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Colleen Nelson's Anti-Bullying Booklist

Book Cover Finding Hope

Canada's Bullying Awareness Week runs November 15-21, this year with the theme, "Stand Up to Bullying." The focus of Bullying Awareness Week is not about influencing the actions of others, but rather about understanding what we as individuals and community members can do to address the problem of bullying. And one thing that parents, teachers and librarians can do is make the following books, selected by award-winning YA author Colleen Nelson, available to the young people in their lives.

These are stories that can empower readers to "stand up to bullying" once and for all. 

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Books about bullying are plentiful. Authors know that bullies make complex characters and if the plot involves a triumph over a bully, so much the better. The shift in power, the underdog standing up to his aggressor, makes readers want to stand up a cheer. But for many children and teens, there is no cheering section. Bullied children feel alone and trapped, unable to speak out. Bullying can be overt and aggressive or subtle and manipulative; on-line or in-person. It happens under the noses of parents and teachers and can have disastrous consequences. Books with an anti-bullying message have an impact. They show young people that there are ways out of bad situations, giving them the confidence to stand up to their bully and have their voice heard.

The Hidden Agenda of Sigrid Sugden, by Jill MacLean

A member of the Shrikes, a group of three bullies in her Maritime hometown, Sigrid is feared by her classmates. Flipping the usual narrative, the reader follows Sigrid as she tries to make amends for her actions. Maclean’s characters are fully and powerfully written, each with a story as unique as the mournful Maritime setting.

Book Cover The Silent Summer of Kyle McGinley

The Silent Summer of Kyle McGinley, by Jan Andrews

Bullying takes many forms, including being abused by a parent. Kyle McGinley has decided to stop speaking, holding all his pain inside, when he arrives at his new foster family’s home. Through a willingness to let Kyle heal on his own terms, his new foster family helps Kyle to face his demons.

Some Girls Are, by Courtney Summer

Summer’s writing style make her stories real, fast-paced and memorable. She cuts to the quick in the story of Regina Afterton. After her best friends turn on her, Regina takes a hard look at who she has become. It’s not a bad-girl-gone-good story, but a story of redemption and the desire we all feel to be part of something, even when it’s a bad something.

Book Cover We Are All Made of Molecules

We are All Made of Molecules, by Susan Nielsen

Stewart, or Spewart as he is called by his new pseudo step-sister, has just moved in with his dad’s girlfriend. Her daughter, Ashley, a popular, vapid-type is embarrassed and keeps the new living arrangement a secret from her friends. She goes out of her way to hurt Stewart’s feelings. Nielsen writes with her usual humour, switching the narration between the two main characters. The depiction of Ashley as the Queen Bee and a pivotal scene involving a party, underage drinking and a cell phone camera are scenes every teen age girl should read as cautionary tale.

Book Cover The Cat at the Wall

The Cat at the Wall, by Deborah Ellis

Creatively told, Ellis spins the story of Clare, a bully who has been reincarnated as a cat in the Middle East. Caught in a siege at a young boy’s house, she takes stock of her life as a human when she is given a second chance at doing the right thing. While it might sound like an odd premise, Ellis uses flashback to great effect with her well-developed main character and gives the reader a thought-provoking story.

Nix Minus One, by Jill MacLean

Nix is an introvert and finding a place to fit in is hard for him. He finds solace in his father’s woodworking shop, and caring for a neighbor’s dog. When a sudden and tragic accident turns his life upside down, he realizes that he can’t hide in the shadows any longer. Nix stands up to bullies at school and the owner of Twig, the abused dog he is determined to save.

Book Cover The Fall

The Fall, by Colleen Nelson

Grieving is difficult at any age, but being a teenager makes the situation even harder. Ben, Cory, Taz and Luke just want to have a good time, but when one dies in a tragic accident, the rest of them have to figure out how to pick up the pieces. Taz escapes from his abusive father through alcohol and Cory uses his power at school to blame Ben for their friend’s death. When the school turns against him, Ben has to find the strength to face his bully and prove his innocence.

Forever Julia, by Jodi Carmichael

Julia has faced a lot of sadness in her life, but the one bright spot is her boyfriend, Jeremy. Ignoring the warnings from her best friend, she excuses his controlling nature as passionate. Things spiral to a dark place as Jeremy’s demands on her turn vicious and she confuses his bullying behavior with love.

Finding Hope, by Colleen Nelson (Coming this spring!) 

Hope is thrilled to escape her small town when she is accepted to Ravenhurst, a private boarding school for girls. She gets a boyfriend, a cool roommate and finally feels like she fits in. But things unravel when her brother shows up at the school gates, desperate for help, and her new friends turn on her after compromising photos are circulated online. Finding Hope shows the devastating consequences of cyberbullying and how it can alter a person’s life forever.

