Trudy’s List is Here! Books to Help Girls Deal with Bullying & Toxic Friendships

By | May 3rd, 2010 | 15 comments

By Trudy Ludwig

No matter where you turn for news coverage—the Internet, TV, radio, or newsprint—you cannot escape the horrific headlines of girls viciously bullying their peers, the results of which can be deadly. We all know how prevalent aggression is in middle school and high school, but let’s not forget that it’s also evident as early as preschool.

By educating girls on the harmful effects of aggression and what can be done about it, we can make major headway in reducing bullying in their social world.

Part of that education process, as I mentioned in my previous guest blog, includes the use of literature as a supplemental tool to help foster empathy and perspective. The more empathy and compassion our girls feel for their peers, the less room there is in their hearts for contempt and disregard for others’ feelings.

Reading books out loud to a young girl or sharing a book with an older reader is a natural starting point—one which most of us do already. Another great option is to join or start your own mother-daughter book club. These clubs provide a supportive social network for addressing the negative peer pressure and media influences our girls face on a daily basis. Equally important, they also offer the perfect venue for planting those empathy seeds so that they can take root and grow.

Below are some of my favorite books to share with the girls in your life. To help you in your selection process, visit for a brief description and reader reviews. For ready-made lesson plans or discussion questions, visit the author’s or publisher’s website or do a Google search by entering the name of the book, followed by the words “lesson plans.”

Please preview the books to determine appropriateness in terms of content and reading level for your particular reader.

Have You Filled A Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud
Hey Little Ant by Phillip and Hannah Hoose
How to Lose All Your Friends by Nancy Carlson
One by Kathryn Otoshi
Our Friendship Rules by Peggy Moss and Dee Dee Tardif
The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss
Something Else by Kathryn Cave
Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon by Patti Lovell
Stop Picking on Me by Pat Thomas
The Little Bit Scary People by Emily Jenkins
Words Are Not For Hurting by Elizabeth Verdick

A Smart Girl’s Guide to Friendship Troubles by Patti Kelley Criswell
Blubber by Judy Blume
Cliques, Phonies, & Other Baloney by Trevor Romain
Confessions of a Former Bully by Trudy Ludwig (available in August 2010)
Drita My Homegirl by Jenny Lombard
Hot Issues, Cool Choices: Facing Bullies, Peer Pressure, Popularity and Putdowns by Sandra McLeod Humphrey
The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes
My Secret Bully by Trudy Ludwig
Sahara Special by Esmé Raji Codell
Say Something by Peggy Moss
Simon’s Hook: A Story About Teases and Put-downs by Karen Gedig Burnett
Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco
Too Perfect by Trudy Ludwig
Trouble Talk by Trudy Ludwig
Vive La Paris by Esmé Raji Codell

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Boys, Girls and Other Hazardous Materials by Rosalind Wiseman
Charlie’s Story by Maeve Friel
Drowning Ana by Sue Mayfield
Odd Girl Speaks Out by Rachel Simmons
Ophelia Speaks: Adolescent Girls Write About Their Search For Self by Sara Shandler
Queen of the Toilet Bowl by Frieda Wishinsky
The Skin I’m In by Sharon Flake
Star Girl by Jerry Spinelli
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood
19 Minutes by Jodi Picoult
Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher

Trudy Ludwig is a children’s advocate and best-selling author of children’s books that help kids cope and thrive in their social world. Her newest release, Confessions of a Former Bully, will be available in August 2010. For more information, visit Trudy’s website or friend her on Facebook.

15 Responses to “Trudy’s List is Here! Books to Help Girls Deal with Bullying & Toxic Friendships”

  • […] Author Trudy Ludwig’s shortlist (by age) on Rachel Simmons’ blog […]

  • trudy Ludwig says:

    I’ve got to add a comment to my own blog. For a more extensive list of recommended books, CJ Bott’s “More Bullies In More Books” is a great resource for educators, parents, and counseling professionals. The book covers more than 350 (Yes–350!) annotated titles–from picture books to high school books–dealing with bullying. It’s available on Amazon. She even includes topics for discussion with recommended books.

