No Name-Calling Week Suggested Reading List
Alley Oops by Janice Levy (P-5)
Alley Oops explores the painful and embarrassing aftermath of name-calling and bullying, from the perspective of the bully. It’s a story about hurt and anger, empathy and hope, resilience and ingenuity. It’s about actions and consequences. And finally, it’s about that “alley oops!” moment when a child experiences the empowerment and self-esteem that come from doing the right thing.
And To Think That We Thought That We’d Never Be Friends by Mary Ann Hoberman (P-5)
Fights are fights - right? Everyone has them: brothers and sisters, parents and children, friends and neighbors. You each get angry and you vow that you’ll never be friends again! But it doesn’t always have to be that way! For one brother and sister, a simple squabble turns into the biggest and friendliest parade their town, their country, and, in fact, the world have ever seen. And to think that they thought that they’d never be friends!
Blubber by Judy Blume (3-5)
Fifth grader Jill has fun picking on Linda until the tables are turned and she becomes the victim of name-calling. The characters in this book display bad manners as well as some mild bad language (they vandalize a neighbor’s house with eggs, and one calls her teacher a bitch), which has garnered the book much criticism. Still, the incidents of verbal harassment remain realistic and relevant twenty years after the book’s release.
Bluish by Virginia Hamilton (5-8)
Ten-year-old Dreenie, a recent transfer to a New York City magnet school, is fascinated with her fellow classmate Natalie, a girl battling leukemia. Kids call her Bluish, not a derogatory term for her black and Jewish heritage, “Blewish,” but because of the effects of chemotherapy on her skin. Together, Dreenie and her other classmate, Tuli, are able to reach out to the rest of the class in accepting and celebrating Bluish as she is.
Buddha Boy by Kathe Koja (6-10)
At Rucher High, the new kid, Jinsen, is called “Buddha Boy” and considered a freak. He dresses in tie-dye shirts, shaves his head, and begs for lunch money in the cafeteria. So when Justin, the book’s narrator, has to work with Jinsen on a class project, he hopes to get it over with fast. But the discovery of Jinsen’s artistic talent leads to a friendship that changes both boys forever.
Colder than Ice by David Patneaude (3-5)
Josh isn’t happy to be starting at a new school. But maybe it’s finally a chance to be somebody—not so easy for a sixth grader who’s been pretty average and is overweight besides. So when bigshot Corey Kitchens wants Josh to join him and his friends for ice hockey on Poor Rooney’s pond, Josh is pumped. He can see himself skating with the cool seventh graders, a natural success for the first time in his life. He can hardly wait for the ice to get thick. But Skye, the girl with the warm smile, doesn’t trust Corey. And Mark, the strange kid who is afraid of snow, says the coming cold will test the heart. The temperature is falling. And Josh is about to find out the truth—about real friends and real courage.
Crash by Jerry Spinelli (5-8)
“Crash” Coogan, celebrated school jock, has been bullying Penn Ward—small, poor, Quaker, and vegetarian—since the first grade. Crash begins to question his brutality, materialism, and winner-takes-all attitude when his beloved grandfather is disabled by a stroke. Crash takes a second look at Penn, finally accepts his friendship, and begins to grow into a mature and empathetic young man. This powerful story is told from the bully’s point of view.
Define “Normal” by Julie Anne Peters (6-8)
When she agrees to meet with Jasmine as a peer counselor at their middle school, Antonia, an overachiever, never dreams this “punker” girl with the black lipstick and pierced eyebrow will help her with a serious family problem and become a valued friend.
Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson (K-3)
A new girl comes to school and tries to make friends. When Chloe, the narrator, is unkind, the girl keeps trying. And then the girl is gone and Chloe is left only with the memory of her unkindness.
Felita by Nicolasa Mohr (3-5)
Felita faces verbal and physical harassment from the kids on her street when her Puerto Rican family moves to a new neighborhood. Her supportive relatives, especially her grandmother, encourage her to take pride in her heritage and her strength.
Funerals and Fly Fishing by Mary Bartek (3-5)
Brad Stanislawski is looking forward to summer vacation, if only to get away from the classmates who tease him because of his size (it’s not his fault that he grew four inches in one year) and his last name (Stan-is-lousy being their moniker of choice). So when Brad’s mom announces that she’s taking a summer vacation by herself and sending Brad across the country to stay with his estranged grandfather—who happens to be an undertaker—Brad thinks life couldn’t possibly get any worse. Still, as Brad ought to know, first impressions can be deceiving, and a name can hold a lot more than embarrassment. What exactly does it mean to be Brad Stanislawski? In this thoughtful, funny first novel, Brad (with a little help from his grandfather) is about to find out.
The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes (3-5)
In this classic book, Wanda Petronski wears the same faded dress to school every day, and is teased relentlessly when she claims to have a hundred silk and velvet dresses at home. The taunting forces her to leave the school, and causes Maddie to examine her role as a silent bystander during the abuse.
