The best bullying books 📚

Browse the best books on bullying as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

Coming Fall 2022: The ability to sort this list by genre (signup here to follow our story as we build a better way to discover books).

Book cover of Starfish

Starfish

By Lisa Fipps

Why this book?

Starfish by Lisa Fipps has captured the hearts of many this year. Ellie is bullied by many for her weight, and it is heartbreaking to read but, through the help of a therapist and a new friend, Ellie learns to feel confident about herself and find her voice. Verse wise, the concept of what it means “to take up space” works as a theme in the narrative but also as a poetic concept.  

From the list:

The best middle grade verse novels published in 2021

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Book cover of Clues to the Universe

Clues to the Universe

By Christina Li

Why this book?

I finished this novel in a day, simply because of its incredible portrayal of emotion. Clues to the Universe follows Ro and Benji, two kids who couldn’t be more different. And yet, through circumstances of loss (and a class partnership), they find solace in a new friendship. Although it’s set firmly on the ground—based in the 1980s, on the heels of the Space Race—this book would appeal to the dreamers everywhere, the scientists and artists alike. Ro and Benji have a great dynamic, and while they lost their dads in very different ways, the grief is shared. A truly wonderful…

From the list:

The best middle grade books about loss

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

I Walk with Vanessa: A Story About a Simple Act of Kindness

By Kerascoët

Why this book?

Kindness multiplies. These words (from the endnotes) come to life in the stirring story portrayed in I Walk With Vanessa: A Story About a Simple Act of Kindness. The new girl in school is bullied, but another girl’s decision to walk her to school creates a community outpouring of empathy—and joy. The story itself has no words, but the illustrations offer many opportunities for discovery and discussion. One of my all-time favorites!

From the list:

The best children’s books that create a sense of belonging

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Book cover of Hello, Universe

Hello, Universe

By Erin Entrada Kelly, Isabel Roxas

Why this book?

Virgil is a quiet Filipino boy trapped in a well by the class bully. Helped by his friends – each with their own finely layered story – Virgil not only gets rescued, but also finds his inner voice. I loved the effortless diversity of the characters, which wasn’t the basis of the story, but truly enriched it.

From the list:

The best middle-grade books featuring Asian-American/Canadian kids by Asian-American/Canadian authors

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Book cover of Sugar and Spite

Sugar and Spite

By Gail D. Villanueva

Why this book?

Sugar and Spite has magic, strong friendships, and imperfect, yet relatable characters—all the things I enjoy in a novel. Not only did I enjoy learning about the many facets of the Filipino culture; I appreciated the layered messaging. Bullying is a difficult topic to tackle, and this novel addresses it in a way that caused me to think about the challenging people and difficult relationships in my life. This is such a sweet story dealing with issues I know readers can identify with—loss, jealousy, insecurities, and ultimately acceptance.

From the list:

The best spooky or magical books when you’re dealing with grief, loss, and fear

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Book cover of The Truth about Alice

The Truth about Alice

By Jennifer Mathieu

Why this book?

Jennifer Mathieu writes fearlessly; in this book, she exposes the real nature of slut-shaming and bullying, but more importantly, she reveals what it is to see a person as “other”; to reduce them to nothing more than words on a bathroom wall. I desire to build empathy for others through my writing, and The Truth about Alice holds up a mirror to those who denigrate others, in this case, Alice, for personal fulfillment.

From the list:

The best YA books about broken people

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