Oct 5, 2013

Anti-Bullying or Pro-Community?

October is Anti-Bullying Month. If you're new to this blog, you may not be aware of my persistent irritation about monthly themes. As much as I value each theme (Anti-Bullying, Black History, Women's History, Hispanic Heritage, even Poetry Month), when I suggest outstanding titles I can't resist the caveat to P-L-E-A-S-E keep these books out and actively shared throughout the year. I cringe at the many times I've seen teachers, even families, "pull out" and "pack away" fantastic titles with intrinsic value as if they are Halloween or Valentine decorations.

Little Brown, Books for Young Readers, 2013

Kids (and plenty of adults, too) benefit from direct instruction in anti-bullying techniques and strategies. Many of the most effective approaches, though, rely on bystander reporting, strength-in-numbers approaches, and others that presume a strong sense of community exists in the setting in which the bullying occurs. That's why it is essential to build and support that sense of trust and safety all year long. What better way to do that than with picture books- compact, complete, compelling, and irresistible, too.

A very recent release is MR. TIGER GOES WILD, written and illustrated by Peter BrownSeemingly simple, this book opens the door for discussions of conformity, peer pressure, expectations, and self-expression. It's an outstanding choice for anti-bullying month/topics, even though Tiger is not directly bullied for his decisions. Tolerance within his peer group, despite their skepticism of his choices, opens options for others, and for ourselves, too.

Dawn Little added a picture-book post on the Nerdy Book Club blog recently, highlighting ten titles that build strong communities. I particularly agree with her approach to multiple and repeated uses throughout the year for different purposes.You'll likely recognize some of these books, but there are a few less-well-known titles among them. I hope you'll click and consider them as a starting point in a new/growing awareness of the multiple underlying themes in many stories. To only share them during a designated month, to pack them away or ignore potential discussions at other times of the year does the books, the readers, and your community a grave disservice. That applies to classrooms and families. 

This post is a bit on the brief side in part because Dawn's titles give you more than enough to consider for now, and I hope you will do so. Active links to some of my prior posts on the topic are also embedded throughout this post.

The other reason to wrap this up quickly came about due to some recent good news I can now share. My debut novel, a middle-grade historical fiction titled ODIN'S PROMISE, will be released early in 2014. That means I've been actively adding content to the new website, www.SandyBrehl.com, including a blog about my writing journey during this process. So, I'm calling on my community of followers, subscribers, and anyone else who stumbles across this blog with an open invitation to take a look at the site, consider following, chime in with comments and questions, and pass along the news to anyone you think might be interested in checking it out.

I plan to continue my posts on picture books here, at about the same weekly schedule, but this particular week zapped away some of the time I usually devote to preparing posts. I value this platform and the readers who join me here. If you know of titles that build community, foster kindness, and confront/overcome bullying, please share them in the comments.


  1. Great post & congrats again on Odin's Promise!

    1. Thanks, Jenny. You're the best cheerleader ever!

  2. Great post, Sandy! I can think of at least one picture book from India that directly addresses bullying - The Bookworm (Karadi Tales). Not sure if the book is available in the US. I reviewed it earlier this year: http://snugglewithpicturebooks.com/the-bookworm/

    1. Richa, Thanks for stopping by with your link to Bookworm. Your post is terrific and I hope others will check it out as well. Sadly, my library network doesn't have it. If more people will request titles like this (in English, but reflecting other parts of the world) more libraries might acquire them. Seeing bullying and community building as universal topics of concern should be fostered at the earliest ages.


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