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Talk about Bullying with 5 Great Children's Books

We've seen the horrible impact of bullying in the headlines. We all know how hurtful mean kids can be. Worse yet, we've all seen the capacity for mean-spirited play peek in our kids or ourselves from time to time. It's not pretty, and most of the time I'd like to blame it on a bad night's sleep, but it's there just the same.

For a reminder on the many roles we all play in bullying, as the unhelpful bystanders, the victims, or the perpetrators, check out Dear Bully: 70 Authors Share Their Story by Jeannine Garsee. These popular young adult authors beautifully bring this issue to life.

Many schools, nonprofits, and parent groups are working hard to teach kindness and the golden rule early, with the hope and expectation that this we can keep this problem from escalating.

At Doing Good Together, we've shared many tips for teaching kindness in a way that empowers our children to be part of the solution.

I'm eager to keep this discussion open in my own home. Because books are my preferred starting point for big conversations with my little ones, I've put together this list of our family favorites.

Here are 5 wonderful picture books that will get my family (and yours!) talking about bullying and taking action to prevent it

1. The Juice Box Bully: Empowering Kids to Stand up for Others by Rob Sornson and Maria Dismondy

Teach your kids how not to be a bystander with this story. One classroom has pledged to stand up for one another and to earnestly live by the golden rule. When the new kid starts to cause trouble, these classmates challenge one another to stay true to their pledge, ultimately teaching their new classmate what it means to be part of their community.

2. Have You Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McLoud

I know this book pops up on every list. If you are wondering why, then perhaps you haven't read it in a while. The message in this book is so clear and so motivating, that even the youngest children will set at once to fill buckets. Perhaps even more remarkable, even the oldest readers find it inspiring too! Thinking of bullies as people with empty buckets is perhaps oversimplifying the issue, but it does help us all empathize with them.

3.  The Recess Queen by Alexis O'Neil

I'm a big fan of this book, because my instinct has always been to turn to humor in tight situations. It's fun, it rhyms, and best of all, this book gives you ample opportunity to discuss how bullying begins and how to shut it down.

4. The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi

What's in a name, Shakespeare asked. For a child whose whole world is changing, the continuity of her own name may mean an awful lot. And friends who are willing to take the time to learn her name may mean even more. This is a great book about acceptance, friendship, and change.

5. Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon by David Catrow

Teach your children (and remind yourself) to be true to their own idiosyncrasies, in spite of teasing. This book will have your whole family cheering one another on for much-loved quirks.

And if you'd like to take your discussion even further, take a few minutes to do this simple Crumpled Paper activity. Even the youngest of children will respond to this powerful metaphor. Mean words last long after an apology, just as the creases in the paper remain visible after it is smoothed out.