Anti-Bullying Books

One of the best ways to prevent bullying is by having open conversations about what bullying is, how it affects others, and modeling the right way to treat one another. Books are an excellent way to start these conversations and give children concrete examples of bullying behavior and what to do about it.

Listed below are books to help empower children who are being teased, embolden children to stand up to the mistreatment of others, and teach them how to make the world a better place by being kind.

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You can also view many of these books on my BOOKSHOP STOREFRONT.

 

Books About Upstanders

During a bullying situation, an upstander is someone who intervenes and speaks up to stop the mistreatment. The following books star characters who find the strength to stand up for others.  

One by Kathryn Otoshi

(Ages 4 and up)

This brilliant book uses numbers and colors to create a clever story about bullying and acceptance. Red is hot headed and enjoys picking on Blue. The other colors are too intimidated to help until the number One enters and teaches them all a meaningful lesson. This is one of my favorite books that is a must-read. 

 

Willow Finds a Way by Lana Button; illustrated by Tania Howells

Kristabelle is the boss of the classroom and when she speaks everyone listens. When she threatens to disinvite people from her birthday party unless they do everything she says, however, she goes too far.  Soft spoken Willow resolutely crosses her own name off Kristabelle’s birthday list giving others the strength to do the same. When Kristabelle is left friendless, Willow extends an act of kindness, that, in return, gives Kristabelle the confidence to apologize.

Willow is a wonderful role model and this relatable story is sure to resonate with many children. I also highly recommend Willow’s Whispers.

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Super Manny Stands Up!  by Kelly DiPucchio ; illustrated by Stephanie Gaegin

(Ages 4 and up)

Using his vivid imagination, an inventive raccoon battles pretend monsters until he encounters real-life problems. When Manny witnesses an act of bullying in the lunchroom even though he is frightened, he bolsters the courage to confront an unkind child and makes a new friend in the process.

 

I Walk With Vanessa: a story about a simple act of kindness by Kerascoet

(Ages 5 and up)

With themes of kindness, courage, and anti-bullying, I Walk With Vanessa is a must-have for classroom libraries.

When a young girl observes a hurtful act toward a new classmate, she decides to take action and extend kindness to the victim by walking with her to school. Soon several classmates join together and form a united front.

The book is made even more powerful by its lack of text. It allows readers to interpret the characters’ expressions and develop their own conclusions. This story is an excellent tool for teaching anti-bullying standards. It touches upon a child demonstrating bullying behavior, a victim, and a bystander. The story can be used to prompt an important discussion about each character’s role and the actions they take. Students can take turns role playing the characters and because there is no text, children can create their own dialogue further internalizing the situation.

My children were captivated by this story and asked for repeated readings, creating several important discussions.

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Stick and Stone by Beth Ferry; illustrated by Tom Licthenheld

(Ages 4 and up)

Using flowing rhymes and hilarious puns, this funny and touching story focuses on the journey of friendship between a stick and a stone that begins when Stick stands up to a prickly pinecone making fun of Stone. Tom Lichtenheld’s illustrations are just fabulous and Beth Ferry’s scarce text is perfection.

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The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade by Justin Roberts; illustrated by Christian Robinson

This sweet story demonstrates that we all have the power to stand up for what is right no matter our size!

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Red by Jan de Kinder

(Ages 5 and up)

Although a girl first finds it funny that Tommy turns red when he blushes, she quickly regrets bringing attention to his flush face when Paul ruthlessly taunts him. As the teasing escalates into a push, the girl wants to stop Paul, but can’t find the words. Finally, when the teacher asks if anyone saw what happened she shyly raises her hand inspiring the other students to speak up too. This sensitive story is a poignant look at bullying from many different perspectives.

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Books About Toxic Friendships

The Not-So-Friendly Friend: How to Set Boundaries for Healthy Friendships by Christina Furnival; illustrated by Katie Dwyer

(Ages 4 and up)

This impactful book is an excellent conversation starter on how to respectfully stand up for yourself and others when another child is being unkind.

