Short Stories About Bullying From 70 Young Adult Authors

The book is called Dear Bully, and it’s a compilation of essays, poems, and short stories about bullying from 70 young adult book authors. Some of them were the bullied, some the bullies, and some the bystanders who saw the bullying happen.

This book was important for me to read. I was bullied but I was also a bully. I was a perpetrator and a victim. And I also was one of those who stood on the sidelines, more often than not, watching as friends and acquaintances mercilessly picked on a student deemed “to different” from us. And doing nothing about it.

This book will have something to resonate with someone.

Dear Bully...There are a lot of contributors (70 authors!) so there will be something that someone can relate to. R.L. Stine talks about being the “funny guy”. Sophie Jordan, in the voice of a popular girl, writes a eulogy for a kid who committed suicide because of bullying. Nancy Garden intersperses researched facts about bullying with memories from her past. These authors are just like us: they were bullied because being themselves is too different for other people. Some of them were the bullies, and are now filled with remorse and wisdom that comes with age. Some of them were bystanders who either did nothing, or did something and in the process saved a life.

A lot of these stories really struck me. I found myself nodding at almost every written down thought, emotion, and memory from these writers. It made me think back to the time I was a bully and was bullied, and I think I came out a bit more insightful, thoughtful, and kind after reading Dear Bully.

If there was one complaint I have about the book, though, it’s that since there are so many contributing authors, almost every essay, poem, or story felt too short. I sometimes felt that some of them cut off abruptly, or that I wanted to read more but the story already ended.

Still, it’s overall a great book. I wish more people would pick this up and read it, because far more than the small technicality I mentioned above is the underlying message: that bullying is wrong, it is not a rite of passage, and everyone should speak up when they see it happen.

Putting a face to the bullies, the bullied, and the bystanders

Short stories about bullying

Everything in this anthology is based on real-life situations, from young adult book authors that some or most of us know. I think what this book is most successful at doing is giving a face to these people in the form of the authors, and making those feelings and emotions about bullying more accessible and relatable. It also keeps us alert. It says: hey, this is my experience with bullying, and these things happened and are still happening. It’s not something that should be ignored.

There’s a lot of wisdom in the pages of this book. I read through everything, even (and especially) Ellen Hopkins’ introduction. Because after all, the introduction holds the underlying reason why this anthology exists in the first place! This line in it is just one of the lines that I love (and have highlighted on my Kindle, haha!):

[But] the human animal has a brain capable of compassion.

It’s what separates us from animals, from “survival of the fittest,” which some people think bullying is all about. It’s not. And throughout the book the theme of kindness and compassion is ever-present, reminding us to listen to our humanity, which sometimes is the hardest thing to do.

I also like that there is, overall, little to no victim-blaming in this anthology. Also important to note that although the bullies are also given their own spotlight in the book, they are all notably regretful of their actions. In no way do they condone their actions of the past, no matter their reasons for doing so.

Because bullying is never okay.

Jo Knowles in her short, true-to-life story “Kicking Stones at the Sun” puts it excellently:

We can’t do this anymore. We can’t pretend that words are just words. We can’t say kids will be kids. We can’t dismiss cruelty as a rite of passage. We can’t be onlookers. We can’t say “I didn’t have anything to do with it.” We can’t teach our kids to not step forward and say “Stop.” And “No.” We have to say it. We have to shout it.

And although this book is written by YA authors, everyone needs to read this book, no matter your age. I recommend this book to anyone who’s ever bullied, been bullied, or seen someone else being bullied. I believe that the more people read about and talk about the subject of bullying, the more we can raise awareness and take action on it. Bullying shouldn’t be something whispered along corridors or kept as a deep, dark secret. It should be recognized for what it is, and our protests should be loud and unwavering. Because that’s the only way the world will take notice and change.

My rating: (4 / 5)

Hope for tomorrow

Dear Bully also has their own website, where you can share anything you want about bullying, including but not limited to stories, photos, and advice. You can also read stories from YA authors or editors that aren’t included in the book. Visit them here.

You can also purchase Dear Bully on Amazon.

Do you have stories about bullying that you’d like to share? What progresses have you seen in your school or country regarding anti-bullying rules or laws?

12 Comments on Short Stories About Bullying From 70 YA Authors

  1. Neil
    September 1, 2016 at 4:47 pm (1 year ago)

    I remember being bullied for a long time during my school days 🙁 It wasn’t nice but I learned to stand up for myself and because of it, it’s made me the strong person I am today. 🙂

    However, the Dear Bully book sounds like a great read and iit would be fantastic to learn about bullying from different perspectives because it will definitely help bully victims to better deal with it. From what you say, this book is certainly a powerful resource well worth buying and reading.

    Thanks.
    Neil

    Reply
    • Chiqui
      September 2, 2016 at 3:55 pm (1 year ago)

      I’m very sorry for hearing that you’ve been bullied; I don’t think anyone deserves to go through that. I’m glad you found the courage to stand up for yourself, though!

      I’m glad you think that Dear Bully will be helpful for bully victims! I agree that it’s really worth buying and reading, it really reminded me to take a stand, for one!

      Thank you for taking the time to comment on my review. 🙂

      Reply
  2. Jeremy
    September 1, 2016 at 5:33 pm (1 year ago)

    This sheds some interesting light on a serious subject. I think the quote at the end by Jo Knowles says it best. We can’t just keep sweeping it under the rug. Sometimes things need to be said out loud regarding bullying. I’m definitely putting this book on my to-read list!

