A Growing List of Picture Books about Bullies, Bystanders, and Being Kind

Inspire big-hearted conversations

Teach your child to be an "upstander."

Give your child the tools to take a stand with this growing collection of books, conversation starters, and links.

You may also want to browse our collection of Chapter Books about Bullies, Bystanders, and Being Kind for your older child or your next family read-aloud title.



Talk about the issue.

  • What do you think is the difference between bullying and teasing? (Hint:  One of these is more intentionally mean, recurring, and involves a difference in power between two or more people.)

  • 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 to be a bystander to such behavior?

  • How do you think you could help a friend or classmate who is being bullied? (At DGT™ we proudly call these helpers "Upstanders!")

  • 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.

Recommended Picture Books

Big Red and The Little Bitty Wolf: A Story About Bullying by Jeanie Franz Ransom
This modern twist on a classic fairy tale is an excellent starting point for any conversation about bullying.

Bully on the Bus by Kathryn Apel
Young readers will be empowered by this story's fun use of fairy tales as inspiration to stand up to a bully. Seven-year-old Leroy sure is!

Bully on the Bus (The Decision is Yours Series) by Carl W. Bosch
Nostalgic fans of choose-your-own-adventure books will love this format. And young readers will be empowered to make meaningful decisions about bullying in this compelling, if somewhat dated book.

Chrysanthemum by Keven Henkes
Too often our most unique feature becomes a target for bullies. Chrysanthemum must learn to love her name, and herself, enough to overcome her classmates negativity in this childhood classic.

Desmond and the Very Mean Word by Desmond Tutu and A. G. Ford
What should you do if someone calls you a very mean word? How do you know when to forgive someone? This compassionate story, inspired by Desmond Tutu's childhood in South Africa, is sure to inspire big conversations.

Enemy Pie by Derek Munson
This funny, sweet story features the sort of neighborhood conflict all kids experience. The secret recipe the only cure for conflict, enemy pie, may just inspire your kids to make a few new friends of their own.

Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson
When Chloe and her friends reject new girl Maya, she learns a valuable lesson about accepting people. And the regret of missing an opportunity to share kindness.

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.

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 is so clear and so motivating, even the youngest children will set out at once to fill buckets. Perhaps even more remarkable, even the oldest readers find it inspiring too!

The Invisible Boy by Tracy Ludwig
This charming story will inspire every reader who has ever felt invisible (hint: that's everyone at some time or another!).

My Secret Bully by Trudy Ludwig
Girls can be mean in particularly fierce but subtle ways. This book is perfect for any family coping with a "mean girl" scenario.

My Name is Bilal by Asma Mobin-Uddin, Ph.D. and Barbara Kiwak
Bilal and his sister Ayeesha are the only two Muslim students in their school. When other students tease Ayeesha about her headscarf, Bilal finds the courage to stand up for her.

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.

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 rhymes, and best of all, this book gives you ample opportunity to discuss how bullying begins and how to shut it down.

Stand in My Shoes: Kids Learning About Empathy by Bob Soronson, Ph.D.
The big idea of empathy is boiled down to the simple act of noticing the lives, experiences, and emotions of others. One part mindfulness, one part social skills lesson, and one part sweet story, this book is a helpful tool for your home library.

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.

Stick and Stone by Beth Ferry
This funny story about kindness and friendship is certain to be an on-demand favorite for parents and kids alike.

One by Katheryn Otoshi
The simple text and calming watercolors in this book disguise a complicated story about friendship and standing up for others.

Tease Monster by Julia Cook
Discover the difference between laughing at someone and laughing with someone in this silly story.

Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Palacco
Master storyteller Palacco shares her own childhood experience with a learning disability, bullies, the teacher that made a difference.

The Weird Series by Erin Frankel (Weird, Tough, and Dare)
Featuring three books from the perspective of three different third graders, this series is touching, thoughtful, and a certain conversation starter!


Back to Read Together for more book lists!

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Or check out these projects to practice kindness with your family.


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