Turns out that while sticks and stones can break your bones, words, too, can really hurt you. In honor of proving that out-of-date childhood adage incorrect, the week of Jan. 23-27 has been set aside as No Name-Calling Week in schools across the country. Check out these great children's book titles that can help you reinforce this important message at home:
Bullies Never Win by Margery Cuyler
This easy-to-relate-to children's book tells the tale of Brenda Bailey, a bully who persistently and relentlessly taunts and teases her classmate, Jessica. Cuyler creates an accurate portrayal of how targets like Jessica typically respond to bullying, including experiencing anxiety, losing sleep, quitting sports, changing their style of dress, and fearing asking for help. She also uses Jessica to show young readers that the best way to handle bullies is to stand up to them in assertive ways. Jessica's bold "Toothpicks may be thin, but bullies never win," is a triumphant moment of self-defense that can inspire and embolden elementary school-aged readers.
My Secret Bully by Trudi Ludwig
My Secret Bully, written for tween readers, lifts the lid off of the hidden culture of relational aggression, otherwise known as girl bullying. It tells the story of Monica and Katie -- two girls who have been friends since kindergarten, but who now are facing a rift in their relationship, as Katie begins to exclude and embarrass her former friend in front of their other classmates. In tackling this painful subject of the ways in which some girls use relationships as weapons, Ludwig provides an accurate and not-often-addressed portrait of a young girl's anguish at the hands of a 'frenemy.' My Secret Bully is not a light-hearted portrayal of bullying, nor does it offer pat answers. But it does address an important issue in the lives of upper elementary and middle school-aged girls, and can serve as a great springboard for discussions with parents.
One by Kathryn Otoshi
You know how sometimes a book comes along that you just know you will hold on to long after your child is done with it? Borrowing it from the library will not do -- you have to own it and you are certain it will be a top gift pick for any of your Mom friends. For me, that book is this one! Part of the magic of One is the significance of its message, conveyed in the simplest of terms and illustrations. This multi-award winner is one of the best books I've read (and I've read a lot!) on the subject of the power that one child can have to change a bullying situation and to stand up for themselves in a way that garners self-respect and promotes dignity for all.
For more information about helping kids change the culture of bullying in schools and for engaging discussion ideas to use during No Name-Calling Week, please visit www.signewhitson.com or check out Friendship & Other Weapons: Group Activities to Help Young Girls Cope with Bullying. Additional resources for No-Name Calling Week can also be found on Signe's Facebook page or @SigneWhitson on Twitter.