    Reply
    • Chiqui
      September 2, 2016 at 3:53 pm (1 year ago)

      Thank you, I’m glad you think so! We definitely should talk even more about bullying and stand up to those who have been bullied. It’s not just something that happens in school, after all; most bullies carry on into college, the workplace, even relationships. I hope you enjoy the book when you get to read it!

      Reply
  3. Cat Pillar
    September 1, 2016 at 6:20 pm (1 year ago)

    I agree with you, bullying should not be a matter of kids are cruel, bullying is a rite of passage etc and we need to teach our children that bullying another is not okay and will never be acceptable but. There’s always a but isn’t there? How does someone learn that wrong without experiencing the pain caused by bullying and/or being bullied? Especially a child who is still growing into his or her emotions? Don’t we learn not to bully – by being on the receiving end of it?

    Being bullied teaches one not to hurt others – being the bully teaches one guilt.
    Aren’t both of those part of the process of growing up and the best parents can try to do is help mitigate the hurt?

    “You feel bad so don’t do it again.”
    “You feel bad so don’t do it to others.”

    (But the out and out physical bully – the kid who kicks and beats the smaller kid just because he can and no-one will stop him? … There’s a special biblical verse just for him.)

    Reply
    • Chiqui
      September 2, 2016 at 3:51 pm (1 year ago)

      That’s an interesting point to raise; it kind of reminds me of something similar I heard a while back (I wish I could remember the philosopher!), about allowing controversial, even sometimes obviously dangerous opinions, to be spoken and talked about because it’s only through discourse that we learn why we believe the way we do, and essentially what gives us our humanity.

      So I guess you essentially raise the question: Does bullying need to exist so that people will know that it’s wrong? After all, I wouldn’t be even writing this review, much less picking up Dear Bully, if I haven’t been bullied myself.

      However, I believe that we are in a time where discourse against bullying is already happening and we are more open, talking about it, as opposed to like 10-20 years ago. So while bullying already exists, we are at an era where it is no longer necessary for one to undergo it. Listening to stories from older people (like the stories in Dear Bully!) and engaging in discourse should be enough to teach children what they need to know. So that if they’re the unfortunate victims of bullying, or if they see someone who can’t stand up for themselves, then they will know what to do.

      Essentially, people need more empathy, in general. Bullying is only one of the results of a lack of empathy. If bullying is diminished, I believe that we have learned a little bit more on what it really means to empathize with someone. So no, bullying is not supposed to be part of the process of growing up: learning what love, empathy, and understanding is.

      (And see, physical wounds heal easily though, don’t they? It’s the emotional wounds that are harder to fix, and most people end up carrying them even way past middle and high school. Should we risk another bullying-related suicide or school shooting just for others to be taught not to hurt or to feel guilt?)

      Reply
  4. Sunewako
    September 1, 2016 at 6:45 pm (1 year ago)

    Hello,
    I like this, You came out with a very important issue that has been a big problem. Many people have been a victim of this problem. I agree with you that bullying has never been okay and will never be. We both have to stand and fight this one way or the other. Many students have been dropped out of school , fail their exams because of being bullied.

    I will love to have this book for my kids.
    Thank you for the information.

    Reply
    • Chiqui
      September 2, 2016 at 3:24 pm (1 year ago)

      Thanks I’m glad you think so! Giving your kids this book is a good step to making them aware of and giving them the courage to stand up against bullying, I think. You’re welcome, thanks for dropping by. 🙂

      Reply
  5. Christian
    September 2, 2016 at 7:31 pm (1 year ago)

    Bullying is an ugly facet of our society, and it plagues our children within our communities. The thing is, bullying really tends to come out of nowhere. And it doesn’t have to be the reality for our kids.

    This book is a nice introduction to the thought process of bullies and or those who have been bullied, or have experienced the effects of bullying. I would definitely recommend that those with school aged children check it out.

    Reply
    • Chiqui
      September 3, 2016 at 3:13 am (1 year ago)

      Hi, thanks for dropping by! I agree that while it does happen, it shouldn’t be the reality for people, which is why spreading awareness and actively protesting bullying should be constant. 🙂

      Reply
  6. James Kelly
    September 3, 2016 at 8:11 am (1 year ago)

    Thank you Chiqui for this great book review on bullying. This is a subject that is far too frequent in schools and as a parent I had to see my son’s school headmaster when he was younger to complain about the way he was being bullied. These days the nature of bullying has changed from physical to verbal thanks to Social Media, mobile phones etc where both children and adults get bullied verbally often by ‘unknown’ cowards which can cause immense distress and sometimes suicide by people on the receiving end.

    Reply
    • Chiqui
      September 3, 2016 at 8:18 am (1 year ago)

      Hi James! I’m very sorry to hear about your son being bullied but I hope he’s on the road to recovery now! You also raise a very good point; cyber bullying has become more frequent and it’s sad when the news reports about a kid who’s committed suicide because of cyber bullying. It’s also harder to control, since you don’t even know who’s on the opposite end due to anonymity, like you said. It’s unfortunate, which is why I really do think we should teach our kids (and each other!) about kindness and compassion. I do hope that people continue to speak up for it so that the world can become a better place overall.

      Reply

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