Blubber, by Judy Blume. When Linda, an overweight girl, gives a presentation about whales, the class begins to ostracize her. The instigator is Wendy, the class president. And when Jill disobeys her, she becomes the object of torment herself. This class is perfect for eight-twelve-year-olds.
Hate List, by Jennifer Brown. After Valerie’s boyfriend Nick opens fire on their school cafeteria, she is implicated because she helped him create a “hate list,” which he used to identify his targets. Valerie has to deal with her guilt about the shooting. A good book for teenagers.
Bully, by Judith Caseley. In this picture book, Mickey struggles to overcome a bully named Jack. Though his parents try to help, it is Mickey’s own problem-solving strategy that enables him to befriend his oppressor. For young kids.
The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier. At a private high school, a secret society, the Vigils, controls the students. When Jerry, the main character, defies the Vigils, he is seen as a hero-but also mercilessly bullied. Often taught in middle school.
Before I Die, by Jenny Downham. This book isn’t about bullying- it’s about a girl who is dying from cancer. But it’s so heart-stoppingly good—beautifully written, brimming with empathy, and full of insight into the main characters’ relationships with her parents and her friendships- that I have to recommend it. For teenagers.
Stinky Stern Forever, by Michelle Edwards. No one in the second grade likes Stinky because he is mean to all of the other kids. So when he dies in a car accident, his classmates have to figure out how to mourn someone who bullied them. Great for ages six to eight.
Hooway for Wodney Wat, by Helen Lester, illustrated by Lynn Munsinger. Rodney Rat is teased because he can’t say his r’s properly. But when a bully joins the class, it’s Rodney who becomes a hero, by standing up to her. For young readers.
Wonder, by R.J. Palacio. August Pullman has a serious birth defect that left his face misshapen. When he goes to school for the first time in fifth grade, he has to negotiate his classmates’ hesitation and even disgust- and his own fears, too. An incredibly moving and closely observed portrait, filled with empathy and also wit. For nine to ninety(and a great audiobook).
Vintage Veronica, by Erica S. Perl. At fifteen, Veronica is “fashion-minded, fat and friendless,” as the author puts it. When two older girls she works with at a vintage clothing store convince her to spy on a socially awkward stock boy, Veronica finds herself in the middle of much more than a prank- and has to navigate the surprising dynamics that result. For teenagers.
Blue Boy, by Rakesh Satyal. The story of Kiran Sharma, a twelve-year-old Indian boy growing up in 1990s Cincinatti who is mocked for playing with dolls and choosing ballet over basketball-and then has a divine revelation. Frequently taught in high school; much food for thought for teenagers.
Loser, by Jerry Spinelli. The kid hero of this short novel, Donald Zinkoff, is not a cool kid. At field day, his slow running makes his team lose a big race. And then Donald overcomes his limitations and comes through for a friend-even if it doesn’t turn out as he planned. A funny, empathetic, and accessible read for seven-to thirteen-year-olds.
Story of a Girl, by Sara Zarr. When sixteen-year-old Deanna Lambert id found in the backseat of a car with her brother’s best friend, she becomes known as the “school slut.” She struggles to overcome the damage to her reputation. For teenagers.
MOVIES AND VIDEOS
Bullied: Teen Stories from Generation PRX. Produced by two Hartford, Connecticut, teenagers for other teenagers, this audio show explores the stories of bullied students from Alaska to Connecticut. www.generation.prx.org/bullied.
Bully Dance. A ten-minute animated film with ideas for kids about dealing with bullies creatively. www.bullfrogfilms.com/catalog/bully.html.
DISconnected. An MTV original movie for teenagers, in which four young people get to know each other through a live-streaming website. One of them uses the anonymity of the Internet to criticize others and avoid harassment himself. www.mtv.com/shows/disconnected/series.jhtml.
It Gets Better is Dan Savage’s YouTube project of encouragement for LGBT youth, whith clips posted by more than forty thousand people, including many celebrities. An hour-long It Gets Better documentary, narrated by Savage, tells the stories of three LGBT kids as they struggle to find acceptance. www.itgetsbetter.org/ and www.thegavoice.com/blog/television/4210-mtv-highlights-it-getsbetter-project-with-documentary.
The Karate Kid. The 1984 movie in which a master of martial arts teaches a bullied boy to stand up for himself, and not just by fighting. www.imdb.com/title/tt0087538.
Lady Gaga: Inside the Outside. An MTV documentary in which Lady Gaga speaks of her experience as a bullied high school student. www.mtv.com/shows/lady_gaga_inside_the_outside/series.jhtml.
Marina’s Video: My Life Is No Place for Hate. In Chapter 2, you met Marina. Here is her moving video about being harassed, coming out, and the support she got from an Anti-Defamation League club at school. www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7lvRuWXOfk.
Mean Girls. Tina Fey’s classic and hilarious 2004 satire on the terrors of high school. www.imdb.com/title/tt0377092.
My Bodyguard. A sweet and earnest 1980 movie about being harassed as the new kid, and recruiting the scariest-seeming kid in school to help. www.imdb.com/title/tt0081207.
“Stand Up: Don’t Stand for Homophobic Bullying.” An excellent four minute Irish public service announcement about two young men who are harassed after a group of boys discovers them holding hands. In the end, straight couples stand up and join hands with the bullied pair in solidarity. www.youtube.com/watch?v=lrJxqvalFxM.
ORGANIZATIONS AND PROGRAMS
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, works to combat anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry, and helps form clubs in schools to prevent bullying and harassment. www.adl.org.
Cometfire offers LGBT students in New York a space to talk about issues of sexuality, youth sexual confusion, and self-esteem. The group is a collaboration of PFLAG NYC and Manhattan’s Jewish Community Center and LGBT Community Center. It’s an example of the kind of youth group that can help if you’re struggling with these issues. www.pflagnyc.org/support/cometfire.
Sources of Strength, founded in North Dakota, is a school-and community-based program that seeks to prevent suicide, violence, and substance abuse. Adult advisors work with peer leaders. www.sourcesofstrength.org.
Stop Bullying: Speak Up is Facebook’s campaign against bullying. www.facebook.com/stopbullyingspeakup.
A Thin Line is MTV’s campaign to stop the spread of digital abuse. www.athinline.org
The Trevor Project provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian,gay,bisexual,transgender,and questioning youth. Services include 24/7 phone counseling and online support as well as work in schools. www.thetrevorproject.org.
College guide for LGBT students, www.accreditedcolleges.com/resources/lgbt-college-guide/
United Communities of San Antonio (UCSA), It is the intent of UCSA to make available a means to help the dialogue that is indispensable to the multi-cultural learning process, to reach out, understand and respect the different cultural styles of our increasingly diverse community. Each program/workshop is tailored to meet the specific needs and goals of the participants and sponsoring organizations. www.ucofsa.org/