Books on friends and bullies that can help kids navigate social relationships.
Yesterday my ten-year-old came home with the news that a friend had received a cruel letter from an unknown classmate. “The principal came to talk to our class, and she was crying, Mom.” I’m afraid letters like these are all too common. I’m glad my daughter has a principal who will be vulnerable enough to cry, because words do, indeed, hurt. Making friends and dealing with bullies is part of every schoolchild’s existence. The physical bullying of my childhood is much less common, but the verbal and written is much harder to fight, because it is harder to see. The internet and social media have given rise to a brand-new form of bullying since people can bully via text message, or post that video they took of you throwing up in school for everyone to see.
Books for Kids About Making Friends and Dealing with Bullies
Short of cutting off all social relationships (not recommended), there is no way to guarantee your child will never be bullied. Talking and keeping open communication with children is probably the best route. It allows us to be aware of what is going on in their world, and allows us to brainstorm solutions and even intervene when necessary. Today I’m sharing some favorite books – both fiction and non-fiction – that deal with friendship, bullying, and navigating social relationships.
Update. This afternoon, the parent of the girl in my daughter’s class called me on the phone to thank Emma. It turns out that, today, Emma wrote the girl a kind letter. I had no idea she would do this, and probably would have never heard anything of it if the girl’s mother had not taken time to call me. I can’t take credit for this happening; I had talked to Emma yesterday about the importance of being especially kind to this girl right now, but that was all that was said. I do think that exposing my children to books that deal with these topics as well as talking about them as a family makes a difference.
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Gossie is a wonderful book about sharing and making friends that will appeal to young children.
We adore the entire Elephant & Piggie series. My New Friend Is So Fun! deals with the fear that a new friend will displace you in a friend’s life.
The Invisible Boy is a wonderful story of one boy reaching out to another (do you know how hard it is to find good books about boys being friends with boys?). It is also an excellent example of quieter children making friends.
In RAYBOT: Every Robot Needs a Friend, RAYBOT the Robot is lonely, so he travels the world in search of a friend. He is looking for a dog, after finding a clipping about a dog being your best friend. The surprise ending with both make you giggle and warm your heart.
Wonder is a must-read book about being different and the importance of friendship. This is one of my daughter Emma’s favorite books, and it will be featured in a “reviewed by Emma” post in the near future..
Friends: Making Them & Keeping Them is part of a wonderful series on friendship created by the AmericanGirl brand. I would LOVE for someone to create a series like this for boys! Emma also loves The Feelings Book, A Smart Girl’s Guide to Knowing What to Say, and Drama, Rumors & Secrets: Staying True to Yourself in Changing Times.
If you have a child who doesn’t intuitively understand social interactions, The Social Skills Picture Book is a must-have resource! This book has photo illustrations of all sorts of social scenarios, and explains why peers react the way they do. There is a follow-on social skills book for high school and beyond.
Children can be cruel without realizing it. Tease Monster: A Book About Teasing Vs. Bullying helps distinguish teasing in fun from “teasing” that is really bullying.
In The Bully Blockers Club, a group of children form a club to stand up to cruel peers.
I feel like in some ways it is harder for a boy to be different than a girl to be different. In Ballerino Nate, a young boy learns to do what he loves and helps others see the value of his interests in the process.
I like Simon’s Hook; A Story About Teases and Put-downs both for its advice on dealing with teasing as well as because it is a rare example of a child going to an adult for help and receiving sound advice and support.
Kids know bullying is bad, but they don’t always know what to do about it. Say Something highlights one way to make a difference. This book also includes resources at the end to help parents and children talk about bullying and what can be done to stop it at school.
Stop Picking On Me provides an excellent overview of what bullying looks like. I also like that it mentions that grown-ups can be bullies too. My second grade teacher (who was later fired) was very much a bully to three children in my class.
Am I Really Different? is a beautiful book about the value in being different.
The Hundred Dresses is a timeless tale about the harm of cruel words, and why it is important to DO something about bullying. This book is an excellent read-aloud choice, so that you can discuss what happens with your children.
Inside Out and Back Again is a book of poems about a young girl immigrating as a refugee from Vietnam. The book deals with both bullying and friendship.
My Secret Bully deals with those times when someone who claims they are your friend is really not your friend at all.
Confessions of a Former Bully is a rare look at bullying from the inside. Once a bully does not have to mean always a bully.
Boarding school books often focus on friendship dynamics and bullying. With parents separated from their children, these issues become larger than in any other situation. Explore both bullying and friendship with your child as they read the Harry Potter Series.
More posts from blogging friends about making friends and dealing with bullies:
- 5 Better Ideas than Bully Proofing Your Child from Thriving Stem
- I thought our school does not have bullying… from Planet Smarty Pants
- Teach Your Kids How to Choose the Right Friends from The Resourceful Mom
- Notes in the Locker by 3 Dinosaurs
- Simple Anti-bullying Activity for “One” by Kathryn Otoshi from Books and Giggles
Do you have a favorite book about making friends or dealing with bullies that you recommend?
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MaryAnne lives is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.
8 thoughts on “Books for Kids About Making Friends and Dealing with Bullies”
I remember reading The Hundred Dresses as a kid and I think it’s one of the best books ever for third grade girls and older — 3rd grade is typically when you see more girl bullying according to our teachers.
This is a much needed post for parents as well as for their children. I hope you continue to write on this topic. It is such an emotional topic, dealing with a number of emotions. There is much to be learned and love that you tackle it with positive solutions. Being a mom of a child with out of the box needs I can certainly relate to your parenting here. Thank you for sharing!
It really is hard to find good picture books about boys being friends, isn’t it? But then you get to chapter books and there’s a plethora of books.
That is true – it gets better as kids get older.
What a wonderful, thorough, list! I think “Queen Bees and Wannabes” is a helpful book relating especially to female group dynamics.
As a mum at home, I spend a percentage of my time monitoring sibling interactions, asking “does that show love?” and/or “Would you want him/her to do that to you?” These simple questions help my kids reflect on how their actions impact others. I also have my kids assert, “I didn’t like it when you…” if they were on the receiving end of something they perceived as unkind.
I would be interested how you handle this in your family, MaryAnne, because there is always more to learn and you come from a big family yourself!
Thanks for the book recommendation! I haven’t read that one and will look for a copy.
We talk a lot about kindness in my family. I also spend a lot of time monitoring interactions, similarly to what you describe. When the kids are fighting a lot, it’s a sign they either need to play outside or do something useful (practice, clean, organize, help cook dinner – something that contributes to the family or their own general well-being).
This is a wonderful book list and the topic is so important for our kids’ well-being in school!
Books are always a great way to start a conversation, inform or just make someone feel like they are understood. You have a great list here.
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