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September 19, 2014

Middle School Read-Aloud: The Bully Book

By Rhonda Stewart
Grades 3–5, 6–8

    A few summers ago, I promised myself that I would read more young adult books to keep up with what my students are reading. One of the titles on my summer reading list that year was The Bully Book, by Eric Kahn Gale, a YA book with a timeless and timely message. After reading it, I knew that it would be a great book for group discussion, so I decided to bring it in to class as a read-aloud. This is the story of a sixth grade student who becomes the victim of bullies. One of the bullies happens to be a former best friend. The book is told from the perspective of the victim and describes the events that happen to him. It also gives insights into how the bully selects and harasses his victim.

     

    At first glance, it appears that the author is giving a recipe or a guidebook on how to become a bully. I realized that this was not the case. The story is told in the first person and it truly feels as if the main character, Eric, is having a conversation with the reader. First, “Eric” describes the bully’s methodical and systematic harassment. He lays the groundwork for what’s about to happen to him. Then in the form of a journal entry, “Eric” gives the reader a front row seat of what actually occurs. As I was reading this book, it not only made me think of the students at my school, but also made me reminisce about my school days.

    To set the tone for this read-aloud, I had a very honest and real conversation with my class. We talked about bullying that they have either witnessed or been the victim of. We talked about strategies to help out the victim. We discussed why we thought people became bullies. Having a sense that they were ready, I revealed the book. I informed them that because of their reading levels, the books we would explore this year would be more "grown up" than what they were used to reading in school. I also reiterated that our school, including (and especially) our classroom, was a NO BULLY ZONE. They were safe. By this time, they were anxious for me to begin reading. So, every day, we get to hear about Eric’s struggle. My students express such empathy for him. This reaffirms to me that even older kids still love, and are benefitted by, read-alouds.

    Pearls of Wisdom — Check out the Scholastic Teacher Store for more books on bullying. They offer great selections of books for students and teachers.

    As always, do you have any tips to share on putting a stop to bullying that are successful in your class or school? If so, please share! 

     

    A few summers ago, I promised myself that I would read more young adult books to keep up with what my students are reading. One of the titles on my summer reading list that year was The Bully Book, by Eric Kahn Gale, a YA book with a timeless and timely message. After reading it, I knew that it would be a great book for group discussion, so I decided to bring it in to class as a read-aloud. This is the story of a sixth grade student who becomes the victim of bullies. One of the bullies happens to be a former best friend. The book is told from the perspective of the victim and describes the events that happen to him. It also gives insights into how the bully selects and harasses his victim.

     

    At first glance, it appears that the author is giving a recipe or a guidebook on how to become a bully. I realized that this was not the case. The story is told in the first person and it truly feels as if the main character, Eric, is having a conversation with the reader. First, “Eric” describes the bully’s methodical and systematic harassment. He lays the groundwork for what’s about to happen to him. Then in the form of a journal entry, “Eric” gives the reader a front row seat of what actually occurs. As I was reading this book, it not only made me think of the students at my school, but also made me reminisce about my school days.

    To set the tone for this read-aloud, I had a very honest and real conversation with my class. We talked about bullying that they have either witnessed or been the victim of. We talked about strategies to help out the victim. We discussed why we thought people became bullies. Having a sense that they were ready, I revealed the book. I informed them that because of their reading levels, the books we would explore this year would be more "grown up" than what they were used to reading in school. I also reiterated that our school, including (and especially) our classroom, was a NO BULLY ZONE. They were safe. By this time, they were anxious for me to begin reading. So, every day, we get to hear about Eric’s struggle. My students express such empathy for him. This reaffirms to me that even older kids still love, and are benefitted by, read-alouds.

    Pearls of Wisdom — Check out the Scholastic Teacher Store for more books on bullying. They offer great selections of books for students and teachers.

    As always, do you have any tips to share on putting a stop to bullying that are successful in your class or school? If so, please share! 

     

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