Saturday, October 13, 2012

Bullying Resources with Pam, An Unconventional Librarian


Today I have one a very good friend and librarian here to share with us some helpful books on bullying. I am pleased that Pam, An Unconventional Librarian took time out of her busy schedule and visit with us. Enjoy!

Resources for Bullying by Pam Margolis, An Unconventional Librarian.


There seems to be another spike in the media about bullying and I thought I would take a moment to present some books on the subject. 

While bullying is a widespread problem, there are surprisingly few appropriate books available to children.  To be sure educators, parents, counselors, and therapists all want to stop bullying and should set up safe zones and guidelines to prevent and protect children before, during, and after bullying. 
But what of the child?  What if the child cannot speak to a trusted adult or has spoken and received no or not enough support? 
Let’s look at Jodee Blanco’s book, Please Stop Laughing at Me… which chronicles a young woman’s life long struggle, yes LIFE LONG, with bullying.  The bullying started when she was 10.  Here’s an excerpt from one of the many painful bullying episodes in high school.
“Blanco, you suck.”

“Don’t be nice to her. She’s gross. We hated her so much in junior high.”

“Too bad you weren’t a miscarriage.”

If I don’t find a way to stop them from publicly belittling me, their disdain will become contagious. I’ll carry the stigma of being the class misfit again. At first, I make an effort to reason with them. “Come on, you guys, we’re not in junior high anymore. Let’s start fresh.” 
“Fat chance,” they proclaim, rolling their eyes conspiratorially.

I know cruelty is currency in high school. It can buy power and popularity. My former classmates sense my desperation and amuse themselves by taking advantage of it. They need me. They’re just as scared as I am about making friends at Samuels. They have to prove to the in-crowd here that they’ve got what it takes. I’m their best hope. All they have to do is make everyone see me as the outcast. Then they can say to the popular group, “We have a mutual interest. None of us likes Jodee.” It confirms their social status. If I weren’t so furious about it, I’d laugh.


Ok, you say, so this is high school bullying where cruelty is currency and everyone is vying for power while they transform from child to adult.  How sad is it that we try to justify the bullying?  Very.  And fortunately, Blanco understands and has developed a companion website to Blanco’s book  that offers survival tips for students, parents, educators, and adult survivors. 
Blanco’s bullying started when she was 10.  What about resources for tween victims? 

I discovered a book, My Secret Bully by Trudy Ludwig, which I think is appropriate for tweens, age 8-11.  Ludwig, an acclaimed author works with anti bullying groups to help children cope with bullying.  My Secret Bully is a tale of young Monica who is bullied by her friend.  This sort of relational aggression is common, especially in women and girls (Imagine Mean Girls started out as Mean Tweens).  Katie’s bullying is not overt but in the form of taking Monica’s friends away from her or threatening to not play with Monica if Monica plays with Sarah.  Fortunately, Monica opens up to her mother and gets the empowerment she needs.
I stared at her straight in the eyes and said, “Katie, does it make you feel good to make me feel bad?  Because friends don’t do that to friends.”
She turned red in the face and looked away.  Right then, I knew Katie could no longer hurt me.
Don’t you love that the words Monica used were so simple but yet so powerful? 
I do.
You know what else I love about the book? The illustrations by Abigail Marble include children of various ethnic groups and abilities! My Secret Bully should be in every parent’s home. 



The last book I want to discuss is Leave Me Alone, A tale of what happens when you stand up to a bully” by Kes Gray and Lee Wildish.  This book is my least favorite of the three but I like it because it strives to empower even the littlest child.  “Leave me alone,” the child says to his animal friends who seek to help him.  He tells them that his troubles are too big for anyone to be able to help.  I’m sure children might often feel helpless and overwhelmed and I like the way the book expresses those feelings.
The child is not directly bullied by a person, but by a problem that is depicted as a giant bully blocking the sun.  The animals band together with the child to tell the bully to “Leave Him Alone!” which the bully does.  The child is happy again and knows the problem will never come back and bother him again.  This is the odd bit about the book but I love the discussion opportunities provided by the idea of empowering the child. 

And speaking of child empowerment, have you read Kelley Osborne Faust’s The Superpower of Me! Yet?  If not, check it out! The book, published by The Sunshine Hope Organization teaches children how to overcome obstacles in their lives and to believe in themselves. It’s the best book out there. EVER.  Tell Kelley you heard it from PammyPam. 
I would love to hear your comments about these or other bullying books.  Hit me up on Twitter if you’d like to continue the conversation there.
About Pam:




PammyPam has a Masters in Library and Information Science and is certified as a Library Media Specialist (K-12) and in Elementary Education (K-6). She has experience as an educator, researching, designing, and implementing curriculum materials. 
As a freelance writer, blogger, and social media consultant, she analyzes and coordinates online media outreach, develops and manages presence on popular social networking websites, tracks and monitors program success, writes book reviews, and curates children’s literature. She can also prepare marketing pieces and press releases. Samples of her work can be found at www.unconventionallibrarian.com her book review blog. 
--Pam
“and what is the use of a book,' thought Alice, 'without pictures or conversation?”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland