Name calling does so much damage. It leads to hurt feelings, broken friendships, anger, and even war. The best way to address name calling is to develop our children's empathy for those who are the victim and provide them with great examples.
The following picture books contain empathetic characters and many examples of how to deal with name calling. Some are old classics and others are brand new. Although intended for young children, these books can be used with any age as a starting point for addressing name calling and bullying.
Written in 1945, this Newberry Honor book has stood the test of time and . When a new Polish girl arrives at school and wears the same dress everyday, she is made fun of and called names. The main character Maddie feels bad but says nothing. When the new girl moves away because of the name calling, Maddie is left with a life-long of regret that she had not stood up to her peers.
Steve is being called names by the class bully Gus. Steve's parents help him come up with a plan to deal with Gus and then have him practice carrying it out. The bully is in for a big surprise.
The book covers the strategies of avoidance, ignoring, staying with friends, using power words, not looking down or away, making short statements and not asking questions, being loud to attract attention, calling the bully by name, and getting help if needed.
This book won the Caldecott award in 1976. Set in rural Japan, it tells the story of a village boy who is made fun of by his classmates because he is terribly shy. It takes a wise teacher to show the other children how to appreciate and value difference and how to notice when someone is hurting. The message is powerful and as relevant to today's children as it was when it was written.
In this simple rhyming story, a giraffe wants to dance, but his legs are too wobbly and his neck too long to do the same dances the other animals do. The other animals tease him and call him names. But then Gerald finds the right music, and invents his own way of dancing, impressing them all.
Probably the worst thing one child can say to another is "I hate you." In fact, the expression is so cruel and hurtful that some librarians substitute the word angry or mad instead of hate when they read it aloud.
In this short 1969 picture book for preschool through second grade, a young girl thinks her friend hates her so she hates her back. When she finally asks her friend why she is being mean to her, she learns that there has been a simple misunderstanding. This is great book for introducing the idea that we need to ask people why they are doing the things they are instead of just imagining their motives.
In this tale from medieval Spain, the grand vizier's son is called names by the tax collector's son after he accidentally bumps into him. His father tells his son to make sure Hanza never calls him a name again. All the vizier's grand plans fail, but as they interact together they become friends. The story teaches that sometimes the best way to deal with an enemy is to befriend them and the point is made stronger by the fact that one boy is Muslim and the other Jewish.
In this simple story, a boy who enjoys reading and painting, tap dancing and playing with dolls is made fun of by his friends and by adults. But he doesn't let it get him down, instead he enters the local talents show and even though he doesn't win, his perseverance and accomplishment change the view of his friends and the adults.
This book is about what to do when you are teased and when others put you down. The main character is having a bad hair day that draws insults and name calling from his peers. His grandmother uses a parable about fish and hooks to teach him to deal with the hurtful words and name calling by using his own power - the power to control how he reacts.