When a sociable young girl is confronted by an unkind classmate, she learns to set appropriate boundaries. If the other girl is being nice, they can play and have fun, but as soon as the other girl becomes hurtful, the play ends. The girl states, “If you want to be kind, I’d be glad if you’d play, but if you don’t treat me right, you can go on your way.”

I really appreciate how the book shows the main character giving the other girl chances to make amends or join in, but as soon as she turns nasty, she’s done. She is also encouraged to seek a trusted adult if necessary as well. The book is further enhanced by a discussion guide in the back that is helpful for parents and teachers.

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My Secret Bully by Trudy Ludwig

Monica and Katie have been friends forever, but recently Monica has noticed Katie whispering behind her back and pitting her against her other friends. When Monica finally shares how upset she has been with her mom, she learns what true friendship means and how to stand up for herself. With tips for parents and caregivers along with discussion questions, this book is a must-read for anyone experiencing relational aggression.

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Just Kidding by Trudy Ludwig; illustrated by Adam Gustavson

(Ages 6 and up)

The thin line between joking and hurtful teasing is expertly addressed in this powerful story. Vince is consistently putting D.J. down following his unkind words with the phrase, “just kidding.” This realistic glimpse into one boy’s struggles to stand up for himself is very eye-opening. Complete with discussion questions, additional resources, and list of “Teasing Do’s and Don’t’s” this is an excellent conversation starter for classroom and home libraries.

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Two of a Kind by Jacqui Robbins; illustrated by Matt Phelan

(Ages 5 and up)

Unfortunately, cliques occur way too often in schools and this helpful book addresses the lure of popularity versus true friendship. Even though Kayla and Melanie may not be the nicest girls, their coolness is oddly appealing. When Anna is invited into their exclusive twosome, she briefly abandons her best friend Julisa. Anna quickly discovers, however, that she has nothing in common with Kayla and Melanie and when tested to make the right choice in standing up for Julisa, she does.

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My Friend Maggie by Hannah E. Harrison

(Ages 5 and up)

This is such a powerful and relatable story about peer pressure and standing up for your friends. Paula and Maggie have been best friends all their lives, but when another girl, Veronica, says something unkind about Maggie, Paula begins rethinking their long friendship. Paula starts playing with Veronica only to have Veronica then say something mean to her. Luckily, Maggie generously forgives Paula and stands up for her demonstrating what true friendship looks like.

I love everything Hannah E. Harrison creates and this accessible friendship tale is especially moving and beautifully illustrated.

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Each Kindnessby Jacqueline Woodson; illustrated by E.B. Lewis

(Ages 6 and up)

This thought-provoking picture book uses a poignant story and lovely watercolor illustrations to present a unique view of kindness.

When Maya, a new student, comes to school wearing second hand clothes, Chloe has the opportunity to befriend her, but time after time chooses to be hurtful instead. When Maya moves away, Chloe regretfully realizes she has forever lost her chance to be kind to Maya.
 
In a compelling scene, Chloe’s remorse is skillfully captured as she throws a stone into a pond remembering her teacher’s words, “This is what kindness does. Each little thing we do goes out like a ripple, into the world. Each kindness, makes the whole world a little bit better.” Chloe’s shameful realization that she has lost her opportunity to be kind to Maya will hopefully inspire children to be kind every chance they get!

Buy It Here

You may also like BOOKS ON BEING A GOOD FRIEND . and BOOKS ABOUT COMPARING AND JEALOUSY.

Books to Empower Children Being Teased

While it breaks my heart that these books need to exist, I am thankful that there are several standout stories starring courageous characters who do their best to overcome negative attention from others and celebrate their uniqueness. I hope that these books will help children feel less alone and reassure them that they are extraordinary despite what anyone else says.  

Llama Llama and the Bully Goat by Anna Dewdney

(Ages 3 and up)

With its flowing rhymes, this social emotional gem is an excellent choice to demonstrate to preschoolers that bullying behavior is not okay. When Gilroy Goat teases the other children about their singing and acts unkindly in the sand box, Little Llama and Nelly Gnu tell Gilroy to stop and when he doesn’t, they tell a teacher. After a talk with the teacher, Little Llama and Nelly Gnu give Gilroy another chance to play where they all enjoy the sand box.

