Books on bullying, courage and more
Books to Borrow...Books to Buy
Tuesday, September 24, 2013 11:00 AM
Everyone is aware that bullies exist, many have been the target of bullies, and of course, there are those who are the bullies. Kids in particular are constantly reminded of this situation with the "no tolerance" programs and frequent discussions in their school and beyond.
Among the other efforts being made to combat this problem, one solid avenue for exploring this issue is through reading excellent books that in one way or another address bullying. The strength of such books is that it gives readers/listeners an opportunity to develop compassion and empathy for the characters and ultimately apply that to their own lives.
The books reviewed below address bullying, courage and other related topics. Ask your local librarian and bookseller to direct you to others. A steady diet of these terrific books can make a huge impact, individually and collectively.
Books to Borrow
The following book is available at many public libraries.
"Stargirl" by Jerry Spinelli, Alfred A. Knopf, 186 pages
Read aloud: age 10 and older.
Read yourself: age 10 -11 and older.
When Stargirl arrives at Mica High School, the student body is buzzing with questions. Why does she dress the way she does? Why does she have a pet rat, carry a ukulele, and sing "Happy Birthday" to people in the cafeteria (and how does she know it's their birthday, anyway?). And although Stargirl is completely different from anyone they've ever met, the students begin to like her and are propelled into a new school spirit they've never experienced.
But soon Stargirl's nonconformity begins to grate on a few of the student's nerves, and shortly thereafter the whole school shuns Stargirl for everything that makes her unconventional. They also shun her once-popular boyfriend, Leo, and in Leo's panic to make things "right," he urges Stargirl to change, to become "normal." Then one day, Stargirl simply disappears.
A tense, emotional story about nonconformity, peer pressure, "popularity" and the thrill of first love, this outstanding story provides important lessons for adolescents on a variety of levels.
Library: Jefferson County Public Library, 420 West Main St., Madison
Library Director: Brent Stokesberry
Children's Librarian: Kara Pettey
Choices this week: "Mrs. McBloom, Clean Up Your Classroom!" by Kelly S. DiPucchio; "Alida's Song" by Gary Paulsen; "A Year Down Yonder" by Richard Peck
Books to Buy
The following books are available at favorite bookstores.
"Freak the Mighty" by Rodman Philbrick, Blue Sky Press/Scholastic, 2013, 202 pages, $16.99 hardcover
Read aloud: age 8 and older.
Read yourself: age 10 and older.
This 20th Anniversary Edition of the powerful novel Freak the Mighty is a "must-read." In addition to the original text there are 32 pages of new content including a Q&A with the author, letters between the author and a few of his fans, and further insight on the effect this widely acclaimed novel has had on readers over the last 20 years.
Maxwell Kane is huge for his age, and most people think he doesn't have much in the way of brains. His dull, friendless world changes the day tiny, physically disabled and brilliant Kevin (Freak) moves into the neighborhood. The two forge a friendship neither had ever had, and become Freak the Mighty, slaying dragons, outwitting bullies, finding courage in the face of adversity, and walking tall.
Strong, colorful characters, and laced with humor throughout, Freak the Mighty is a work of extraordinary depth, rich with multiple layers of what it is to be different, and what real friendship and courage really mean.
"Tug-of-War" written and illustrated by John Burningham, Candlewick, 2013, 32 pages, $16.99 hardcover
Read aloud: age 3 - 4 and older.
Read yourself: age 7 - 8.
Hippopotamus, Elephant and Hare live in the forest. Frequently, Hippopotamus and Elephant are really mean to Hare, calling him terrible names. One day Hare is fed up with their nasty business and decides to play a trick on the bullies.
In two private conversations, Hare challenges each animal to a tug-of-war contest with him. Hippopotamus and Elephant both laugh at Hare, each thinking that contest could only (and quickly) result in Hare loosing. Little did they know what clever scheme Hare was about to set in motion.
Delightful from start to finish (with an interesting twist on dealing with bullies), Tug of War will not disappoint.
Nationally syndicated, Kendal Rautzhan writes and lectures on children's literature. She can be reached at her website: www.greatestbooksforkids.com