Romans

Romans

Anti-Bullying

On this booklist we have picked a selection of recommended books for primary schools to explore the topic of bullying, including picture books, longer texts and non-fiction. Many thanks to Kate Gieler, school librarian at Glebe Primary (@Glebelove2read) for working together with us to create this booklist.

Picture Books

Willy the Wimp

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.

Troll Stinks!

Jeanne Willis & Tony Ross

This is a great choice of book for exploring the topic of 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 (available here) and #Goldilocks (available here) by the same authors. 

Newspaper Boy and Origami Girl

Michael Foreman

This highly original picture book that has the potential to open into 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 bullies steal his money, his newspapers transform into a superhero called Origami Girl who whisks him away on an unforgettable adventure. 

 

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Tyrannosaurus Drip

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. 

 

Is it Because?

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. 

Elmer and the Big Bird

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. 

 

How the Be a Lion

Ed Vere

Leonard the lion, who is gentle and kind, is different to the other lions he meets. He likes to talk about poetry and philosophy with his like-minded friend Marianne the duck. When Leonard encounters a group of bullies in the park, they threaten to chomp Marianne before turning on Leonard for not being fierce enough. Leonard and Marianne work together to communicate to the bullies that there is more than one way to be a lion. 

Longer Texts

All The Things That Could Go Wrong

Stewart Foster

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.

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The Song From Somewhere Else

A.F. Harrold & Levi Pinfold

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.              

Cloud Busting

Malorie Blackman

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.

Max and The Millions

Ross Montgomery

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."

 

The Fox Girl and The White Gazelle

Victoria Williamson

Two girls running from their lives are united by an injured fox and her cubs. Both characters are believable and children will relate to and recognise their challenges. Reema is a refugee and finds life in Glasgow uncomfortable for a number of reasons. Caylin’s mother is an alcoholic and rarely gets out of bed, so Caylin is forced to take extreme measures to fend for herself. A strong message runs through this book that it’s not where you live, but who you are with that is important. The themes of bullying and asylum-seeking are handled sensitively and in a manner that will evoke empathy in UKS2 readers.

 

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The Misadventures of Max Crumbly: Locker Hero

Rachel Renee Russell

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.

The Boy in the Dress

David Walliams

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. 

Wonder

R.J. Palacio

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).

 

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Bad Girls

Jacqueline Wilson & Nick Sharratt

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.