Our Favorite Books About Bullying + Giveaway
Did you know that October is National Bullying Prevention Month? This is one cause we can happily get behind. Unless you live in a bubble, chances are you have some experience with bullying, whether as bystander, a victim, or an offender.
It seems like every day we hear new stories in the news about bullying of all kinds—physical, verbal, cyber—and we see the harm our words and actions can have on others. Some of those stories have inspiring endings, like the news anchor who called out her bully publicly for shaming her about her weight, or the teen who had a triumphant homecoming despite being nominated to the homecoming court as a prank. But so often, these stories end in tragedy.
It doesn’t matter how successful you are, bullies can still take away your sense of safety and cause you harm. Case in point: Cassandra Clare’s articulate and thoughtful post on cyberbullying and hate blogs. Even wildly popular authors have to endure merciless bullying.
If you or someone you know is being bullied, this is a wonderful collection of resources to check out.
Our Favorite Anti-Bullying Reads:
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Melinda is a social outcast after she busts up a party over the summer. She is isolated from her former friends and hated by strangers, starting high school off in a private hell of solitude. There is something else beyond the party getting busted that she is trying to avoid dealing with, and being treated like a social pariah isn’t helping her get past it—it is eating her up inside. This book is a reminder that you never really know what’s going on with someone, and judging and attacking a person could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Clay Jenson receives a box of tapes on his front porch, sent by Hannah Baker, a girl he knew and had a crush on, and who has just recently committed suicide. The tapes detail thirteen reasons, thirteen people to be exact, whose actions created a ripple effect to lead her to believe she had no other choice but suicide. It is impossible to read this book without reflecting on how every action, word, innuendo, however seemingly minute, can have a devastating effect on someone else’s life.
Shine by Lauren Myracle
Cat’s openly gay friend Patrick is the victim of a brutal hate crime no one in her small Southern town seems that interested in figuring out who is responsible, instead shoving the blame on drunk out-of-towners. Cat doesn’t accept that, and investigates deeper, causing her to face difficult truths about her community and people she knows. This book dives deep into a culture of bigotry, and how, left unchecked and unchallenged, it can build until it overflows into violence.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Charlie’s friend Patrick has a secret relationship with the quarterback, Brad, and when Brad’s father catches the guys together, he beats Patrick up and Brad’s friends rough him up. Worse than a breakup, this public bullying and shaming takes its toll on Patrick’s well being, and he dives into drugs and depression to get away from this painful reality.
Orchards by Holly Thompson
After her classmate Ruth commits suicide in a nearby orchard, Kana is sent by her parents to her grandmother in Japan to reflect on her role in Ruth’s suicide. Told in beautifully lyrical verse, this story is haunting and powerful, and reminds us that sometimes, inaction can be just as harmful in a bullying incident.
Speechless by Hannah Harrington
Chelsea has never been good at keeping secrets, and her secret slip turned her into a social outcast—and nearly got someone killed. Now Chelsea has taken a vow of silence—to learn to keep her mouth shut, and to stop hurting anyone else. And if she thinks keeping secrets is hard, not speaking up when she’s ignored, ridiculed and even attacked is worse.
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
Samantha is living in mean girl Groundhog Day. Forced to relive the day of her death over and over again, and she is forced to face the person she was in life, untangle the mystery surrounding her death. This story is a wonderful look inside the world of the mean girl, and how revelatory examining the effect her behavior can have on others.
Hate List by Jennifer Brown
Valerie’s boyfriend Nick pulls a gun on the Commons at school, killing six students and one teacher before pulling the gun on himself. Valerie is horrified. The dead are among the “hate list” she and Nick created as an outlet to deal with their tormenters. An eye-opening look at bullying and ensuing tragic school violence.
Shooter by Walter Dean Myers
This book chronicles a murder-suicide through the perspectives of the shooter’s friends, Carla and Cameron. After Len kills Brad, the school bully who tormented him, he commits suicide. Carla and Cameron are interviewed about Len’s behavior leading up to the shooting, and we realize through their accounts and through Len’s diary entry just how disturbed he became by his traumas at school and at home.
