I first became aware of the nonfiction essay collection called Dear Bully when I got an advance reader’s copy shortly before October, which was National Bullying Prevention Month. Reading this book made me think about how bullying affected my life when I was a kid and how much it influences the lives of the teens I see every day. Think about all the times that you ever bullied someone, how many times you were a victim, and how many times you watched it happen to someone else. Now think about the kids growing up today and how new technologies like social media and texting can spread insults and rumors like wildfire, increasing that humiliation and frustration even further. This is a book that teens, teachers, and parents should be reading, or at the very least they should know that it exists. Usually this is the point where I plug the author’s website, but since this is a collaborative effort by so many authors I’ll point you to the book’s website instead. There you can learn about the book and the authors, and also read new essays every week.
Ellen Hopkins. Carolyn Mackler. Lauren Oliver. Mo Willems. R.L. Stine. These are just a few of the people who contributed to this book, and they all have two things in common. The first thing they have in common is that they all grew up to be writers. The second thing they have in common is that they all have strong memories of bullies from when they were growing up. Some of these authors were bullies. Some of them were victims. And some of them were bystanders who stood back and watched what happened to other kids. But they didn’t say anything because THEY didn’t want to become the next targets.
All of the stories in this book are true. All of these stories were remembered by young people who grew up, and learned how to share their voices with the rest of the world. And each of these authors needed to share their stories with you. They wanted to tell you that even though they lived with depression, confusion, and anger, they struggled … but they survived.
And so can you.