My most current writing project is my first attempt at middle grade fiction, those books geared towards children 8-12. (Think early Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Roald Dahl books, Judy Blume books, etc.) In my book, the main character grows up in a small town and wants nothing more in life than to break free and get “to the big city.” In this case the big city is Chicago. Adding to her desire to get out-of-town is the relentless bullying she experiences from another sixth grade girl.
As I work in the schools I know how important anti-bully education is. Schools are active in their attempts to educate teachers about how to spot and stop bullying. I am currently reading Skinnybones by Barbara Park to my fourth and fifth graders. This humorous book follows the life of Alex, a middle grade student who hides his insecurities behind humor, and his big mouth often brings him more grief. When he accidentally puts himself in a pitching contest against his arch-enemy, he really can’t escape from the fact that he is just “skinnybones” and no baseball player at all. The book is engaging. The kids find it humorous. I am pretty confident that many can relate to being the underdog at some point or the other. In the end, Alex does not seek revenge which is a nice change, for I’m not an advocate of “you burn me, I’ll burn you.” However, he does find his own way to shine that puts him on an even playing field, pun intended, which is refreshing.
So, my question today is: What children’s books have you read that handle the topic of bullying in an engaging and accurate way (or any that have not)?