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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Bullying -- Helping Children Through Books

Is there anyone who has never, ever been bullied? Even just a tiny bit? It is safe to assume that everyone has experienced the "humiliation" of being bullied at one point in their lives. On the playground. In the classroom. By siblings or peers. Bullying has been around it seems since people have begun recording history. It's even in the Bible isn't it? The snake bullied Eve into eating the apple and in turn she bullied Adam. Okay, that might be a stretch but the point is every generation has witnessed bullying in their lifetime. However it seems that this generation is experiencing bullying in a whole new way then perhaps their own parents did as children. There are many ways that it is different and quite frankly thank goodness for authors who have provided librarians with resources to help children and their parents deal with this all too painful problem of childhood. Before any adult goes off and exclaims that we are pampering children when it comes to this topic, there are several thins to consider. Picture this scenario. A girl is walking home from school on a cold winter's day. There are a group of children walking behind her laughing and making comments about her hat. One girl whispers to another, they give each other a glance and it happens. One is ready with their smart phone to take a picture of the accomplice coming up from behind the inspecting girl and grabs her hat. This "surprise" causes the girl to lose her balance and she ends up falling on the sidewalk with her books flying everywhere. The picture is taken at the right moment and sent to a group of kids from their class. The picture goes semi-viral where almost the entire school has seen the picture and laughed at the girl's expense. The girl who was bullied is mortified. She doesn't want to go to school to face the laughter. Sounds like something that could happen in a made for tv movie? Yes, it could very well be but the reality is this is what bullying is like for today's children. One of the best way to help children deal with bullying is to talk about the problem. One step further, there are three wonderfully books that can help start the discussion. First, for the younger reader One by Kathryn Otoshi is reminiscent of Little Blue, Little Yellow by Leo Lionni. It is a book about quiet little blue who teaches all the other colors that differences among each other is good and it only takes one to say something to make a difference. Great story about acceptance without hitting the reader over the head without being preachy. Second, for the little older child who is in elementary school, Patricia Polacco's book Bully is a contemporary portraying the reality of how Facebook can be a tool to aid in bullying. Children will be able to relate to how two friends can be separated when one makes the cheerleading squad and the other does not. Lyla, the heroine of the story, demonstrates how true friends stand up against bullying by standing by their friends. It's a classic tale that helps the reader to see how it is possible to do the right thing even when peer pressure says differently. Third, perhaps the best book, is by Jerry Spinelli. Loser is also known as Zinkoff. However, Zinkoff does not know his other name nor does he pay attention to what all the other kids say. He is the typical character in a Spinelli's novels, quirky, fun and different. It's Spinelli's specialty. From the reader's point of view, Zinkoff is someone they can relate to. Either it's someone they know at school or they might even see themselves in this character. The best lesson from this book is that every Loser has the potential to change their name to Hero. There are many more wonderful books but these are the best of the best. If looking for a concise list of books about bullying drop an email to lvnlibrarian@yahoo.com.
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