Geography Club by Brent Hartinger (7-11)
Russell Middlebrook is convinced he is the only gay student at his high school until he stumbles across a small group of other gay students. United by their secret, they form a club intended to appear so boring that nobody in their right mind would ever join: the Geography Club. The treacherous terrain of high school dynamics and the pull to be popular undermine even their best intentions and test their values about friendship and bullying. References to sex and underage drinking, though handled responsibly by author, might make this book more appropriate for older students.
Holly’s Secret by Nancy Garden (4-7)
When Holly starts seventh grade in a new town, she decides to hide the fact that her parents are a lesbian couple in order to avoid the taunts and teasing of classmates. Her charade falls apart, and as she endures the barbs of some, she finds out who her real friends are. Mary, one of Holly’s classmates, demonstrates excellent ally behavior.
The Misfits by James Howe (3-5)
This book, by the popular author of Bunnicula and The Watcher, tackles the issue of namecalling and standing up to bias in middle school. The Misfits explores themes including popularity, love and loss, and what it means to be different. The characters, including an open and unapologetically gay boy, are not cast as victims, but as self-empowered agents of change who will stand as solid role models to young readers everywhere.
Mr. Lincoln’s Way by Patricia Polacco (3-5)
Eugene “Mean Gene” Esterhause, the school bully, picks on students, gives his teachers a hard time, and uses racist slurs. Mr. Lincoln, the beloved school principal, is determined to reach the boy, and asks him to help attract birds to the new school atrium. “Mean Gene” is enthusiastic, but continues making racist remarks. As the story unfolds and a bond develops between the Caucasian student and his African-American principal, it becomes apparent that “Mean Gene” learned his hatred at home.
My Name is Maria Isabel by Alma Flor Ada (P-5)
For Maria Isabel Salazar Lopez, the hardest thing about being the new girl in school is that the teacher doesn’t call her by her real name. “We already have two Marias in this class,” says her teacher. “Why don’t we call you Mary instead?” But Maria Isabel has been named for her Papa’s mother and for Chabela, her beloved Puerto Rican grandmother. Can she find a way to make her teacher see that if she loses her name, she’s lost the most important part of herself?
The Night the Bells Rang by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock (3-5)
Mason is the victim of bully, Aden Cutler, and often takes his frustration out on his own younger brother. But an unexpected act of kindness from Aden, followed by his death in World War I, make Mason reevaluate his treatment of his sibling and his perceptions of his tormentor.
Pinky and Rex and the Bully by James Howe (3-5)
Pinky’s favorite color is pink, and his best friend, Rex, is a girl. Kevin, the third-grade bully, says that makes Pinky a sissy. Deep down, Pinky thinks Kevin is wrong, but he’s still worried. Does Pinky have to give up his favorite things, and worse, does he have to give up his best friend? Useful as a peer lively watercolor illustrations show the child in a diverse school community, where kids are picked on and called names for being slow or different. The girl feels sad for them, but she looks away—until one day, when she is alone, the bullies make her cry, and her friends do nothing. The dramatic climax is quiet: the girl reaches out to a child who always sits alone on the bus, and the children have fun together. This is one of the best of the recent books for discussion about teasing; its direct, first-person narrative and informal portraits bring close classroom, hallway, and schoolyard scenarios for kids and adults to talk about.
Yoko by Rosemary Wells (P-2)
What a great day it’s going to be! Yoko’s mother has made her favorite sushi for lunch and packed it in a willow-covered cooler. The bus whisks Yoko to school where she greets all her friends and joins in the Good Morning Song. But when lunchtime arrives, suddenly everyone notices Yoko’s sushi. The teasing starts and her happy day evaporates. With an uncanny understanding of the pleasures and pains of an ordinary school day, Rosemary Wells has created a tender, irresistible story, true to the heart of childhood.
The Revealers by Doug Wilhelp (5-8) At Parkland Middle School, three students—Elliot, Russell, and Catalina—have had enough of the bullying that plagues their daily lives. By starting an email forum at school, their collective statements inspire words from other kids who are equally fed up with these harmful acts. Just when the tide seems to be turning for the better, an act of revenge by a few students still bent on bullying others threatens the underground rebellion that has the whole school talking.
The Sixth Grade Nickname Game by Gordon Korman (4-6)
Best friends Wiley and Jeff are notorious for the clever nicknames they’ve given to people in their school. They’ve even named their own class “The Dim Bulbs” because they don’t do as well in school as the other sixth grade class, dubbed “The Bright Lights.” Unfortunately, this has everyone in the class believing that they are incapable of doing well on a state reading test, which puts their teacher’s job at risk. In addition, as Wiley and Jeff vie for the attention of Cassandra, a new student who defies all labels, their nicknaming turns to name-calling, their friendship is threatened, and the boys finally examine what’s in a name.
