie Blackman
Chapter book

Written in different forms of poetry and told as a flashback, this is a heart-wrenching story that offers many possibilities for engagement and discussion. 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. But then Davey heroically saves Sam’s life and the pair become friends. Davey shares a secret with Sam, but when Sam betrays that secret it puts Davey in a life-threatening situation which changes everything.

Ross Montgomery
Chapter book
An action-packed adventure, imaginatively written with echoes of The Borrowers and Gulliver's Travels. Ten-year-old Max is singled out for being deaf by a despicable Headmaster who is evil enough to rival the Trunchbull. In order to solve a mystery at his boarding school, Max forms a friendship with another boy - overcoming their challenges and dispelling some assumptions about deafness along the way. The gaggle of five-year-old girls brings humour and slapstick to this heart-warming story. An excellent discussion opener for themes of bullying, friendships, difference and equality: "They were from two different species and they had never spoken the same language, but they were friends. And sometimes that's all you need to achieve the impossible."
Victoria Williamson
Chapter book

.The Fox and the White Gazelle is a glorious and inspiring, if sometimes heartbreaking, story of the power of hope, understanding and friendship. Set in Glasgow the story is told from the point of view of the two main characters – Caylin, a school bully who we soon discovering is fighting a battle of her own and Reema, a Syrian refugee who is trying to fit in to a new country with a new language, far from all she has ever known.

The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle is a masterful piece of writing which exhibits themes of friendship, belonging, empathy, understanding and, most of all, hope. This is a book that deserves to be read by older primary school children and beyond. It is a book that forces us to look inside ourselves and reassess how we could all be a little bit kinder and a little bit more understanding. Beautifully written and essential reading.

Rachel Renee Russell
Chapter book
The school bully, 'Doug the Thug', forces Max to hide in his own locker where he writes an account of his confinement - and his somewhat unlikely adventures! Max's social anxieties lead him into some awkward situations, which may be useful discussion openers. Written with humour in an illustrated diary form akin to Russell's Dork Diaries series (in which Max was originally introduced) this will appeal to fans of Tom Gates and Diary of a Wimpy Kid.
David Walliams
 & Quentin Blake
Chapter book
12-year-old Dennis lives with his older brother John and their Dad. Dennis misses his mother, who has left them. When Dennis experiments with dressing in girls' clothes and even goes to school in a dress, he is taunted and teased by the other children and expelled by the Head Teacher. Playing in a football match wearing a dress, rather than his usual football kit, gets him seen in a different light and his story turns a corner. A light-hearted story exploring family relationships, freedom of choice and tolerance of difference.
Jacqueline Wilson
 & Nick Sharratt
Chapter book
Mandy is 10 and bullied at school, but finds friendship with an older, streetwise girl who is being fostered by a neighbour. Tanya is 14 and always seems to be in trouble. Mandy's overprotective parents are not keen on their friendship. This story sensitively deals with issues of friendships, family relationships, loyalty and acceptance.
Phil Earle &
 & Sara Ogilvie
Chapter book
This third book in the Story Street series sees Masher the bully as a central character, struggling to understand how to act as he's torn between his Dad's menacing attitude towards the circus-family newcomers on the street and the kindness and understanding shown to him by their fearless daughter Jemima. Genuinely funny and enhanced by Sara Ogilvie's charming illustrations, this could open discussions about tolerance, acceptance and friendships.

Non-Fiction books about bullying

Louie Stowell
Covering important e-safety topics including cyberbullying and social media messaging, this is an essential book to help older children to know how to protect themselves in the digital world. Find out how online interactions can affect friendships, why cyberbullying is so dangerous and how image-sharing can get out of control. Due to the nature of the topics covered, this is most suitable for upper KS2+ or as a book to dip in and out of at your discretion.

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Looking for ideas on what books to read about bullying?

Helen Harvey, author of Emmy Levels Up, has picked her top five recommended children’s chapter books about bullying.

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