Children and teens have enormous power to promote positive change. The right book can help kids learn to treat others respectfully and to take a stand against cruelty and violence.
president and founder of Free Spirit Publishing
Minneapolis, MN (PRWEB) October 26, 2012
Free Spirit Publishing launches Bully Free Kids™, an innovative line of bullying books just for kids. The first books in the line are Weird! Dare! and Tough!, part of the Weird series written by Erin Frankel and illustrated by Paula Heaphy. The Weird series shows each role of the bullying relationship—the target, the bystander, and the child doing the bullying, as well as the caring adults who play a part in preventing bullying behavior.
Roxanne Davidson, a school counselor in Portland, Oregon and blogger at Books That Heal Kids, read the Weird series with her students. She said, “As a school counselor, I want to reach students at a deeper level when it comes to the serious issue of school bullying. My students were captivated by the stories of the three girls in the Weird books. It was obvious through our discussion their hearts and minds were very moved. Everyone has had a role or involvement in bullying and kids could see themselves in the books. This series is truly awesome and so impactful!” Free Spirit has contracted Frankel and Heaphy for a second series of bullying books, featuring boys as the main characters.
Publishing bullying resources is a natural fit for Free Spirit, as they’ve been publishing books since 1983 that “support young people’s social-emotional health and their educational needs.” Free Spirit’s founder and publisher, Judy Galbraith, said, “Although I strongly believe adults need to take charge to create homes, schools, and communities that are safe and caring, I also believe children and teens have enormous power to promote positive change. The right book can help kids learn to treat others respectfully and to take a stand against cruelty and violence. By offering contemporary and developmentally appropriate resources for kids who are bullied, for kids who are bystanders, and for the kids who do the bullying we empower them to want to make positive changes. Our books help kids to see how they benefit by learning about respect—for themselves and others—and how it’s in their best interests to resolve conflicts in ways that help, instead of hurt.”
Research proves that social and emotional learning (SEL) promotes young people’s academic success, health, and well-being at the same time that it prevents a variety of problems such as alcohol and drug use, violence, truancy, and bullying. Studies from CASEL (Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning) in Chicago show that SEL improves students’ social-emotional skills, attitudes about self and others, connection to school, and positive social behavior; reduces conduct problems and emotional distress; and can improve students’ achievement test scores by 11 percentile points.
Free Spirit has been publishing books on bullying since 1999, with the release of The Bully Free Classroom (revised editions released in 2005 and 2011), which was expanded into an entire line of Bully Free Classroom® products for teachers. In 2000, Free Spirit published the “original anti-bullying book for kids,” Hands Are Not for Hitting. Now with over 600,000 copies (paperback and board book) in print, Hands Are Not for Hitting was one of the first books to talk to young children directly about their role in choosing not to hurt others. Bullies Are a Pain in the Brain was yet another ground-breaking book directed to kids themselves. Other Free Spirit titles on bullying include Cool Down and Work Through Anger, Good-Bye Bully Machine, and Words Are Not for Hurting, which all include back matter with tips, activities, and discussion points for adults to reinforce the books’ messages and foster dialogue with children, at home and in the classroom.
Bullying isn’t a new problem, but the ways in which kids bully continue to change. When cyberbullying and sexting started becoming a problem, Free Spirit published Teen Cyberbullying Investigated, which took a unique approach in informing teens about legal consequences of cyberbullying. Current research on bullying shows that bystanders have the most power to put a stop to bullying, so Free Spirit has increased their focus on books that help kids recognize their role and feel empowered to create positive change by speaking up for themselves and others. Bystander Power, a nonfiction book for tweens to help them become “upstanders,” was added to the Laugh & Learn series this September.