By the Time You Read This, I’ll be Dead by Julie Anne Peters
Daelyn has attempted suicide many times, and decides that this time she will get it right. She visits a website called “Through the Light” for suicide completers, and begins blogging about her long history of being bullied about her weight by classmates and teachers. Each chapter begins with a countdown to her self-imposed suicide deadline, and it is heartbreaking to watch her recount the events that led her to devalue her life.
Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King
Lucky has been routinely bullied since he was a child, and his home life isn’t ideal. His grandfather never returned from the Vietnam War, and his father never really coped with it. Lucky’s bullying reaches critical levels, and he escapes into a surreal dream in the war-ridden jungles of Laos, where his grandfather couldn’t escape. Lucky escapes real bullying and brutality in a dream world of war where he can be a hero. But real life isn’t going anywhere, and there is no real escape, only dealing with your problems.
Blubber by Judy Blume
This is the story of Jill and her classmate Linda, who is mercilessly teased for being overweight. Jill feels guilt at the treatment of Linda, and struggles to do anything in her defense. Blubber highlights a common problem—those who would feel compassion for bullying victims and come to their defense are often deterred by the fear of crossing the bullies and becoming the next target.
Butter by Erin Jade Lange
A lonely obese boy everyone calls “Butter” is about to make history. He is going to eat himself to death-live on the Internet-and everyone is invited to watch. Get the perspectives of the bully and the bullied in this tale of a teen’s self-esteem problems and his fellow students cheering him on in a bizarre semblance of popularity.
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Due to an improbable interaction of recessive genes, August has an extraordinary face—the kind that stops people in their tracks and causes horrified gasps. We witness Auggie’s progression through his first real school year, and his experiences are alternately heartbreaking and euphoric for someone who has been sheltered and isolated from his peers for so long. The book takes an honest, unflinching look at the seemingly default setting of most people to be wary of those who are different, and the impulse to distance ourselves from abnormalities and anything that makes us uncomfortable. We’re forced to examine the kind of courage and empathy it takes to overcome that impulse, and how rewarding it can be.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Due to an operation he had as a baby, Junior has a whole range of health problems—including an oversized head, gigantic feet and hands, and ten teeth too many—that make him an easy target for verbal and physical abuse from both kids and adults on his reservation. When Junior enrolls at an all-white school to improve his life, he is viewed as a traitor on the reservation. Watching Junior deal with a shifting sense of identity and struggle with criticism with heart and an irrepressible sense of humor is deeply satisfying and inspiring.
Dear Bully, edited by Megan Kelley Hall
Today’s top authors for teens come together to share their stories about bullying—as silent observers on the sidelines of high school, as victims, and as perpetrators—in a collection at turns moving and self-effacing, but always deeply personal.
This list is by no means comprehensive. If you have a favorite book about bullying, please let us know in the comments! We love getting new recommendations for our TBR pile.
Some of our favorite YA publishers are getting involved in spreading the word about National Bullying Prevention Month.
Harlequin TEEN has partnered with Love is Louder, an initiative started by Brittany Snow, MTV and the Jed Foundation. They also conducted a bullying survey, which yielded these interesting stats about bullying:
- 78% of teens say bullying remains worse than parents realize
- 70% of teens and young women say they have been bullied
- 69% say they do not bully others, yet more than 30% engage in behaviors deemed as bullying, such as gossiping, name-calling and teasing
- 87% are bullied in person while only 14% say bullying occurs online
- 35% of teens turn to books and reading to cope with bullying, while 30% turn to physical activity
To see the full survey, head over here. To get involved with Love is Louder and throw a Speechless book party, head over here for more information:
Random House Children’s Books is continuing their inspiring Choose Kind campaign this month. They will donate $1 to PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center for every pledge at ChooseKind.tumblr.com this October.
Side note: make sure to check the Goodreads chat with R.J. Palacio and Jay Asher on Tuesday October 23rd!
SimonTeen has put together this wonderful “I Choose” anti-bullying campaign:
We’re hosting a giveaway of three wonderful books that smartly address bullying and highlight the necessity of considering the impact our words can have on others. All you have to do to enter is raise awareness in some way about National Bullying Prevention month.
Extra entries for showing your support online for Love is Louder, Choose Kind and/or 13 Reasons Why.
The contest ends November 11th.
a Rafflecopter giveaway