A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Dear Bully was conceived by Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones; the two author/editors started a Facebook page in response to the suicide of bullied high school student Phoebe Prince in South Hadley, Mass. Hall and Jones invited other young-adult and children's authors to write and post their own childhood memories of bullying. Seventy of the writers who responded appear in the Dear Bully book, ranging from picture book writer/illustrator Mo Willems to Goosebumps creator R.L. Stine to Generation Dead author Daniel Waters. This group of writers grew up before cyberbullying was invented, so their experiences involve bullying in general -- especially at school. However, the writers often touch briefly on the topic of online bullying, and Waters in particular explains how characters in his Generation Dead series were inspired by cruel behavior he observed on YouTube, where a bully would let others know about a violent act that he or she planned to commit -- such as knocking down a child coming off of a school bus -- then record the event and post it online. The real experiences described in Dear Bully are often violent and always upsetting, but they offer the reassuring message that so many people understand how bullied teens feel.
What's the story?
In DEAR BULLY, 70 children's and young-adult authors recall their own childhood memories and stories about bullying. The many short pieces in the book are divided thematically into sections, beginning with "Dear Bully," in which several writers address remarks directly to the person(s) who bullied them. "Just Kidding" looks at humor as a mask for bullying and as a method of self-preservation. Other sections include "Survival," "Regret," "Thank You, Friends," "Insight," "Speak," "Write It," and last, "It Gets Better." Dear Bully acknowledges the common experience of bullying victims, reassuring teens that they are not alone.
Is it any good?
There are so many heartbreaking, real stories in Dear Bully that almost any teen will find something relatable in the book. Interwoven among the many short prose writings are occasional poems and graphic pieces. The individual stories, and the book as a whole, are generally well crafted and compelling, and there's a surprising amount of variety. Dear Bully is a very readable book about an important, upsetting topic.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the fact that everyone has a role to play if a child is being bullied. (Get tips on how to stand up to cyberbullies.)
Ask your kids if they have ever been bullied at school or online. Let them know that bullying is not acceptable in any form, and children don't have to endure it. Make sure they know that they can talk to you about bullying, and you will protect them from harm.
If your children have never been bullied, find out if they have observed school bullying or cyberbullying. Ask how they would hope classmates and adults would act if they knew someone was being bullied. Let them know that they can ask for help negotiating a bullying problem, even if they are not the victims.
You might also suggest that your kids share Dear Bully with their friends to open lines of communication between students.
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