5 Books That Help Families Talk About Bullying

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Parents often ask me how to start a conversation about bullying when their kids have never actually seen it. It's a good question. On the one hand, you don't want to sound the alarm on an issue that might actually cause your child to worry. Many young children would be shocked to learn that kids sometimes hurt other kids on purpose. On the other hand, the younger we teach kids about bullying and how to cope with or stand up to it, the better prepared our kids are when they do see bullying up close.

There is no magic age to tackle this issue and there is no perfect conversation starter. The truth is that bullying can happen at any age … even in preschool. To minimize it or to avoid discussing it is to leave kids confused in the face of bullying.

If we want to raise kids who stand up to unkind behavior, we have to teach them how to do it.

Children's books are a great resource for helping kids understand friendship troubles. When families read together and take the time to pause on each page to discuss what's happening and how the characters are feeling, kids learn how teasing and bullying affect others, how to empathize and what to do if they see a similar situation in their own lives.

There are numerous books that address these complicated friendship issues, but here are five of my favorites to get you started:

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One

By Kathryn Otoshi

One tells the story of Blue, a quiet color who is often tormented by the hothead, Red. Blue doesn't know how to stand up to Red, and he feels smaller and smaller each time Red comes around. Until One shows up and shakes things up. One shows the colors that it only takes one to make a difference. When One speaks up, the colors are empowered to do the same.

This book is always a crowd pleaser and shows kids that it only takes one person to stop the negativity.

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Bad Apple: A Tale of Friendship

By Edward Hemingway

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This is the story of Mac (an apple) and Will (a worm), instant best friends who enjoy playing together and finishing each other's sentences. They get along great and spend their days learning from one another. The catch? Apples aren't supposed to like worms and the other apples often call Mac “rotten” and “bad apple”. When Will tries to help by disappearing on Mac and letting Mac play with the apples, Mac learns that he would rather be a “bad apple” with his best friend than a lonely apple without him.

This is a powerful story that addresses the power of friendship, embracing differences and standing up to bullies.

{ MORE: Read These 4 Books to Your Child for LGBT History Month }

 

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Enemy Pie

By Derek Munson

Enemy Pie tells the story of a young boy who plans to have the perfect summer… until a new enemy moves in down the street. Luckily the young boy's father has his old recipe for “enemy pie” – the only way to truly get rid of an enemy. Part of the recipe, however, involves spending an entire day with your enemy.

As the story unfolds, the young boy learns about making new friends. He also learns what his dad knew all along: Sharing a cherry pie with a new friend is a great way to spend a summer day.

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Help! A Story of Friendship

By Holly Keller

This fast-paced tale about friendship tells the story of Mouse and Snake who are the best of friends until Mouse hears a rumor that snakes are dangerous to mice. Believing the rumors despite their friendship, Mouse fears that Snake might not be such a great friend, after all.

As the story unfolds we learn that rumors can hurt feelings and alter friendships, but that honesty and trust can repair them. This is a great first look at what happens when kids tell stories and talk out of turn.

{ MORE: Learning at Home: When Your Child Is Not in Preschool Yet }

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Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun: Having the Courage to be Who You Are

By Maria Dosmondy

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Lucy is one of a kind and Ralph likes to point that out as much as possible – not in a good way. Although Ralph causes Lucy to question herself, when Ralph is need of help, Lucy really shows us what she stands for. Lucy shows kids everywhere that kindness matters and that it's important to make good choices, even when others don't.

This is a sweet story that will help kids understand that bullying comes in many different forms and that doing the right thing and being kind to others are always important.

{ MORE: How to Teach Your Preschooler to be an "Upstander" }

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5 Books That Help Families Talk About Bullying

Katie Hurley, LCSW is a Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist and writer in Los Angeles, CA. She is the author of "No More Mean Girls: The Secret to Raising Strong, Confident, and Compassionate Girls" and "The Happy Kid Handbook: How to Raise Joyful Children in a Stressful World". She earned her BA in Psychology and Women's Studies from Boston College and her MSW from the University of Pennsylvania. She divides her time between her family, her private practice and her writing. Passionate about he ... More

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