The best children’s picture books that address bullying

The Books I Picked & Why

I Walk with Vanessa: A Picture Book Story about a Simple Act of Kindness

By Kerascoët

Book cover of I Walk with Vanessa: A Picture Book Story about a Simple Act of Kindness

Why this book?

What I love about this wordless story is how the illustrator team Kerascoët powerfully shows how bystanders of bullying incidents can become upstanders. It all starts with one little girl who, after seeing Vanessa get bullied by a boy, feels bad and wants to help her. That one upstander’s actions end up inspiring an entire community to support Vanessa. 


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One

By Kathryn Otoshi

Book cover of One

Why this book?

One, by author-illustrator Kathryn Otoshi, is one of my favorite bullying prevention picture books. Why? The story brilliantly shows young readers through color characters and numbers how each of us “counts” when it comes to being an upstander in bullying situations. This is a popular book used by teachers in elementary classrooms.


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Hey Little Ant

By Phillip Hoose, Hannah Hoose, Debbie Tilley

Book cover of Hey Little Ant

Why this book?

When a boy tells a little ant that he intends to squish him, the ant offers great reasons why he shouldn’t be squished. The story ends with a cliffhanger: Will the boy squish the ant? Will he let the ant go free? The authors brilliantly leave the ending up to the reader. Hey, Little Ant is a wonderful story that promotes perspective-taking, empathy, and acceptance in young readers.


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Be Kind

By Pat Zietlow Miller, Jen Hill

Book cover of Be Kind

Why this book?

There’s a reason why this little jewel became a NYT bestseller: Be Kind is such a thoughtful story that models for young readers what it means to be kind. It shows various scenarios, including standing up for someone who is being bullied. The reader’s takeaway is that our words and acts of kindness have the potential to spread far and wide in positive ways.


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Each Kindness

By Jacqueline Woodson, E.B. Lewis

Book cover of Each Kindness

Why this book?

Each Kindness, for me, is a modern take of the Eleanor Estes classic children’s story, The Hundred Dresses. In Each Kindness, a new girl comes to school, and no one--especially the protagonist Chloe--makes any effort to befriend her. Instead, Chloe and her friends actively snub her. Chloe learns an important lesson about “…each kindness--done and not done.” This story can generate thoughtful conversations in the classroom and at home.


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