Colleen Nelson is an award-winning writer and teacher in Winnipeg. Although she was lured by the bright lights of Japan and New York City, she returned to the Prairies where she and her husband are raising their two sons. Finding Hope is her fourth YA book.

November 16, 2015

Books mentioned in this post

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The Hidden Agenda of Sigrid Sugden

by Jill MacLean
edition: Paperback
also available: eBook
  • age: 10 to 18
  • Grade: 5 to 12
tagged: bullying, values & virtues, parents

A new novel in the award-winning Travis Keating/Prinny Murphy series.

Sigrid Sugden is a Shrike, a member of one of the toughest group of girls in school. They are experts at blackmail, extortion and bullying their terrorized classmates.

But one day, the Shrikes go too far. Sigrid realizes that their favourite victim, Prinny Murphy, is in real dange …

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The Silent Summer of Kyle McGinley

125 Years of the World's Biggest Bonspiel

by Jan Andrews
edition: Paperback
tagged: emotions & feelings

When no one listens, what's the point of talking? Kyle McGinley doesn't say a word. Fed up with being shuttled from one foster care home to another, he has stopped speaking. But at the home of Scott and Jill Wardman, with the help of a crow, and a swamp, and an excess of blank paint, he begins to think that maybe, just maybe, life could be better. …

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We Are All Made of Molecules

by Susin Nielsen
edition: Hardcover
also available: Paperback
  • age: 12 to 18
  • Grade: 7 to 12
tagged: bullying, blended families, general (see also headings under family)

Thirteen-year-old Stewart Inkster is academically brilliant but "ungifted" socially. Fourteen-year-old Ashley Anderson is the undisputed "It" girl of grade nine, but her marks stink. Their worlds are about to collide when Stewart and his dad move in with Ashley and her mom. "The Brady Bunch" it isn't. Stewart is trying to be 89.9% happy about it, …

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The Cat at the Wall

by Deborah Ellis
edition: Paperback
also available: Hardcover eBook
  • age: 9 to 12
  • Grade: 4 to 7
tagged: cats, middle east, values & virtues

A remarkable and thought-provoking new novel set on Israel’s West Bank, by the author of The Breadwinner.

On Israel’s West Bank, a cat sneaks into a small Palestinian house that has just been commandeered by two Israeli soldiers. The house seems empty, until the cat realizes that a little boy is hiding beneath the floorboards.

Should she help him …

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The Cat at the Wall

by Deborah Ellis
edition: Paperback
  • age: 9 to 12
  • Grade: 4 to 7
tagged: cats, middle east, values & virtues

A remarkable and thought-provoking new novel set on Israel’s West Bank, by the author of The Breadwinner.

On Israel’s West Bank, a cat sneaks into a small Palestinian house that has just been commandeered by two Israeli soldiers. The house seems empty, until the cat realizes that a little boy is hiding beneath the floorboards.

Should she help him …

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Nix Minus One

by Jill MacLean
edition: Hardcover
also available: Paperback
  • age: 12 to 15
  • Grade: 7 to 11
tagged: siblings, self-esteem & self-reliance, death & dying

An exquisite middle-grade novel by the award-winning Jill MacLean

Fifteen-year-old Nix Humbolt doesn't talk much. He's barely outgrown his "Fatty Humbolt" days, and although he is taller and leaner now, he has learned it is best to keep a low profile. He dreams about his only friend's girl, but of course she is hopelessly out of his league. Lonely …

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The Fall

An Illustrated History of Motion Picture Theaters in Manitoba

by Colleen Nelson
edition: Paperback
tagged: death & dying

Before Luke came into his life, all Ben cared about was skateboarding, and whether his father would ever remember that he was alive. Then there was Luke, and it felt like he was being carried along on some sort of wave. But then Luke died, and everyone at school thinks it's his fault. Maybe it is. The Fall charts the lives of three boys as they dea …

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Forever Julia

Ghost Stories from the Heart of the Continent

by Jodi Carmichael
edition: Paperback
also available: eBook
  • age: 13 to 18
  • Grade: 8 to 12
tagged: sexual abuse)

Six months ago, Julia's life was perfect. Then her dad died. Now she lives with her grieving mother and sick grandmother in a puny apartment above their bookstore. After a dark bout of depression, Julia is fragile, and mourns both her father and her old life. But she has one thing to be happy about: Jeremy, the most popular boy at school, has chose …

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Finding Hope

by Colleen Nelson
edition: eBook
also available: Paperback
  • age: 12 to 15
  • Grade: 7 to 10
tagged: siblings, drugs, alcohol, substance abuse, friendship

2016 VOYA Top Shelf Fiction Selection
CCBC’s Best Books for Kids & Teens (Fall 2016) — Starred Selection

Hope leaves her small town for a fresh start, but her plans are derailed by an online romance and the appearance of her brother.

Hope lives in a small town with nothing to do and nowhere to go. With a drug addict for a brother, she focuses on …

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