|Bullying is a hot topic in schools, but have you ever taken the time to consider both sides of this subject? In this issue our guests, book giveaways, and writing activity focus on bullying and also promote discussion about how and why people become bullies. |
As always, we hope that this newsletter is an aid in your classroom- no matter how big or small that class is. And if you like it, we hope you'll share it with other educators and media specialists.
My first memory of being bullied stems from kindergarten. I'd recently mastered standing in the center of the merry-go-round without using hands. A sixth-grade girl pushed me aside, saying that my feat was "a cinch," as she stood, hands on hips, in my place. I'm sure that saucy sixth-grader never thought of herself as a bully, but she sent this shy girl back into her shell and the memory still stings. As I aged, I was an easy target for bullies because I had buckteeth - big time. I hid my "Bugs Bunny" smile behind my hand until braces in eighth grade boosted my self-esteem.
When I was crafting Todd, I hoped to portray a character who tried as hard as I had to fit in. Middle school can be brutal, especially for kids who are already worried that they are "uncool." They can even be tempted, like Todd, to do some bullying of their own to be accepted.
These are the five B's of Bullying I share with students:
1. Never, ever BE a bully (not even at home!)
2. BAND together. There is strength in numbers and we need each other.
3. Bullies have BACKGROUNDS. People bully for a reason, and we need to remember that.
4. BE yourself! YOU are the coolest person you know. Don't let someone else's hurtful words change that wonderful you!
5. The BRAVEST thing you can often do is to get adult help when you're bullied. (It doesn't make for good fiction, but that's what Todd should have done in the beginning.)
Louise Galveston lives in the mid-west. When she is not writing, she directs children's theater and dabbles in watercolor. For more on Louise, visit her website and blog.
by Alexis O’Neill,
illustrated by Laura Huliska-Beith.
Scholastic Inc./Scholastic Press.
for more delightful illustrations.
The text reads:
"Say WHAT?" Mean Jean growled.
"Say WHO?" Mean Jean howled.
"Say You!" Just who do you think you're talking to?
Mean Jean always got her way
UNTIL one day...
Text copyright © 2002 by Alexis O’Neil,
illustration copyright © 2002 by Laura Huliska-Beith.
Used with permission.
|by Carol Baldwin |
Most of us love hating the bad guy in a movie or book. But if we find out that behind the antagonist's bullying is a history of abuse from his father, he's afraid of being seen as weak, or she's worried about the popular kids not liking her, then suddenly our attitudes toward the character changes. We begin to have sympathy for that character, which is what makes them real and their stories compelling.
Ask your students to brainstorm a character using this Create a Character Sheet. Next, have them consider the following questions:
1. What does the character do in order to get his way?
2. What does he do if he doesn't get his way?
3. What has been the hardest part of his life so far?
4. What do people make fun of him for?
5. If he could change something about himself, what would it be?
Ask your students to write several descriptive paragraphs using the information they have just gathered. This bully could be thinking about himself, interacting with another character in dialogue, or acting in a way that shows these attitudes and beliefs about himself.
As time remains, have students share their writing with a partner or small group. Have them consider what they learned about bullying.
A Teen's Take on Three Books
|by Hannah Davis|
THE TOTAL TRAGEDY OF A GIRL NAMED HAMLET
by Erin Dionne
After many years of battling the stigma that comes with her first name Hamlet Kennedy, an eighth grader at Howard Hoffer Middle School, is ready to be a normal kid for once. She's not asking to be the most popular girl in school. She's not even asking that her longtime crush talk to her; she's just asking to be accepted. The only flaw in this plan? Her genius of a younger sister, Desdemona, will be taking some classes with her at Hoff, and that's just asking for trouble. Will Hamlet be able to fight off the persistent bullies and make it to class on time? Find out in The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet.
THIRTEEN REASONS WHY
by Jay Asher
Clay Jensen arrives home from school to find a strange package on his front step addressed to him specifically. Upon opening the small box he finds seven cassette tapes and when he listens to them he realizes they are all from his classmate (and crush) Hannah, who had recently ended her own life. She explains that on each tape she’ll reveal the thirteen reasons why she did it and why she holds a number of people responsible. A heart wrenching and brutally accurate depiction of how high school can be for some unfortunate teens, Thirteen Reasons Why will leave you stunned and in awe with every turn of the page.
DON'T LAUGH AT ME
by Steve Seskin
Don't Laugh At Me is an amazing book with an amazing message that strikes chords in children young and old. Taking you through the school life of children such as a girl with braces, a boy with glasses, and a wheelchair-bound child, the text eventually unites them in the sentence “Don't laugh at me.” Empowering and encouraging others in a way that fits both modern situations and godly lessons, this book is sure to win your love.
|We, at TALKING STORY, have decided to focus largely on writing. We'll share from our personal writing & publishing experiences and feature a guest author and also an illustrator in each issue. |
Please let us know what interests you and how we can be helpful to you or your students.
Send us an
and we'll enter your name to win one of the three books below.
Each will intrigue a young reader in your life.
If you have a book preference, please mention that. We try to honor requests.
(Or better yet, enter right now!)
by Joyce Moyer Hostetter
Louise Galveston, our guest author, notes that bullies have backgrounds. In AIM, the prequel to BLUE, my character discovers just that! Read more about AIM and bullies at my blog.
Congratulations to our winners from our November issue.
|Monica O'Quinn won A Handful of Stars|
Melody Shore won Tea Cakes for Tosh
Mary Jo Floyd won Mare's War.
- Louise Galveston for being our featured author
- Laura Huliska-Beith for her illustration.
- Hannah Davis for introducing books
- Joanne Hunsberger for proofreading.
We love to hear from our readers!
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We're also both available for school visits.