9 books for kids to read about bullying

By Cindy Hudson

When your child is bullied, you may feel as frustrated and powerless as they do, as well as unsure of how to help them address the abuse. And while anti-bullying campaigns have raised awareness at schools, teachers and other personnel often don’t know what to do either. The emotions that often arise from bullying – shame, fear, depression and low self-confidence – may keep you or child from even asking for help.

Shannon Hale, a best-selling author of multiple children’s books, says when her parents read Real Friends, her graphic memoir on her experience being bullied, they were surprised to know it happened. “When I was a kid I didn’t have the words to explain it,” she says. “I was neck deep in that reality and didn’t have enough perspective to be able to tell my own story to my parents or anyone else.” Reading books on bullying is a way to bring the topic up in conversation. Shannon says when she read her book to her own kids, “they were able to point to different parts and say, ‘I know how that feels’ or ‘that happened to me too.’ “ She believes kids need other people’s stories to process their own.

Books can also help your kids find ways to help themselves, even when the bullying can’t be stopped. Aija Mayrock wrote The Survival Guide to Bullying when she was still a teen and her experience was not only fresh in her mind, but also ongoing. She believes it’s important for kids who are being bullied to read about other kids who have endured the same struggle for one simple reason: To recognize they are not alone. “When I was being bullied, I felt like I was the only person in the world going through it. Obviously, I was so wrong. But it’s so easy to feel alone, misunderstood and alienated. Books about bullying not only encourage resilience and strength, but also a sense of comfort and understanding. The stories that I read (during the time I was bullied) helped me find the strength to persevere, no matter how difficult it got.”

But what if you suspect your child is a bully. Can books help them too? Frank Cottrell Boyce, author of The Astounding Broccoli Boy, says they can: “Most bullies are fearful themselves, or locked in patterns of behavior that they didn’t create themselves. They are kids who find it hard to admit their own fear and weakness.” He says his character Grim from his book is, in a way, “having a much worse time than Rory (the protagonist). I think if a bully read about Grim they would be delighted to find that there is a way out of being that character.”

Here is a list of books that address bullying. Use them to start a conversation or to educate yourself and your children about the many different forms bullying takes.

Ages 6 to 8

The Invisible Boy

by Tracy Ludwig

Nobody at school thinks to include Brian in their games, invites him to birthday parties, or sits with him at lunch. Even his teacher doesn’t seem to know he exists. Then a new boy arrives and Brian befriends him when others don’t.


by Kevin Henkes

Chrysanthemum loves her name until she starts school and the kids tease her for her long and unusual moniker. Her parents comfort her, and her teacher supports her, giving her the confidence to accept herself.

Ages 9 to 13

The Astounding Broccoli Boy

by Frank Cottrell Boyce

Rory Rooney and his bully both land in the isolation ward of a local hospital when their skin turns green. While alone together they discover unknown things about each other. This story gives voice to the bullied, the bullies, and those who are powerless to make themselves heard.

Real Friends

by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham

When Hale was bullied by her friends, she relied on her own ability to make up games and tell stories until she eventually found new friends who were happy with her as she was. This graphic memoir should encourage others who may feel like outcasts within a group.


by Edward Bloor

Paul Fisher, who wears thick glasses and struggles to remember the accident that left him legally blind, sees more than people believe. But it's not until he joins the soccer team and makes new friends that he uncovers the truth about his brother's bullying his family would rather ignore.


by Raina Telgemeier

Telgemeier lost two front teeth after an accident when she was 12. Painful treatment followed, as did bullying about her looks with headgear, false teeth, and more. She tells her story in a graphic memoir sure to resonate with anyone who has worn orthodontia.

Ages 14 and up

Everybody Sees the Ants

by A. S. King

Most people in Lucky Linderman's life turn a blind eye to his abuser because they don't know how to stop the bullying. Even his parents gave up after years of trying to help. When something dramatic happens, it puts him on a path to figure out how to help himself.

The Survival Guide to Bullying

by Aija Mayrock

Mayrock wrote this nonfiction book when she was a teenager, because she wanted to show other teens they weren't alone in what they were experiencing. Her first-hand account gives survival tips, advice for getting help, and more.


by Jerry Spinelli

When Stargirl transfers to Leo's school she becomes popular because she's different from everyone else. But soon enough those differences set her up as a target for bullies, and Leo has to decide whether he'll join in or remain her friend.