  • […] 2. Books are a great springboard to start a discussion. For a list of books that focus on friendship fundamentals, click here. […]

  • Kathy says:

    The friendships can start out so innocently … I mean, many of us never considered a best-friend club to be damaging.

    Until your daughter is the one excluded from the club. That’s when they turn toxic.

    That’s why it’s so important to have these discussions early. Thanks, Trudy, for the great list of materials. I’m going to share them.

  • Mary Naman says:

    Hi Trudy,

    I kept thinking about the book “Charlie’s Story” with the recent death of the young Irish girl in MA.
    Hope all is well with you and your family.

    Mary Naman

  • […] for health, studies show the childhood obesity epidemic has little to do… 2 Tweets Trudy’s List is Here! Books to Help Girls Deal with Bullying & Toxic Friendships « … 2 Tweets D.C. Council launching campaign against childhood obesity The D.C. […]

  • Peggy says:

    Trudy, thanks for this great list. I am honored to see my books be a part of it. I think one of the most valuable aspects of using books to discuss bullying and teasing is that it takes the heat off of kids who aren’t ready to talk about their own situations directly.
    We can talk about how a character feels and why she makes the choices she does without fessing up that we ARE that character some days at school. Although This is as true for older readers as for younger ones. I’ve found kids can really dig into discussions about teasing, difference and the sense of security (or lack of it) that schools sometimes indavertently create after reading Harry Potter, for example. Books can provide kids an an opportunity to rethink what constitutes courage in relationships.
    For teachers interested in great materials and a broad range of age- appropriate activities to address bullying I’d recommend the (free) ADL “Words that Heal” curricular materials (which includes the Revealers for high school readers, by Doug Wilhelm:

    • trudy Ludwig says:

      Peggy- A delight to connect with you via this blog. And yes-I agree with you about the ADL resource. In fact, I posted a hot link to the ADL on my last guest blog. Over the years, children’s literature has taken on a powerful role in helping to instill critical thinking skills in young readers. Good literature, says Hazel Rochman, “…has the power to break down borders.” Amen to that!

  • […] Author Trudy Ludwig’s shortlist (by age) on Rachel Simmons’ blog […]

  • Thx for this list Trudy, I’m adding/cross-checking it with my Shaping Youth post, “Using Kid Lit to Read the Right Message About Bullying,” (when Rachel and I were interviewed on this topic via Chicago Trib)

    Also found this exhaustive links list (by age)on children/bullying here:

    And this site/link:

    All the more reason to appreciate the filtered finds of Trudy’s list as we’re all drowning in ‘tmi’ 😉

  • Thanks Trudy! This list comes at a perfect time. I want to start a mother/daughter book club in my area and this will be very helpful. Thanks for all that you do!

  • Great article, great recommendations!
    I agree that it’s all about increasing empathy which is why I use role-playing a lot when I do school visits, so that the students can “feel” the same situation from the perspective of the bully, the bully’s victim, and the bystander. I also always emphasize the role of the bystander who can frequently stop or facilitate the bullying situation. Thanks for doing all you’re doing to help our kids through your wonderful books!

    • trudy Ludwig says:

      Sandra-thank you for bringing up the important role bystanders play in a bullying incident. They have the power to be heroes and it’s up to adults to educate them on how they can do it in ways that don’t subject them to the risk of counter aggression.

  • trudy Ludwig says:

    My pleasure. There are many books out there to generate great discussions with girls. I just had to limit my list so that I didn’t overwhelm folks 🙂

  • Michelle says:

    Thanks, Trudy! I am always looking for new books to use and I see a couple on this list that I don’t have. I am also very interested in this idea of a Mother/Daughter book club, both personally and professionally. This could be a GREAT way to have conversations to teach girls as well as open the eyes of some mothers. 🙂 You are a gem!

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