Thief of Hearts by Lawrence Yep (5-8)
Stacy has never thought of herself as anything but American until her parents ask her to befriend a Chinese immigrant, Hong Ch’un, the daughter of a family friend. When items stolen from people around the school are found in Hong Ch’un’s backpack, a schoolmate calls Stacy “halfbreed” for defending her. Stacy is shocked into realizing she’s not like everyone else.
Cherries and Cherry Pits by Vera B. Williams (P-2)
No one can tell a story quite like Bidemmi. When she starts to draw, her imagination takes off. Enter her world, look at her pictures, and watch her stories grow and grow - just like the forest of cherry trees she imagines right on her own block.
Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes (P-2)
Chrysanthemum thinks her name is absolutely perfect, until her first day of school. “You’re named after a flower!” teases Victoria. “Let’s smell her,” says Jo. Chrysanthemum wilts. What will it take to make her blossom again?
It’s OK to be Different by Todd Parr (P-2)
From the sensitive (“It’s okay to be adopted” – the accompanying illustration shows a kangaroo with a puppy in her pouch), to the downright silly (“It’s okay to eat macaroni and cheese in the bathtub”), children of every shape, size, color, family makeup and background will feel included in this witty, colorful book.
Just Kidding by Trudy Ludwig (P-5)
“Just kidding!” That’s what D.J’s friend, Vince, says when he does something to hurt D.J’s feelings. It’s supposed to make what he says seem like a joke, but D.J. doesn’t think it’s funny. Yet how can D.J. stand up to Vince’s teasing without looking like a bad sport? Speaker and children’s advocate, Trudy Ludwig, takes a rare look at emotional bullying among boys—situations where a buddy can be a bully and where two innocent words can mask a painful reality.
King of the Playground by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (P-2)
Kevin’s playtime is no fun anymore! Every time he goes to the playground, Sammy comes over and starts bullying him. It doesn’t matter what he’s doing—swinging, sliding, or climbing on the monkey bars—Sammy always finds him. Kevin wishes Sammy would just leave him alone. But one day Kevin realizes that Sammy can’t actually do any of the things he says he will. Maybe Kevin’s playtime can be fun after all!?!
Mr. Lincoln’s Way by Patricia Polacco (1-4)
Eugene “Mean Gene” Esterhause, the school bully, picks on students, gives his teachers a hard time, and uses racist slurs. Mr. Lincoln, the beloved school principal, is determined to reach the boy, and asks him to help attract birds to the new school atrium. “Mean Gene” is enthusiastic, but continues making racist remarks. As the story unfolds and a bond develops between the Caucasian student and his African-American principal, it becomes apparent that “Mean Gene” learned his hatred at home. Though intended for a younger audience, the subject matter and detailed illustrations can engage older students.
My Secret Bully by Trudy Ludwig, illustrations by Abigail Marble (1-6)
Monica is bullied, not by the class thug, but by her close friend Katie. This book explores relational bullying, a phenomenon that is often ignored. In her tightly knit group of friends, Monica is the victim of Katie’s hurtful words and gossip. But Monica’s mother gives her advice that helps her cope successfully. This picture book is useful as a read-aloud for older students.
Name Calling by Itah Sadu (K-4)
Students deal with racist name-calling in the schoolyard of an ethnically diverse school. The brilliant illustrations in this short picture book capture a diverse student body. Useful as a peer education tool when read to younger students by older ones.
Nobody Knew What to Do by Becky Ray McCain, illustrated by Todd Leonardo (K-3)
In this short but powerful book, a boy tries to figure out what to do when he repeatedly witnesses a classmate being bullied. Intended for a younger audience, this book is useful for a peer education project if read to younger students by older ones. The realistic illustrations and straightforward delivery of the story make it a compelling read-aloud.
Oliver Button is a Sissy by Tomie DePaola (P-2)
Oliver Button would rather read, dance and draw pictures than play football like the other boys. His classmates’ taunts don’t stop him from doing what he likes best, and his practice and persistence pay off in the end – when Oliver Button is a star.
Play Lady/La Senora Juguetona by Eric Hoffman (P-2)
Miguel’s next-door neighbor is Jane Kurosawa, but everyone calls her Play Lady. Like the kids in the neighborhood, Play Lady loves the mud, and she even lets the children make a river in her yard. When Play Lady is the victim of a hate crime, the children figure out how to help their friend and heal their neighborhood.
