Beat bullying with books.
Bullying is never an easy topic to discuss with your students. They see and hear words like ‘bully free zone’ or ‘zero tolerance towards bullying’ but may not understand what bullying looks like.
A way to introduce a topic such as bullying is through literature. Use fiction books with fictional characters to create opportunities to talk about real bullying issues.
During the discussion of events in fictional books can give you an opportunity to discuss real problems that may be happening in the school or better still, to avoid bullying issues from arising.
In these lessons, bullying issues are discussed using fiction book activities to cover Literature outcomes. Civics and Citizenship outcomes are covered using real bullying issues which can come from students or teachers.
These lessons are tagged Years 4-6, although can be used in any teaching situation from Prep-Year 10.
Books which deal with bullying
When dealing with a topic like bullying it is best to use a variety of books which solve the bullying issue in different ways. There are no two children alike therefore there will be no two incidents which are alike. It is good to give children a range of resources and thoughts to help them better understand bullying behaviour, rather than using a one approach fits all.
The following three books are all from Australian Authors, each one covers the idea of bullying in different ways and are at different reading levels.
Book Blurb – Picture Story Book
Darth has been captured and taken away from his family – perhaps forever.
He enters the new world with a splash, but meets eye to eye with Grunt, the
leader of a gang.
Will Darth ever make friends in the new fish kingdom?
Can he truly be happy again?
Swallow me NOW! by Melissa Gjisbers.
Book Blurb – Chapter Book
All Sam wants to do is to fit in at her new school.
Feeling alone, and desperately trying to find her place in the world, she concocts an AMAZING story –
BUT it backfires on her, and she becomes known as the ‘Evil Genius’s Daughter!’
Can her life get any worse?
Book Blurb – Chapter Book
Eleven year old Brian is hiding something. His life is falling apart. Dad abandoned the family. Brian hates his new school. And now an aggressive bully attacks him every day.
Can Brian STOP the Bully without revealing his shameful secret?
Knowing whether a child has been bullied in your class, especially if it is the beginning of the year, is difficult. You can be prepared by having a poster displaying what support is available if students need to talk to someone. Please also remember that bullying not only affects children but also adults and if you have assistants or parent helpers in the room to be aware of their thoughts throughout the topic. If you are sending any of the above books home with the intention of discussing bullying during school hours a note or phone call to parents would be best to ensure the child is not alone if they have issues with bullying either in the past or present.
Support Services in Australia
Australian Curriculum and lesson activities
All three books in the resource section all deal with the main character (whether fish, boy or girl) in a new environment. When reading books students make connections between the books storylines and real life. A helpful activity is to present the information in a Venn Diagram.
Each group could choose a different book and an event in the book. On one circle write what happened in the book, in the other circle write what they think would happen in real life. In the middle the actions which are the same.
Choose a scene in the book. Display the section on an interactive whiteboard and read aloud to your class. Ask students to rewrite the scene from a different view point. Either from the, bully’s viewpoint, victim’s viewpoint, parent’s viewpoint, teacher’s viewpoint, friends of the bully’s viewpoint or friends of the victim’s viewpoint. Children can choose which viewpoint they want to write about and read aloud/discuss at the end. There is no right or wrong answer as it is the student’s point of view.
Curriculum Outcomes – English
Year 4 Make connections between the ways different authors may represent similar storylines, ideas and relationships (ACELT1602)
Year 6 Analyse and evaluate similarities and differences in texts on similar topics, themes or plots (ACELT1614)
Using the Picture Story book of Darth as an example, ask students to create a fictional story using animals as the characters and bullying as a theme. Students can either do individual stories to make into a class book, picture story book, creative writing piece or beginning of their own chapter book.
Curriculum Outcomes – English
Create a box in the classroom which is in a place that students can write questions, thoughts, issues, regarding bullying. You may like to ask the class to think of a name for the box, The Anonymous Box, Top Secret Box or Problems Post Box. Place the box in a spot where students can post letters without being seen by others. Discuss with students what they can post, they may be bullied in the yard, have no friends to play with, or not know how to deal with a situation whether it is at home or in the school grounds.
There are several ways that solutions to letters can be answered.
Daily or weekly you may read aloud letters and have a group discussion of answers.
Students can work in groups to develop solutions to the issue, and then present these solutions to the class.
Groups may work on the same issue or have different issues to attempt to solve.
*An important point is never to name students as bullies and read and re-write letters before handing them to students to ensure anonymity.
Curriculum Outcomes – Civics and Citizenship
Year 4 Work in groups to identify issues, possible solutions and a plan for action (ACHCS019)
Year 5 Work in groups to identify issues and develop possible solutions and a plan for action using decision making processes (ACHCS032)
Year 6 Work in groups to identify issues and develop possible solutions and a plan for action using decision making processes (ACHCS032)
After discussing the variety of roles in the fictional books work out what roles senior students could have in the school. What actions should senior school students have towards bullying behaviours in the school grounds? Draw a picture of a great role model of a senior student displaying anti-bullying behaviours.
Some assessment tools you may like to use:
Students have increased ethical understanding
Bullying issues decrease or don’t exist through teacher observation
Pre and post checklist of student behaviours
Observation during class/group discussions
Survey students (some surveys need School Council or parental approval)
Resources – Although any fiction books on bullying can be used, if you decide to use the ones listed in the resources, here is a link to their Amazon pages.
Swallow Me, NOW by Melissa Gjsibers
Darth by Julieann Wallace
Stop the bully by Karen Tyrell