For Book People's Bedtime Story Competition in 2016 which supported of Action for Children, we received 1,000s of amazing entries from young storytellers from all over the country. One thing we learned, though, was that over two thirds of children expressed their worries about bullying, loneliness or being different.
We have picked out these classic stories and modern favourites which tackle the difficult subject of bullying; and we've asked the experts at Action for Children, for their take on the importance of reassuring books that show them that bullying is never okay and that they can get help to make it stop. Action for Children is a charity that does what's right, what works and what's needed for disadvantaged children, young people and families across the UK.
In this colourful picture book, duckbill dinosaurs are placid and gentle, while tyrannosauruses are mean and aggressive. So when a duckbill dinosaur hatches from an egg in a tyrannosaurus nest, confusion soon follows! The baby dinosaur is so out of place, his cruel big sisters call him Tyrannosaurus Drip. But when the little dinosaur has to save the day for his fellow duckbill dinosaurs, the tyrannosauruses get their comeuppance! This fun, rhyming story is a wonderful introduction to the concept of bullying and overcoming bullies.
Melissa Higgins | 5+
Jesse and the other animals at the bus stop make fun of Kelly the cat for her fluffy fur and plain clothes. This makes Kelly sad, but the little cat will find effective ways to overcome the bullying, such as talking to the principal. With stunning illustrations and a sweet, gentle story, this book tackles the topic of emotional bullying in a sensitive and illuminating way, showing children how to make it stop in safe ways.
Roald Dahl | 7+
Matilda Wormwood is super smart, a voracious reader, and has the amazing power to move objects with her mind! She's constantly picked on by her parents and her malicious headteacher, Miss Trunchbull - but she's an extraordinary girl who's sure to get her revenge. So her tactics may not be exactly recommended - they include supergluing her dad's hat to his head and causing her headteacher to faint with shock - but children who have to contend with bullies are sure to feel uplifted by this timeless tale.
Jacqueline Wilson | 9+
Mandy is a quiet girl who is picked on by three merciless tormenters: Melanie, Sarah and Kim. But Mandy can't believe her luck when she becomes friends with Tanya, the cool and quirky girl next door. Mandy's parents disapprove of Tanya, whom they deem a bad influence on their beloved daughter. Tanya and Mandy do end up in trouble - including some minor scrapes with the law - but is the trouble and risk worth the friendship and fun? This entertaining and memorable story is all about a daring friendship and overcoming bullies.
Judy Blume | 9+
Linda is left the joke of her class when she explains how whales hold a layer of blubber on their bodies in her school project. Her classmates make fun of Linda's weight while Jill watches from the sidelines, wanting to stand up for her but feeling too scared of having the ridicule turned on herself. Judy Blume deals with the themes of bullying and friendship in this moving read.
R. J. Palacio | 11+
At the heart of this funny and poignant book is 10-year-old August, a boy who was born with a severe facial disfigurement. He's about to start middle school after being home-schooled by his mother for years. August must deal with malicious bullies and childish cruelty, but will show a courageous attitude and a wonderful humour that will inspire those around him. This thought-provoking novel conveys the important message that what you look like doesn't matter; it's who you are and what you do that really count.
Carol Iddon, Managing Director of Operations at Action for Children
'Sadly, over 50% of children will be affected by bullying at some point during their time at school. The effects of bullying can involve damage to a child's confidence and self-esteem and it can even have a negative impact into adulthood.
It is important to have books that raise awareness of this issue and ensure that children do not feel like they are suffering alone. Action for Children encourages parents to talk to their children, especially if you suspect they are being bullied. Reading books together that explore bullying can be a great way to help a child express their worries.'