I have very early memories of kids teasing one another at my elementary school. They were mean, really mean, as early as third grade. And while I didn’t do the teasing myself, I have seared memories of the times when I stood there, a bystander, watching the teasing happening. Kathryn Otoshi, author of One, and an advocate who works with the Welcoming Schools program, also has many memories of when she was a young child, being a bystander as her classmates relentlessly teased a little girl in her class. Now, as a parent, I get teary eyed just thinking about my own children one day being teased, or worse, bullying another child. A couple of weeks ago, I attended an amazing program to showcase the Welcoming Schools initiative at an elementary school here in DC. I was thoroughly impressed with the curriculum, and encourage anyone to look into bringing this to your own child’s school as way to build a culture of inclusion and kindness, in the classroom and beyond. Especially beyond…in the school bus, the hallways, the stairwells, and the places where kids are not under direct adult supervision.
October is Bullying Awareness Month, and as such, we’ll be adding to the national discussion around this important issue. To start, we’d like to offer up book recommendations for every age that address bullying and teasing. These books were selected by our Zoobean curators, all parents who are also educators or librarians. We hope they prove to be a useful resource for your kids. Like all of you, we feel strongly that reading about teasing and unkindness is so important with kids of all ages. By talking about these stories, and weaving the lessons into our ongoing conversations, we build compassion in our children. It is my hope that by doing this, I will inspire in my own kids the strength to always choose kind, and when they see teasing going on, take a stand and be the leader who helps to stop it.