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A Normal Pig by K-Fai Steele

(Ages 5 and up)

Pip feels like a normal pig until a new pig comes to school and makes her question the things she likes. This engaging story takes a realistic scenario and helps reinforce the importance of celebrating differences and individuality.

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Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell; illustrated by David Catrow

(Ages 4 and up)

It is impossible not to root for the exuberant Molly Lou Melon. She may be short, clumsy, have buck teeth, and a voice that sounds like a bullfrog, but she also has a very wise grandmother who has endowed her with words of wisdom about being herself.

David Catrow’s eccentric illustrations are hilarious and perfectly exemplify Molly Lou’s vivacious spirit. This is one of my favorite read alouds that my children and my students asked for over and over.

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The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family by Ibtihaj Muhammad; illustrated by Hatem Aly

(Ages 5 and up)

Faizah could not be prouder of her sister as she wears her beautiful new hijab on the first day of school. She begins to doubt herself, however, when her sister faces unkind comments from other students. This book expertly weaves in themes of family, acceptance, fostering empathy, and finding inner confidence making it a real standout.

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The Bug Girl by Sophia Spencer and Margaret McNamara, illustrated by Kerascoët

(Ages 5 and up)

Sophie Spencer poignantly shares her experience being teased due to her passion for bugs. After an especially traumatic bullying incident, Sophia was ready to put away her favorite hobby until she received a shocking amount of support from the entomologist society. Boosted by the knowledge that she is not alone in her interests, Sophie found the strength to not only pursue her love of bugs, but to help others embrace their own passions.

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Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes

(Ages 4 and up)

This classic tale follows Chrysanthemum who absolutely adores her name until she starts school and the other children make fun of it. Bolstered by her favorite teacher’s first name, Chrysanthemum blossoms once again and proudly embraces her beautiful name.

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My Footprints by Bao Phi; illustrated by Basia Tran

(Ages 5 and up)

On her way home, Thuy makes footprints in the snow representing a variety of animals. Once home, Thuy shares with her two moms how she is being teased at school and together they pretend to be the biggest, strongest animals they can imagine. Drawing upon the loving support of her family and her cultural heritage, Thuy creates an imaginative creature that helps give her strength and self-confidence.

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Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun: Having Courage to Be Who You Are by Maria Dismondy; illustrated by Kim Shaw

(Ages 4 and up)

Sweet Lucy is completely caught off guard when Ralph begins teasing her about her hair and interests. When Ralph becomes stuck on the monkey bars, Lucy takes the opportunity to confront him and demonstrate what true friendship means by helping him. Inspired by Lucy’s act of kindness, Ralph draws her a picture as an apology.

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Mister Rogers’ Gift of Music by Donna Cangelosi; illustrated by Amanda Calatzis

This beautiful biography of the famed Mister Rogers focuses on how Fred Rogers channeled his loneliness and hurt feelings from being teased into his music. When he got older, he wanted to share the joy music brought him with other children and created his celebrated television show. I just love how this book demonstrates how Fred Rogers took his negative emotions and directed them in a positive way allowing him to lead a life of kindness and giving back to others.

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Sweety by Andrea Zuill

(Ages 4 and up)

My kids and I just adore the exuberant Sweety! Sweety is a naked mole rat whose love for interpretive dance and mushrooms often leaves her feeling like an outsider. With some wise advice from her aunt, Sweety realizes that staying true to herself is the best way to be happy and find like-minded people.

With comical illustrations and a positive message about embracing your quirks, this is an exceptional read aloud.

Buy It Here

You may also like my list of Best Books for Building Confidence and Self-Love in Children and Back-to-School Books That Build Confidence and a Positive Self-Image

 

Books About Inclusion

Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev; illustrated by Taeeun Yoo

(Ages 4 and up)

This charming story is a must-have. When a boy and his pet elephant are excluded from a pet club, he finds other children with unusual pets and they form their own club that welcomes everyone. Without being overly didactic, this lovely friendship story teaches children the beauty of inclusion.

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Something Beautiful by Lita Judge

(Ages 4 and up)

This sweet story highlights the joy found in inclusion. As a group of animals meet a variety of creatures, they discover that whether friends have a lot in common or are very different,  

life is more beautiful when you open yourself up to learning about and accepting others.

