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September 19, 2014

Middle School Read-Aloud: The Bully Book

By Rhonda Stewart
Grades 3–5, 6–8

    Sahara Special, written by Esme Codell, has been my welcome back to school reading for the past few years. This book captures the essence of teaching to reach all learners. It’s a great book to have in your classroom library and my students love it. This summer, 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 was The Bully Book, a YA book by Eric Kahn Gale. 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 by the events that happen to him. It also gives insights into how the bully selects and harasses his victim.

     

     

     

    When I first started reading the book, it took me a moment to get it. 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. 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 that they would be reading would be more “grown up” than the books that they had been reading previously. I also reiterated that our school, especially in 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.

    Getting this book was no accident. Last year, Scholastic Book Clubs' Tab catalog ran a promotion around the book. As a bonus, I received bookmarks and a Book of the Month kit, full of activities to use in conjunction with the reading of the book. The activities can be modified for books that have the similar theme of bullying. And of course, I will share them with you!

     

    The Bully Book — Book of the Month Kit
     
     
     
    Discussion Guide
     
     
     
    Graph Activity
     
     
     
    The Anti-Book
     
     
     
    Compare and Contrast
     
     
     
    Take the Anti-Bullying Pledge
     
     
     
    Write Your Own Anti-Bullying Pledge
     
     
     
     
    Books With a Similar Topic
     
     
     

    Pearls of Wisdom — Check out the Scholastic Book Clubs. They offer great selections of books for students and teachers. Their dollar books are great buys.

    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! 

     

    Sahara Special, written by Esme Codell, has been my welcome back to school reading for the past few years. This book captures the essence of teaching to reach all learners. It’s a great book to have in your classroom library and my students love it. This summer, 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 was The Bully Book, a YA book by Eric Kahn Gale. 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 by the events that happen to him. It also gives insights into how the bully selects and harasses his victim.

     

     

     

    When I first started reading the book, it took me a moment to get it. 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. 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 that they would be reading would be more “grown up” than the books that they had been reading previously. I also reiterated that our school, especially in 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.

    Getting this book was no accident. Last year, Scholastic Book Clubs' Tab catalog ran a promotion around the book. As a bonus, I received bookmarks and a Book of the Month kit, full of activities to use in conjunction with the reading of the book. The activities can be modified for books that have the similar theme of bullying. And of course, I will share them with you!

     

    The Bully Book — Book of the Month Kit
     
     
     
    Discussion Guide
     
     
     
    Graph Activity
     
     
     
    The Anti-Book
     
     
     
    Compare and Contrast
     
     
     
    Take the Anti-Bullying Pledge
     
     
     
    Write Your Own Anti-Bullying Pledge
     
     
     
     
    Books With a Similar Topic
     
     
     

    Pearls of Wisdom — Check out the Scholastic Book Clubs. They offer great selections of books for students and teachers. Their dollar books are great buys.

    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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