Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Knock It Out: Inoculating Our Students from Bullying by Kathy Halsey

We can inoculate our students with preventative steps from great reads to online resources. The key is to start early in the school year and choose the appropriate resource for the grade level. Books such as Jacqueline Woodson's EACH KINDNESS to R. J. Palacio's WONDER will help inform our discussion on how to heal our students and choose kindness. October is Anti-Bullying Month. Today is October 1, so let the book talks begin! 

Just like Momma's homemade chicken soup, books are good for what ails us. In "library land," we librarians call this therapy bibliotherapy. These mentor texts that help guard against bullying are fun, not didactic, and have a great story arc. Here's a sampling of titles I discussed at a teacher/library/author inservice at the Paradise Valley school district. 

Every Cowgirl Goes to School: Rebecca Janni, illus. Lynne Avril
Ole Nelly Sue's day goes from bad to worse at the beginning of the school year. Seems her BFF has a new friend and they're whispering about Nelly, or so she thinks. Poor Nelly is humiliated when new girl Maya draws her as an actual COW girl and all the kids "moo." Reality vs. perceived actions is the theme in this PB. Teachers/caregivers can have a great discussion via what your actions say and what you REALLY mean.

I'm throwing in a few links that you can use for teachers' guides if you're writing an ms with a bullying theme. OR, you can share these like with teachers, librarian friends, parents or caregivers. All curated by me, your friendly former K-12 librarian. 

1. From the HuffPo: A school counselor, licensed social worker and therapist defines and differentiates between being rude, being mean and being a bully. Examples of each behavior are given, also.
2. A Mighty Girl: Follow on Facebook or the blog. A Mighty Girl has a plethora of resources to keep our girls strong and emotionally stable before bullying starts. In this particular post a 14-year-old girl stands on a graffiti-covered rock with comments that demean her. The picture's gone viral, reaching over 4 million people. Discusses the pervasive problem of cyber-bullying. (for tweens and teens.)
3. Pacer's National Bullying Prevention Center: This site breaks out resources by grade level and includes a bullying pledge.The End of Bullying Begins with Me is the message during PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Month, October.
Now, back to a few more books...

The Recess Queen by Alexis O’Neill, illus. by Laura Huliska-Beith 
Kindness and friendship have power in this picture book when new girl, Katie Sue, puts Mean Jean in her place in the school yard. If Jean is crossed she’ll “push’em and smoosh’em, lollopo’loosh ‘em. Hammer’em, slammer ’em ” What fun language to get across a message! The book includes diverse characters and shows girls are just as capable of being bullies. 

Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson, illus. by E. B. Lewis
Gorgeous collaboration between Woodson & Lewis who have worked together before. The PB won the Jane Adams Peace Association Award and is a perfect book for the first quarter of the year to set a classroom tone of respect and thoughtfulness. Share this book from grades K-5. The power here is the sparse language paired with a message about how even children exclude children who are poor from their friendships. Yes, Chloe is black and Maya, the ostracized student, is white; but this has no bearing on the story. Educators and caregivers can recreate Ms. Albert's exercise in throwing peebles into a bowl of water for acts of kindness with their students.

So share those books & resources and let's inoculate against the bullying bug NOW. Kindly share your go-to bullying resources in the comments section, please.  


  1. Great ideas and resources here!

  2. Great post. So needed today. There is never a reason to be unkind.

  3. Appreciations. Lovely titles & info. A Mighty Girl is also one of my fb faves.

    I'd also like to share a piece from the fabulous children's literature author, Renee Watson; it just came in today to me. It's about how adults in schools are sometimes bullish. A poignant piece at the Rethinking Schools site, about her Oregon public school memories:

    Again, thank you for this important article & for sharing the titles.

    1. Gotta read this later. Never thought about it being turned around, but you are correct. When i think back, I've known bully teachers as a student AND as a teacher.

  4. Thanks for sharing these resources, Kathy! I love A Mighty Girl! Just within the last week, I have learned about important women from history, girls who are leading the way with new discoveries, and even a list of Halloween costume ideas for mighty girls.

  5. Great books and links! Rebecca Janni is my friend's sister, go figure!

  6. Kathy: Common courtesies and acts of kindness are better choices than being mean and cruel. Thank you for sharing such an important topic. Mighty Girl is an outstanding platform to encourage confidence in girls and young women and to make positive, strong choices.

    1. Great, Garden Girl, nice link for me to add to my collection.

  7. Lovely list of resources. Each Kindness, such a quiet and contemplative book, hit hard this year when I read it to my older students. The image of the 'ripples' cascading out from the center was a powerful and very effective message for my 9 and 10 year olds.

    Thank you for sharing.