#SOL15: Day 6, The Bully Book

He sits on his knees, leaning on his forearms. His body is draped over the desk.  Three other boys surround him, reading.

S, N, A, and P love video games, graphic novels, and recess. They have a hard time settling in a classroom. Historically, they’ve needed shorter books and lots of teacher support.

After recess, they are totally engaged in this book:


Here’s an excerpt:

I’m an observer. I see what works and what doesn’t. Why does a joke sound funny coming from one kid but seem stupid when someone else says it? Why do some kids eat alone while others are rolling in friends? These are the questions I’ve been  thinking about.

This mystery, based on Eric Kahn Gale’s elementary school experiences, has grabbed my students. It names what they deal with every day. These boys are expert in bullying.  They’ve been on both sides: the bully and the bullied. This story speaks to them.

S, N, A and P don’t sit together. They’ve been known to argue and bully each another. But the gravitational pull of this book has sucked them in. It’s as if sitting together intensifies their experience.

I’m fascinated, and wonder — How are they internalizing this?

I heard one of them in the midst of reading say, “This is M!” They are connecting, but do they see themselves?

At the very least, this is a book they want to read. They love it without me helping them love it. They love it all by themselves. That is huge.

They plan to talk tomorrow.

I can’t wait.


Thanks to Anna, Beth, Betsy, Dana, Stacey and Tara of Two Writing Teachers blog for hosting the Slice of Life March Story Challenge.  Read other slices here.








21 thoughts on “#SOL15: Day 6, The Bully Book

  1. How lucky to have discovered a book that speaks to all of them at once! I often wish I could go back to my school years as a teacher, or at least as an adult, so I could see the interactions among my peers through adult eyes.

    • I know! I wish I could do the same. Unfortunately bullying and being bullied does seem like a right of passage for some. We are lucky to have so many stories for kids that help them sort through the troubles of being young.

  2. Making connections while reading without anyone pointing you to those connections; isn’t this what we as teachers want to see happen in our classrooms? Thank you for sharing this book and your observations.

  3. The best question, Julieanne: “But do they see themselves?” That’s the most challenging I think. I’m reading another graphic novel now, Tomboy. You should check it out for your class, too. It’s wonderful that books like this are being written! Thanks for this one!

  4. This is one discussion where you want to be the fly on the wall. What a scene you create with your words! Could this be “The Book” that changes them as readers? Wow!

  5. I love watching students dive into a book, wondering if they will see it as a window or mirror. And which do they find more compelling? I would love to see some interview work around this. ~ Jen

  6. Finding a new book that students can love is the best! Especially the boys! One series that girls and boys (ESPECIALLY the boys) like in my third grade class is the “My Weird School” series by Dan Gutman. Thanks for the recommendation!

  7. Sounds like a book I will have to check out. We’ve had a lot of bullying of late – the kind that the bullies don’t think of as bullying. The atmosphere created in your room sounds like the one I had when I read “Okay for Now” by Gary Schmidt. Excellent read.

    • Thanks for the recommendation. I fear they see themselves as the one being bullied, but not necessarily the bully. That is a really difficult pill to swallow. I do think our conversation matters around it. Just the discussing of bullying as a group is powerful when it comes from them.

  8. My students are feeling that way about Wonder. They can’t believe how bad the bully is, but I wonder…how would they respond in a similar situation. I hope they are asking themselves the same question.

  9. I teach fifth grade. We are starting book clubs the week after next. I have a few boys of mine for this book. Two of the boys read above grade level. However, two of the boys I think would love this book are not even close to reading a level V book. One is on a levelR and the other a level N (unmotivated reader, low decoding skills, but can be engaged during read alouds of high level books). In book clubs kids need to read a certain # of pages at home. I could ask the N mom to read it the pages at home with her son. What do you think? I know the topic would be great for both.

    • My guys are on average are new to level U. Because of the subject matter they are completely engaged. I’ve tried it with kiddos around S-T level and it has been too difficult for them. They were motivated and interested, but couldn’t hang, so they abandoned it. I believe in letting them try. See where it goes. Consider reading it aloud with them to support their start.

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