Talking to Kids About Bullying: Where to Start

Research shows that reading is a great way to teach kids empathy and other forms of social and emotional intelligence.

Guest post by Holly Burdorff, Special Assistant to the COO, TASC, and Phoebe Westwood, Program Coordinator for Literacy, TASC.

Educators from across the city recently convened in our Manhattan headquarters for our fourth Peer Conference of the year, which focused on bullying in the classroom, outside the classroom and on the web. The event occurred on the heels of the Clementi-Ravi court decision and in the midst of a nationwide anti-bullying movement.

A number of us TASCers have literary backgrounds and thereby like to hustle our bookish agendas wherever we go, so this week we’re offering up some suggestions for books and other media that parents and educators can use to engage children in conversations about bullying.

It’s always good to start by looking for other lists:

>  Holly’s favorite list: “Thick-skinned, Thin-skinned, The Skin I’m In: Books about Bullying, Teasing, Relational Aggression and School Violence.” Compiled by Tessa Michaelson for the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Education, the list is divided by grade level and also by perspective (meaning, whether the book focuses on the perspective of the bullying target, aggressor or observer).

>  Phoebe’s favorite list: The Anti-Defamation League’s “Annotated Bibliography of Children’s Fiction on Bullying” and its supplement, “Using Children’s Literature to Increase Empathy and Help Students Cope With Bullying.”

What should adults be doing and reading? While much of the discourse surrounding the national anti-bullying movement focuses on ways to deal with the experience of being bullied, it’s equally important to impress upon children the importance of not bullying. Underlining this is the fact that many states across the U.S. are reforming and stepping up the enforcement of bullying laws. Be sure to learn your state’s laws and your school district’s policies.

Last, research shows that reading is a great way to teach kids empathy and other forms of social and emotional intelligence—if that’s true, then the act of learning to read is a path away from bullying. Try to expose children to literature about other cultures, traditions, and ways of living–that’ll ensure the biggest bang for your buck (or library card).

Stay tuned: Later this week, we’ll bring you our favorite books and media that can you can use to start conversations with kids about bullying.

One thought on “Talking to Kids About Bullying: Where to Start

  1. Pingback: Top 10 Books (and Media) About Bullying | The ExpandED Exchange

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