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All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold; illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman

(Ages 4 and up)

Poignant language paired with colorful illustrations featuring a diverse group of students drive home the message that school is an inclusive and welcoming place to ALL. This is sure to become a classic classroom read aloud that is reread every year.

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The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig; illustrated by Patricia Barton

(Ages 5 and up)

All too often introverted children can be overlooked in a classroom setting. This poignant story presents Brian in black and white as he quietly keeps to himself while secretly longing to make a friend. When a new boy finally notices him, Brian relishes in feeling accepted and is able to shine. An excellent discussion guide is also included.

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Someone New by Anne Sibley O’Brien 

(Ages 5 and up)

This is a powerful tool to teach children empathy and acceptance. When  three immigrant children begin school, their classmates are not sure how to react. They want to welcome them, but have a difficult time communicating without speaking the same language. Through small acts of kindness, they find common ground and build friendships.

        Buy It Here

You may also like my list of BOOKS CELEBRATING DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION.

 

Books About Kindness

Kindness Grows by Britta Teckentrup

(Ages 3 and up)

Kindness Grows uses lyrical, rhyming language to describe how hurtful actions can create distance between people while kind acts blossom into something beautiful. Die-cuts are brilliantly integrated to demonstrate the widening crack created by upsetting actions set opposite a stunning tree growing from caring deeds.

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Words and Your Heart by Kate Jane Neal

(Ages 3 and up)

I could not love this book more. It does an incredible job of conveying the concept that words hold great power. Simple, engaging illustrations combined with playful text presented in various sizes and fonts create a child-friendly avenue for this important message. It touches upon the fact that words can be hurtful, but encourages the reader to use words to look after each other’s hearts. This book is beautifully crafted and impactful.

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The Power of One: Every Act of Kindness Counts by Trudy Ludwig; illustrated by Mike Curato

(Ages 4 and up)

Just as she did in The Invisible Boy, Trudy Ludwig has created another impactful story that shows readers how each of us has the ability to positively impact someone else’s life even with the smallest act of kindness. The simple, but powerful text is complimented by eye-catching illustrations that showcase a flower that grows as a group of diverse children nurture their friendships.

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Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller; illustrated by Jen Hill

(Ages 4 and up)

When Tanisha spills grape juice all over her new dress, most of the other kids laugh.  However, one unnamed girl wants to be kind, but she is not exactly sure how. Poignant text matched with soft illustrations demonstrate the girl’s thought process as she thinks of examples of kindness she has experienced.

There are many books that cover this subject, but Be Kind stands apart. It does a remarkable job of providing an overview of kindness along with clear examples that make this abstract concept more concrete for children. It touches upon both the individual and global impact of kindness and while it may not always be easy to be kind, each small act is meaningful.

Buy It Here

 
A Small Kindness by Stacy McAnulty; illustrated by Wendy Leach
(Ages 4 and up)
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A Small Kindness follows a diverse group of children on their first day of school. The opening pages present the school in sepia tones with one girl standing out in full color. When she smiles at another boy, he brightens too. With each act of kindness passed on among the students and teachers, the pages fill with vivid hues demonstrating the remarkable power a compassionate gesture has on others.
 
The visualization of the immediate and prolonged effect of good deeds is especially impactful. The concise text provides several ideas for friendly acts that can easily be implemented every day and passed on like a game of tag. It also reinforces the idea that a classroom is a community enriched when we are kind to one another.
 

 

Have You Filled a Bucket Today? A guide to daily happiness for kids by Carol McCloud; illustrated by David Messing

(Ages 4 and up)

This book plays on the idea that everyone has their own invisible bucket that represents their mental and emotional health. When we are kind to others, it not only fills their buckets, but also our own, making everyone happier. Conversely, if we are mean to others, we dip into their buckets and take away their joy.

With its clear message and engaging illustrations, this book does an excellent job of demonstrating how easy and rewarding it is to be nice to others. When I was a school librarian, this book was used in every classroom in the school and I use it now with my own children. It is effective and inspirational.

Buy It Here

You may also like my list of BOOKS ABOUT KINDNESS.

 

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