Chapter Books About Bullies, Bystanders, and Being Kind

A growing list of chapter books dealing with bullies

Empower your tween or teen to be an "upstander."

This growing collection of resources is provides the perfect starting place for a conversation about challenging social conflicts. Pick a book that interests your family. Read it together. Then, use the discussion questions to take the concepts further.

Also check out our collection of picture books about bullying.

Talk about the issue.

  • What are some other ways the main character could have dealt the main challenge? How would you have acted differently than the character in the story?

  • What do you think is the difference between bullying and teasing?

  • Do you ever feel lonely or left out? What do you do to feel better? What else can you do?

  • Do you ever see other kids at your school being bullied? How does it make you feel?

  • How do you think you could help a friend who is being bullied?

  • Let's make a list of great qualities about each of us. Why do you think it is important to think positive thoughts about yourself?

  • Check out this popular edition of the DGT™ Newsletter on "Raising Upstanders" for more strategies to prevent bullying.

    Featured Titles

Wishtree by Katherine Applegate
Looking for a great read-aloud chapter book? Wishtree - by the same award-winning author who brought us The One and Only Ivan - is a thought-provoking story told from the perspective of an ancient oak tree. The tree is horrified when a bully abuses the long-time tradition of attaching wishes to the tree, instead spreading hateful messages to Samar, a recent Muslim refugee. Who will step and stand up to the bully? The heart-warming conclusion is fantastic!

Posted by John David Anderson
The charming cast of misfits at the heart of this story is sure to draw middle school readers in quickly. In a school where cell phones have been banned, post it notes become the preferred, and highly ironic, method of communication. It’s all in good fun, until the notes take a turn for the nasty.

Additional DGT Favorites

Blubber by Judy Blume
This classic gives readers a clear picture of both the pain bullying can cause and the speed with which teasing can transform into bullying.

The Boy in the Dress by David Walliams
This delightful, laugh-out-loud story elegantly teaches older readers lessons in kindness and tolerance. Twelve-year-old Dennis is learning to cope with a stressful home life by finding his own passions and making his own choices, however unorthodox they may be.

Blue Cheese Breath and Stinky Feet by Catherine DePino
This is a simple chapter book, perfect for younger readers. Steve is determined to stand up to his bully. He turns to his parents to help him formulate a plan, but will it work?

Confessions of a Former Bully by Trudy Ludwig
Trudy Ludwig is an expert storyteller on the subject of bullying, and this sweet book is no exception. By giving readers the perspective of an engaging bully, Ludwig's book gives readers much to discuss, along with an excellent story.

Drita My Homegirl by Jenny Lombard
Ten-year-old Drita and her family have fled war-torn Kosovo to find safety in America. When Maxie is assigned to show Drita around the new school, the two struggle to find common ground. Sometimes friendship blossoms when you least expect it. And when you need it most.

El Deafo by Cece Bell
This amazing book is sure to be a favorite. The inspiring, autobiographical story of one young girl’s superpowered and super-relatable effort to make a pace for herself at school lends itself to conversations about different abilities, inclusivity, and friendship.

Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan
Sudden tragedy during the great depression forces Esperanza and Mama to flee to California and settle in a camp for Mexican farm workers. Esperanza isn’t ready for the hard labor, financial struggles, or lack of acceptance and bullying she now faces. When their new life is threatened, Esperanza must find a way to rise above her difficult circumstances. It’s a powerful, award-winning and much-loved story.

Feathers by Jacqueline Woodson
Readers will instantly love Frannie, an 11-year-old who strives to be good and "be the one" who stands up for others, in spite of so many challenges. Some days the whole world seems to bully us, but if we learn to stand up and have hope, we can turn things around.

Fish in a Tree by Linda Mullaly Hunt
This is the perfect book for everyone struggling with the sense that they don't fit in. “Everybody is smart in different ways. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its life believing it is stupid.”

Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick
Two boys, a tough guy with a learning disability and genius in leg braces, forge a friendship and overcome a bully.

Ghost by Jason Reynolds
Ghost is on his way to becoming a track star, but can he run fast enough to put his past behind. This book is full of complicated characters, difficult decisions, and opportunities to ask, "What is the right thing to do when you're being bullied?"

Hate List by Jennifer Brown
Teens will be fascinated by the unique situation explored in this eloquent book. When Valerie and her boyfriend Nick created the list of everyone and everything they hate, she had no idea he intended to open fire on their school. Though Valerie is wounded in the attack while attempting to protect another student, she is also implicated in the shootings when the hate list is discovered. Bullying, guilt, regret, and overcoming hard mistakes are just some of the issues that arise in this poignant story.

