October is National Bullying Awareness Month. Given that the first month of school is behind us and routines have been established, for kids who are victims of school yard bullying that means the bullying pattern is probably underway by now too. Books can’t eliminate bullying – I know that – but a good story may provide enlightenment to bullies themselves, as well as bystanders caught up in peer pressure. Equally important, victims often benefit from stories, gleaning insights, coping strategies and much-needed comfort and support. Here are some books on bullying for young and not-so-young readers.
For the picture book crowd:
I Didn’t Stand Up by Lucy Falcone; illustrated by Jacqueline Hudon
Noni Says No by Heather Hartt-Sussman; illustrated by Genevieve Cote
One by Kathryn Otoshi
Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
The Recess Queen by Alexis O’Neill; illustrated by Laura Huliska-Beith
Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson; illustrated by E. B. Lewis
Dear Bully of Mine by Vicki Fraser; illustrated by Cody McGrath and Sean McGrath
For older readers:
Queen of the Toilet Bowl and Camp Disaster by Frieda Wishinsky
Sticks and Stones by Beth Goobie
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
Bullies Rule by Monique Polak
Cabin Girl by Kristin Butcher
In Plain Sight by Laura Langston
Some Girls Are by Courtenay Summers
To This Day by Shane Koyczan
Dear Bully – Seventy Authors Tell Their Stories by Megan Kelley Hall
It’s the season for backyard BBQs and camping under the stars . . . for walking barefoot on the grass . . . for buying lemonade from the pop up stand down the street . . . and for friends who come to stay.
We’ve had several sets of out-of-town company this summer and I’m so grateful. Life’s busy. It’s easy to put things off. So when people I love come to visit I’m always thankful they took the time. One set of friends was in the middle of getting their house ready to sell but decided to come and spend a weekend with us (we did mention tequila in the invite). Another set of friends was flying from Ontario to BC and their primary destination was the Okanagan. They decided to detour to Victoria for an in-person catch up.
These are friendships that go back decades, to my teens and early twenties. We’ve kept in touch over the years, sometimes sporadically and sometimes more regularly, but whenever we reconnect in person, it’s like no time at all has passed. There’s an incredible gift in that, a joy in having a kind of shorthand with a person, a sense that you know the core of each other and you like what’s there. And though we connected this time in summer, when the living and the laughter both come easy, both of these friendships have been through some figurative winter storms. However, like any true friendship manages to do, they not only weathered the storms but became stronger for them.
A few minutes after waving good-bye to Keith and Carol-Anne, I happened to wander onto Twitter where I saw an agent calling for submissions. One of her biggest wishes: to find stories where friendships are front and center. Stories where friendships aren’t the afterthoughts of our lives but the cornerstones. Where differences are respected and even celebrated. Where pure loving kindness prevails . . . stories where friendships last and last and last.
From summer to winter and back to summer again.
Because while it is the season for backyard BBQs . . . for lemonade stands and for walking barefoot on the grass . . . friendship – honest, to-the-bone real friendship – knows no season at all.