Thursday, April 4, 2013

Bullying is subject of books, audio resources

On Tuesday I viewed an ALA Booklist webinar, “No Name Calling: Addressing Bullying Through Books.” Moderated by Booklist associate editor Annie Kelley, the webinar featured a presentation by Emily Bazelon, author of Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy (Random House, 2013).

"Sticks and Stones" by Emily Bazelon
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According to Bazelon, it’s important to use stories to increase children’s empathy. In her book, Bazelon said, she asks a series of questions “why” people behaved as they did, but not to excuse or blame their behavior. Rather, stories help identify nuances in situations where good and bad are not always clearly defined.

Cheryl Herman, marketing director of Listening Library and Books on Tape, drew attention to children’s and young adult audio books that address bullying, highlighted at Titles mentioned by Herman included Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth Laban, S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders and Blubber by Judy Bloom.

Among the titles, I had most recently read Scrawl by Mark Shulman. What I found interesting about this book is that there was more than one bully and the bullies had different motivations. Tod took other students’ lunch money because his family was poor. But Tod in turn was being cyber-bullied; a student named Greg with power and privilege was posting humiliating videos of Tod on the Internet.

Herman seconded Bazelon’s belief in the power of stories, saying literature is a perfect tool for teaching empathy. An interview with Bazelon is featured at

Judy Galbraith, president and founder of Free Spirit Publishing, highlighted books and resources that address bullying from perspectives of the target, bystander and bully. I believe bystanders play an important part in prevention of bullying and I appreciate that perspective being advocated during the webinar.

Titles highlighted by Galbraith include Vicious, an anthology of true stories by teens about bullying from a variety of perspectives and Teen Cyberbullying Investigated, cases compiled by Judge Thomas A. Jacobs that examine rights and consequences related to online speech and cyberbullying. A companion website allows readers to “Ask the Judge.”

Carrie Gleason, editor of Lorimer, was the final presenter.

Deal With It is a conflict resolution series for ages 9 to 12. Many titles address bullying and role playing is key in the books according to  Gleason.

In each book, the “101” section defines principles, tests knowledge and challenges assumptions about the topic. Sections in the books examine the perspectives of the target, bully and bystander. Gleason said the books can be used one-on-one or in small groups. Resource guides are available free as PDFs from the website.

The presentations were accompanied by slides highlighting the books about bullying.

Taking place on Tuesday, the webinar coincided with World Autism Day. Children with autism experience high rates of bullying, which gave the webinar personal relevance. I could also directly speak to points raised during the webinar about long-term effects of bullying.

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