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Anti-Bullying Books

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Anti-Bullying Booklist

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.

Picturebooks about bullying

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

This is a great choice of book for exploring the topic of e-safety and cyberbullying with young 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 big impact on troll’s feelings and that their messages were not such a fun idea after all. For more on online safety, you may also like Chicken Clicking and #Goldilocks by the same authors.

Michael Foreman

A highly original picture book that has the potential to open some important classroom discussions, including on the topics of bullying and homelessness. Joey is a poor newspaper seller who sleeps on the street. One day, after a group of bullies steal his money, his newspapers transform into a superhero called Origami Girl who whisks him away on an unforgettable adventure.

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.
Tony Ross

This book tells the story of a boy who is the victim of an unpleasant bully. The boy questions why the bully might be picking on him, with a repeated refrain of ‘Is it because….?’. After much questioning, the boy decides that he is not the one at fault after all and begins to realise that the bully is unhappy and jealous. This is a picture book that cleverly uses rhyme and visual humour to approach the complex topic of bullying in an accessible way.

David McKee
Elmer the Elephant knows what it feels like to be different! When Elmer notices that there are suddenly no birds around anymore, he begins to wonder what is happening. When he finds them in a cave hiding from a fierce bully, Elmer sets about to help the birds stand up to the bullying.
Ed Vere

This is a touching and warm story about friendship that I really enjoy as both an illustrator and a mum. 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

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.
R.J. Palacio
Chapter book

August Pullman (Auggie) has a severe facial deformity and is home-educated until the age of 10, when he begins to attend school. The story is not just told from Auggie’s perspective, but also through the eyes of his family and friends – following his fears and challenges as he comes to terms with other children’s reactions to his appearance. It’s an emotional journey and a superb book to start discussions about accepting people for who they are, empathy and the importance of friendships.

You may also like the picture book version We Are All Wonders (available here) and the additional story collection Auggie & Me (available here).

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

Jane Lacey & Venitia Dean

A colourful and easy-to-read guide to what bullying is and how it can be dealt with. This accessible non-fiction text includes plenty of advice about what you might choose to do if you encounter bullying. Through a series of case studies, pupils can build up a picture of bullying in its various forms, leaving plenty of space for classroom discussions about the choices faced by the characters involved in each case.

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.
Jenny Alexander
This is a helpful guide written in an informal, child-friendly style that helps pupils to understand how common – and unacceptable - bullying is, what it might look like in different situations and the most appropriate ways to respond to it. The book includes some real-life stories, quick quizzes and ideas for activities to help readers think through the topic of bullying. Suitable for children in KS2.

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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