Using Children's Literature to Address Bullying

Our school uses children's literature to address bullying behavior at all grade levels from kindergarten to grade 5.  The table above shows the books we have selected to read aloud to all our students from kindergarten through grade 5 beginning in the 2017-2018 school year. The counselors used to read books but because we are now required to deliver the evidence-based Second Step lessons our administrators agreed to go in all classes and share a book in addition to teachers and our librarian. Many of the books emphasize the role of a positive, helpful bystander or upstander/ally who helps in a bullying situation.  Research has shown that helpful bystanders make a huge impact on reducing bullying incidents. These books reinforce the important lesson that bullying behavior often occurs in front of peers.  The peers then chose to be part of the problem (join in, laugh, provide an audience) or become part of the solution (stand up to the child who is bullying, support the child who is being bullied, and/or report the bullying behavior to a trusted adult). Students need reminders throughout the school year to be assertive and oppose bullying and other mean behavior.
These read alouds can also provide academic support. Depending on age (and the needs of the students) the staff member can reinforce prediction, author's purpose, main idea, sequencing, summarizing, etc. Books were chosen that use inclusive language. Try to avoid books that put labels on children or reword. The goal is to get children to intervene and end bullying by being assertive, not ignore or perpetuate bullying behavior.

Second Step Bullying Unit
The Committee for Children has a terrific schoolwide research based curriculum and training to address bullying. The online training comes in 3 modules, one for administrators, one for all staff, and one for counselors or teachers who deliver the lessons. We have it implemented in my school division K-8 this year.

Additional Children's Literature to Address Bullying

Books for K-Grade1

Books for Grades 2-3

Books for Grades 4-5

Books on Bullying Behavior Kindergarten - Grade 5
(Grade levels reflect the level we use the book at our school.  
Most books could be used for the level before or after.)

Bully by L. Seeger

Chrysanthemum by K. Henkes

Hooway for Wodney Wat by H. Lester

My Princess Boy by C. Kilodavis

Rat and the Tiger by K. Kasza

The Recess Queen by A. O'Neill

The Sandwich Shop by Queen Rania

The Sandbox by D. Rowe

Grade 1
The Ant Bully by J. Nickle

Benjamin and the Word by D. Olivas

The Bully Blockers Club by T. Bateman

Chester Raccoon and the Big Bad Bully by A. Penn

Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns About Bullying by H. Binkow

The Juice Box Bully by B. Sornson & M Dismondy

King of the Playground by P. Naylor

Leave Me Alone by K. Gray

Lucy and the Bully by C. Alexander

Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon by P. Lovell

Stop Picking on Me by P. Thomas

Grade 2
Alley Oops! by J. Levy

The Band-aid Chicken by B. Henton

Betty Stops the Bully by L. Shapiro

Bullies Never Win by M. Cuyler

The Bully Busters Book by J. Yee

Emily Breaks Free by L. Talley

The Invisible Boy by T. Lugwig

Jake Drake Bully Buster by A. Clements

Just Kidding  by T. Ludwig

My Name is Art by A.T. Sorsa

My Secret Bully by T. Ludwig

Nobody Knew What to Do by B. McCain

Say Something by P. Moss

Stop Bullying Bobby! by D. Smith-Mansell

Tease Monster by J. Cook

Grade 3
Each Kindness by J. Woodson

Eagle Song by J. Bruchac

The English Roses by Madonna

Hey Little Ant by P. Hoose & H. Hoose

The Hundred Dresses by E. Estes & L. Slobodkin

Mr. Peabody's Apples by Madonna

My Secret Bully by T. Ludwig

One by K. Otoshi

Pinky and Rex and the Bully by J. Howe

Puppy Power by J. Cox

Third Grade Bullies by E. Levy

Waffles and Pancakes: A Lesson in Bullying by C. Springsteen

Yang the Third and Her Impossible Family by J. Blume

Grade 4
Kids Talk About Bullying by C. Finn

In Your Face, Pizza Face! by C. DePino

Confessions of a Former Bully by T. Ludwig

Weird! by E. Frankel

Dare! by E. Frankel

Tough! by E. Frankel

There's a Boy in the Girls' Bathroom by L Schar

Blubber by J. Blume

Sorry! by T. Ludwig

Trouble Talk by T. Ludwig

Bullies are a Pain in the Brain by T. Romain

The Drama Llama by S. Bowman (Group)

Bully by P. Palcco

Grade 5
Blue Cheese Breath and Stinky Feet by C. DePino

Blubber by J. Blume
The Boy Who Grew Flowers byJ. Wojtowicz

Crash by M. D. Taylor

The Girls by A. Koss

Out of My Mind by S. Draper

Stargirl by J. Spinelli

The Well by J. Spinelli

Wonder by R. Palacio

Lesson Plans

Unit Title How to Make School a Safe, Caring, and Respectful Place

Unit Theme Friends Show Respect

Areas Addressed Label feelings; speak firmly

Grade Level Kindergarten Time Frame Apr-May

Lesson Summary The Recess Queen is a vehicle to talk about bullying behavior being unsafe and unkind. It introduces some ways children can respond to bullying behavior.

Guiding Question What do you do when someone is unfair and keeps being mean on purpose?


Children who are able to label their own and others’ emotions tend to be less aggressive and more accepted by peers and have better general social skills than children who have trouble accurately labeling emotions.
The prosocial skills of including others and inviting others are associated with increased social competence.
Recognizing bullying behavior (unfair, keeps, one-sided)
Responding safely to bullying

Lesson Materials The Recess Queen by A. O’Neill

Lesson Outline

1. Introduction

We want all children to feel safe at school. What makes you feel safe at school? (i.e. having adults available for support, kids playing nicely, kids sharing) What does it mean to act like a bully? Bullying is unfair and unkind. It is not okay. Have you ever been bullied or seen someone else being bullied?


Dared (p 20) to have enough courage "No one dared to ask her…"

2. Introduce book.

The title of this book is The Recess Queen.

I think the girl thinks she’s special. What do you think?

I wonder if these other kids agree. What do you wonder?

I also wonder what happens at recess. Let’s read the book and find out.

4. Story and Discussion

(Pause after p 2) How do the children feel in this picture? Why?

(Pause after p 6) How does Jean act? What did she do that was bullying? Why do you think Mean Jean is so mean to the other students?

(Pause after p 23) When Jean tried to scare Katie Sue, what did Katie Sue say and do?

(Pause after p 21) How was Katie Sue different then everyone expected? Why did Katie Sue do what she wanted on the playground?

(Pause after p 20) How did she talk to her? (Friendly) Why did Katie Sue invite Jean to play?

(Pause after p 22) How did Jean feel about Katie Sue wanting to include her?

(Pause after p 26) Did they have fun together?

(After finishing) Why does Jean have friends at the end? How do you think Jean feels now?

What was Mean Jean’s name at the end of the story?

5. Lesson Closure/Summary

What character in the book do you admire or look up to? Why? How did Katie Sue show respect to Jean and the other kids at recess?

Katie Sue’s plan for dealing with bullying behavior worked because most children who are mean on purpose really want to have friends. However, talking and inviting someone who acts like Mean Jean does not always work and some children are not as brave as Katie Sue. If a child keeps pushing you and telling you she always gets to be first, what else can you do?

Yes, we can walk away or get an adult to help.

6. Follow-up

Continue verbally reinforcing specific examples when a child(ren) chooses behavior that is safe, caring, and respectful.


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