The Recess Queen by Alexis O’Neill (P-2)
Mean Jean was Recess Queen and nobody said any different. Nobody swung until Mean Jean swung. Nobody kicked until Mean Jean kicked. Nobody bounced until Mean Jean bounced. If kids ever crossed her, she’d push ‘em and smoosh ‘em, lollapaloosh ‘em, hammer ‘em, slammer ‘em, kitz and kajammer ‘em…until a new kid came to school…
Say Something by Peggy Moss (P-2)
Can one person make a difference? Moss’ obviously didactic book, which seems designed for group discussion about bullying, focuses on the role of the bystander, a girl who sees the sadness of the victim but does nothing (“I walk on the other side of the hall. I don’t say those things”).
Wings by Christopher Myers (All ages)
The award winning author and illustrator of Black Cat and Harlem offers a retelling of a myth which highlights the beauty and perils of being different. Ikarus Jackson is very different: he has wings and he can fly. But at school, his wings attract too much attention, and kids think he is “showing off.” One girl realizes he must be lonely and resolves to step in and stop the hurtful words coming his way. Exquisite art illustrates beauty in what may first appear unusual.
VIDEOS FOR STUDENTS
Boys on Bullying (Grades 4 and up)
Five boys tell how bullying impacted their lives and how support from family, friends and the community helped. Boys on Bullying earned the 2001 CINE Golden Eagle Award for excellence in filmmaking. 20 minutes. Available from AboutHealth.com at http://www.familyhealth.net.
Bullying: You Don’t Have To Take It Anymore (Grades 7-12)
Using dramatic scenarios and interviews with experts in the field, this video/print resource helps students better understand what bullying is, how it affects victims and what can be done to improve the situation. Strategies are also provided for school officials, teachers, and parents. Available from Human Relations Media at http://www.hrmvideo.com.
Don’t Pick On Me (Grades 7-12)
This program examines the dynamics behind teasing and being teased, and models effective responses to being harassed. It challenges viewers to explore the issue of peer cruelty through thought-provoking discussion questions. 21 minutes. Available from Sunburst Technology at http://sun-burst-store.com.
Let’s Get Real (Grades 5 and up)
This film examines a variety of issues that lead to taunting and bullying, including racial differences, perceived sexual orientation, learning disabilities, religious differences, sexual harassment, and others. The film not only gives a voice to targeted students, but also to those who do the bullying to find out why they lash out at their peers and how it makes them feel. The most heartening part of Let’s Get Real includes stories of young people who have mustered the courage to stand up for themselves or a classmate. 35 minutes. Available from Women’s Educational Media at http://www.womedia.org.
Set Straight on Bullies (Grades K-9)
Set Straight on Bullies was created to help parents, educators, law enforcers, other concerned citizens, and students understand exactly what bullying is and how it can be prevented. The video explores all sides of the bullying problem—from bully to victim to the parents of both, as well as the community and educational system this problem undermines. Shown through the eyes of a young bullying victim, it brings to light the damaging effect that bullying has on all who are involved. 18 minutes. Available from the National Education Service at http://www.nesonline.com.
Using Your Wits: Strategies to Stop Bullying (Grades 3-7)
Proven effective in elementary school trials for reducing bullying, this research-based program consists of six dramatizations that demonstrate for elementary school students sure-fire ways to respond to common bullying situations. Available from Human Relations Media at http://www.hrmvideo.com.
PROGRAMS AND CURRICULA
The Bully Free Classroom by A. Beane. Minneapolis: Free Spirit (1999)
The Bullying Prevention Handbook: A Guide for Principals, Teachers and Counselors by J.H. Hoover & R.O. Oliver. Bloomington: National Education Service 1996)
Bullying at School: What We Know and What We Can Do by D. Olweus. Blackwell Publishers (1994)
Childhood Bullying and Teasing: What School Personnel, Other Professionals, and Parents Can Do by D.M. Ross. Alexandria: American Counseling Association (1996)
The Complete Guide to Service Learning: Proven, Practical Ways to Engage Students in Civic Responsibility, Academic Curriculum, and Social Action by C. B. Kaye. Minneapolis: Free Spirit (2004)
Conflict Resolution in the Middle School by W. Kreidler. Cambridge: Educators for Social Responsibility (1999)
How to Deal with Bullying at School: A Teacher Handbook by D. Olweus. Blackwell Publishers How to Handle Bullies, Teasers, and Other Meanies by K. Cohn-Posie. Highland City: Rainbow (1995)
Operation Respect: Don’t Laugh at Me, at http://www.dontlaugh.org.
Ready, Set, Respect! GLSEN’s Elementary School Toolkit: Developed in partnership with NAESP and NAEYC, this kit provides additional lessons on name-calling and bullying as well as lessons on gender roles, and family diversity. glsen.org/readysetrespect
No Name-Calling Week: http://www.NoNameCallingWeek.org
Raven Days: http://www.ravendays.org/
Stop Bullying Now: http://www.stopbullyingnow.com/
Take A Stand. Lend A Hand. Stop Bullying Now!: http://stopbullyingnow.org