Raising the topic of bullying with our little ones is always tricky. Books are excellent teachers. Below is a recommended reading list of children's picture books on bullying to read together with your child(ren) that will hopefully give them the courage and confidence to stand up to bullying in all its forms.

book recommendations on bullying, best books on bullying

Wonder by R. J. Palacio

'Wonder' was inspired after Palacio and her three-year-old son encountered a girl with facial birth defects whilst queuing for ice cream. On seeing the girl's disfigured face, her son started to cry. Attempting to remove her son from the situation to calm him down and avoid upsetting the girl and her family, the situation became worse. Palacio wanted to write a book that helped other kids understand, be aware of and embrace our differences. This is how 'Wonder' was born - the name itself was inspired by Natalie Merchant's song 'Wonder' and she even included the song's chorus as the prologue for the first chapter of the book.  

An upbeat, life-affirming story (written from multiple perspectives) that makes you want to laugh and cry at the same time. It teaches you not to judge others whilst leaving you with the realisation that everyone has their ups and downs, whether you are disadvantaged or not.

books on bullying, wonder, r j  palacio

Bad Girls by Jacqueline Wilson

Mandy, a shy ten year old, is horribly bullied at school. She feels isolated, unable to fit in. To make matters worse her mum is very overprotective whilst her dad is timid and unable to stand up for himself.

Then an accident happens, requiring her to spend a few days at home. During this time she meets Tanya (at the dismay of her mother who thinks she is a very bad influence.) Tanya is four years older than Mandy and everything that Mandy is not: a tough cookie who is very cheeky indeed. Tanya enters Mandy's life at the right time teaching her how to fight her own corner and become more confident. The book, beautifully written, shows us how to become more aware of bullies and see them for what they truly are as well as deal with them more confidently. Whilst the book also touches on some tricky subjects such as suicide and death, it is a must-read for your child if you want to encourage them to adopt a more confident mindset that allows them to embrace more positive behaviours. If your child has ever been bullied, he or she may find themselves connecting with Mandy, empathising with her plight and that in itself can be powerfully cathartic.

books on bullying, bad girls 

Matilda by Roald Dahl

A highly imaginative and engaging read from Roald Dahl about a 5 and a half year old girl who is super smart (she can read Dickens and solve complicated Math problems) and is adored by her classmates. Her real problems arise because of her horrid school principal Ms Trunchbull and her parents who whilst self-centred are pretty much non-existent when it comes to parenting. Ms Trunchbull a scaremonger and who was once a hammer-throwing champion literally bullies all the school children and especially their sweet teacher Ms Honey. Matilda as smart as she is also has the emotional intelligence and virtues such as patience and calm to deal with Ms Trunchbull and protect the lovely Ms Honey. She saves the day however in usual Dahl style, the ending is beautifully unpredictable! Help children and adults unlike connect with Matilda particularly with all the variety of little feelings she experiences throughout the book. An imaginative take on bullying.

 books on bullying, matilda, roald dahl

Teasing Isn't Funny by Melissa Higgins

An emotional book, filled with gender neutral animal characters tells the story about a little cat called Kelly who is bullied about her fluffy hair and plain clothes by the other animals on the school bus. Fortunately Kelly’s lovely friend Alex counsels Kelly telling her that she shouldn’t believe what the other kids are saying and that speaking to an adult about it always helps. Kelly picks up the courage to talk to the school principal about it and garners great support from her pal Alex which helps her survive the painful bus journeys.

Illustrated beautifully it offers young readers tips on how to deal with teasing.

 teasing isn't funny, books on bullying, melissa higgins

Tyrannosaurus Drip by Julia Donaldson and David Roberts

An entertaining reinvention of the “Ugly Duckling” story where a little duckbill dinosaur, nicknamed Tyrannosaurus Drip, finds himself born in the wrong dinosaur family: Tyrannosauruses! He is accidentally dropped in the wrong nest finding himself in this predicament. Neither big nor scary and more keen on vegetarian water weed than his meat-eating siblings, Tyrannosaurus Drip finds himself bullied by them for not being mean enough. It all gets too much and little Tyrannosaurus runs away to his birth family. When the Tyrannosauruses come to attack he stands up to them saving the day for him and his true family and becoming a real hero.

A story that rhymes with beautiful illustrations, a wonderful story about belonging, standing up for yourself and finding your inner confidence. Plus if your child is a fan of dinosaurs the story is a special treat.

 books on bullying, julia donaldson, tyrannosaurus drip

Leave Me Alone by Kes Gray and Lee Wildish

An empowering story about a little boy who is sad, scared and tired of being bullied every day by a GIANT! However what is so lovely about this story, is that the boy has a whole team of friends (a cow, rabbit, cat, robin, frog and fly amongst other animals) who want to support him and help him stand up to the GIANT bully.

The little boy, lacking conviction in his friends, tells them they cannot help him! Yet when the GIANT comes by again all of the little boy’s friends cheer and shout together against the GIANT telling him to leave the little boy alone! It works and the GIANT bully goes away!

The power of the group of friends standing up for their friend, the little boy, reinforces the message that bullies and bullying behaviour should not be tolerated and we can all come together to stamp this out. Not only does it teach little children about the importance of standing up for yourself but also about standing up for and supporting others when you see bad behaviour taking place.

A delightful and uplifting read for little children.

leave me alone, kes gray, books on bullying 


Related recommended reading lists:

Anxiety (Helping your child manage anxiety)

Anxiety (Helping your teenager manage anxiety) 

Being Brave

Emotions (Learning and understanding emotions for toddlers)

Empowering your toddler

Starting Daycare/Pre-school

Toilet Training (Picture Books)


More book prescriptions can be found at Book Therapy.

A big hello and thank you for reading! Passionate about literature, psychology, and life I launched Book Therapy as an alternative form of therapy using the power of literature. I create reading lists/personalised book prescriptions based on your individual needs, this is my signature personalised reading service. You can also check out Book Therapy’s other free reading lists and A- Z of book prescriptions (covering both fiction and non-fiction). These suggest books based on your existing life situation (e.g. anxiety, job change, relationship heartache) as well as interests (e.g memoir, historical fiction, non-fiction, crime etc). There’s also a Children’s A — Z of Book Prescriptions. Feel free to check out the blog for more literary gems. There’s also a post on my personal story of how I entered the world of bibliotherapy and book curation. And if you’d like to connect, email me at bijal@booktherapy.io or www.booktherapy.io.

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