September 24, 2019
While bullying is still a problem in schools, the intersection of bias and bullying can be particularly harmful. Identity-based bullying is when a person is targeted based on an essential part of their identity (e.g., race, immigration status, sexual orientation, religion, or gender identity). It is common in schools and not only impacts the targeted person but everyone else around them that shares their identity. Identity-based bullying can leave all students feeling unsafe and fearful that their group could be the next target.
Use these picture and chapter books to help elementary and middle school students reflect on bullying and explore strategies for ally behavior. All the books include two discussion guides, one for educators and one for parents and families.
The Boy at the Back of the Class
Nine-year-old Ahmet is a new student in Mrs. Khan’s classroom. Everyone wonders why he doesn’t talk much, where he’s from and what his story is. Rumors abound. The other kids soon find out that Ahmet is a refugee from Syria and that he has been separated from his family. After learning more about him and the war Ahmet fled, a strong-minded group of his classmates devise the “Greatest Idea in the World,” a plan to reunite Ahmet with his family members. Get the discussion guides.
The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade
Sally is an observant child. She notices everything, including the small and big ways that kids bully each other in school and on the playground. One day, Sally decides she can’t take the bullying anymore and tells everyone to stop. She discovers that this big gesture by one small girl can make a giant difference. Get the discussion guides.
Words are very significant when you’re in middle school. They can be weapons or gifts. They can help you make friends or enemies. Branton Middle School has banned cellphones this year so Frost and his friends concoct a plan to communicate another way — using sticky notes. It catches on, and soon all the kids in school are leaving notes. But for every friendly one, there is another that is mean-spirited and nasty. As these skirmishes intensify, it seems like nothing will ever be the same. Get the discussion guides.
The Best Man
Archer is searching for role models, and three of his best are his grandpa, his dad and his uncle, Paul. Archer then discovers a fourth one — Mr. McLeod, a military-based student teacher. Mr. McLeod becomes both a disruption and welcome addition to Archer’s class, especially in response to the anti-gay bullying that is taking place. Mr. McLeod outs himself to the class, which is very impactful to the students, especially Archer. In the end, a romantic interest between his uncle Paul and Mr. McLeod might lead to a wedding with Archer in a starring role. Get the discussion guides.
Confessions of a Former Bully
Katie is in trouble for bullying a classmate. Mrs. Petrowski, the school counselor, meets with Katie so she can reflect on her behavior and learn to be a better friend and ally. She soon realizes that the bullying has not only hurt the target and those around her but has hurt Katie as well. This story is different from the typical books about bullying. It is told from the person’s perspective who is bullying. It also provides useful tools for students to identify bullying — and what to do when they see it. Get the discussion guides.