The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
Looking for one more thing to love about this enchanting series? Emerging research demonstrates that Rowling’s work is an incredible tool for teaching empathy and tolerance. Harry is the subject of significant bullying and badgering at the hands of his nemesis Draco Malfoy. Explore this series together and discuss the many-faceted issues of justice, bullying, and courage found in each of the books.

The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes
Wanda is teased by her classmates for wearing the same tattered dress to school each day. They don't believe her when she tells them of her collection of one hundred beautiful dresses at home. The bullying escalates until Wanda is pulled out of school, and one girl realizes she missed her chance to stand up for Wanda.

If You Believe in Mermaids…. Don’t Tell by A.A. Philips
Especially if your a boy, Todd Winslow knows there are some things you just can do, say, or be in front of others. He tries so hard to fit in at summer camp. He tries so hard to hide his love of mermaids and dressing up. Will he find the courage to overcome expectations and be himself?

Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai
This stunning story is drawn from the author's own experience as a refugee. Told through poetic verse, this novel is known for its illumination of the immigrant experience, but watch for heart-wrenching lessons in the importance of treating people well even when they speak, look, and act differently.

Jake Drake Bully Buster by Andrew Clements
This edition of the popular Jake Drake series reminds us that sometimes even bullies need a little kindness and understanding.

The Liberation of Gabriel King by K. L. Going
Gabe needs liberation from his fears, fears of spiders, corpses, cows, and fifth grade. Gabe's new friend Frita makes it her mission to rid him - and incidentally herself - of fear. This exceptional story covers a lot of ground, including race relations, bullying, politics, and integrity.

Loser by Jerry Spinelli
Newbery-winning author Spinelli gives readers a beautifully written reminder that sometimes being different is exactly what it takes to be spectacular.

The Loser List (series) by H. N. Kowitt
Watch the trailer then read the book to discover how quickly one kid can move from being bullied to being one of the bullies and back again.

Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli
Winner of the Newbery Award in 1990, this is a modern myth featuring a homeless boy struggling with a sense of belonging. When Jeffrey Lionel “Maniac” Magee begins running, his myth really begins. Big conversations about racism, bullying and homelessness are sure to come out of this amazing story.

The Misfits by James Howe
Discover what happens when a group of bullied misfits decides to speak out, stand up, and be themselves.

My Secret Bully by Trudy Ludwig
Bullying hurts most when it comes from a former friend. This book depicts an all-too-common scenario and offers discussion ideas at the end.

Parrotfish by Ellen Wittlinger
This newly updated edition illuminates the transgender experience, and the pain the comes with being shamed for your very identity.

Playground: The Mostly True Story of a Former Bully by 50 Cent
How does a kid become a bully? And what really happened on the playground that day that landed one student in the hospital and another in therapy? This story is sure to get teen readers talking.

The Saturday Boy by David Flemming
Engaging and funny, this story captures the spirit of life as a 10-year-old boy, when the right thing to do or say is never very clear.

A Smart Girl's Guide: Drama, Rumors & Secrets: Staying True to Yourself in Changing Times by Nancy Holyoke
Full of quotes, tips, quizzes, and great advice, this straightforward manual is a great book tohave on hand before bullying is a problem.

Smile by Raina Telgemeir
When Raina trips and smashes her two front teeth, she embarks on a long, embarrassing journey of dental treatments. Fitting in in sixth grade is hard enough, but this sweet, funny book will encourage kids to believe they can get through troubled times.

The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread by Kate DiCamillo.
From the moment he is born Despereaux is distrusted for being different. Who's ever heard of a mouse who doesn't scamper, who reads books, and who falls in love with a human princess? This Newbery winner is a great read-aloud book, and an essential to any big-hearted book collection!

Twerp by Mark Goldblatt
This vivid, often-funny, coming of age story shows us how hard it is to know and do the right thing. Can this sixth grader come to terms with his unmentionable act of bullying?

Wonder and Auggie & Me: Three Wonder Stories  by R. J. Palacio
The story of Auggie Pullman captured the attention of the world when it was first published in 2012. Auggie's unusual face and charming personality inspires an entire community to discuss what compassion, empathy, and kindness means in practice.  Auggie & Me tells the same story from three other perspectives, including that of Julian, the bully who let's his fear of Auggie's difference rule his behavior. These books are essential reading material for all who practice kindness.

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The recommendations we offer are based solely on our mission to empower parents to raise children who care and contribute.