I’ve Got Your Back: Help Children Say Hello to Friends & Goodbye to Bullies, co-authored by Staci Schwartz and Lorna Blumen, is designed for parents, caregivers and/or teachers and children (aged 5–10) to read together. With engaging original stories, and practical activities, this book will help children develop self-esteem, empathy, and respect for themselves and others. Young children will learn strategies to protect themselves from social cruelty and to deal with bullying when it occurs.
Below is a wonderful activity from I’ve Got Your Back: Help Children Say Hello to Friends & Goodbye to Bullies.
Activity: Recognizing & Choosing Positive Friendships
Read children’s books with themes about friendship, empathy, respect, and bullying prevention. Don’t be afraid to pick short books with simple stories, even for older children. Choose from this list of our favorite children’s books, or find your own books about these important topics:
- The Best Friends Book by Todd Parr (Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 2000).
- Billy the Baaadly Behaving Bully Goat by Staci Schwartz (ComteQ Publishing, 2012).
- Chester’s Way by Kevin Henkes (Greenwillow Books, 1988).
- Feelings by Aliki (Greenwillow Books, 1986).
- Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel (Harper Collins, 2003).
- How to Be a Friend: A Guide to Making Friends and Keeping Them by Laurie Krasny Brown and Marc Brown (Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 2001).
- The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes (HMH Books for Young Readers, 2004).
- The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2013).
- The New Bear on the Block by Staci Schwartz (ComteQ Publishing, 2006).
- The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss (Random House, 1961).
- Stand in My Shoes: Kids Learning About Empathy by Bob Sornson (Love and Logic Press, 2013).
- Toot & Puddle: You Are My Sunshine by Holly Hobbie (Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 2010).
- Yo! Yes? by Chris Raschka (Scholastic, 2007).
Parents: Read any of these books with your child.
Teachers & Classes: Create groups of 3–4 students and assign one book to each group. Make sure there’s at least one capable reader in the group. This activity provides a perfect opportunity to bring older children to your classroom as “book buddies,” to read to the younger students.
Parents & Teachers: Discuss and evaluate the story’s friendships and relationships. Here are some ideas:
- Discuss each character in the story. Which characters are good friends? Why? Are any of the characters not acting like good friends? Why?
- Ask your child or students to make a list of five things that make someone a good friend. How do good friends make you feel? What would you do if a friend hurt your feelings? What do the faces of friends look like when they are playing or talking? How do they talk to one another? Do good friends have to like all the same things? Do they ever fight? If they do, how do they solve the problem?
- If one of the books has a character who acts like a bully, ask your child or students to identify the bad or mean behavior. How do the other characters handle the situation? Do they stick up for the target and act like upstanders, or do they say nothing or encourage the bully by being bystanders?
- Discuss the bullying behavior of the characters. Take turns guessing why that character might be behaving that way. Remind your child or students not to be mean to, or exclude, bullies. Everyone deserves to be treated with kindness and respect, even while they are working to change their behavior. Don’t bully the bully—it’s easier for someone to change when they feel accepted. Ask your child or students what they would do if someone acting like a bully picked on them. What would they do if they saw one of their friends being picked on?
- Ask your child or students what they would do if someone acting like a bully picked on them. What would they do if they saw one of their friends being picked on?
In the future, as you read other books with your child or class, take some time to focus on the feelings of the characters. How does the action of the story make the characters feel? How does it make the reader feel? Learn to identify the characters’ facial expressions and emotions from illustrations to enhance emotional knowledge and empathy.
About Staci Schwartz:
Staci Schwartz, MD is a physician, children’s book author, and bullying prevention education consultant. For the past 15 years, she has performed interactive readings of her books and bullying prevention workshops in public, private, and parochial elementary schools, religious institutions, libraries, and after-school programs in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. She has also worked with educators and has co-facilitated workshops such as “Teaching Tolerance in The Classroom” and “Using Children’s Literature to Prevent Bullying and Promote Empathy.”
Learn more at stacischwartz.com
About Lorna Blumen
Lorna Blumen MS, MBA is a children’s and adult workplace bullying prevention specialist. She is the author of five books, including Bullying Epidemic: Not Just Child’s Play and Girls’ Respect Groups: No More Mean Girls! She has appeared on Canadian and US television and radio and spoken at numerous international conferences.
Check out their website I’ve Got Your Back: IGYBbook.com