Tying in with National Bullying Prevention Month, Random House Children’s Books and Harlequin Teen have rolled out major campaigns in support of two recent books that explore the theme of bullying.
Inspired by R.J. Palacio’s debut novel, Wonder, about a boy with a facial deformity who is confronted by bullies when he attends a mainstream school for the first time, Random House launched the Choose Kind online anti-bullying campaign this past spring. The site provides a forum for readers of all ages to share stories, access information, and take the Choose Kind Pledge to practice everyday acts of kindness. During the month of October, for every pledge made at ChooseKind.tumblr.com, Random House will donate $1 to PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center. A counting ticker on the site will track the October pledges.
Schools have been supporting Wonder since its February publication, and using it as a tool to promote kindness and prevent bullying. A “Teaching Wonder” guide by author and children’s advocate Trudy Ludwig has been added to the “resources” area of the Choose Kind site and is available at RHTeachersLibrarians.com. At a grassroots level, educators started a Twitter conversation under the hashtag #WONDERschools, so they could share ideas and resources as they teach the book.
On October 23, Palacio will take part in a Goodreads Featured Author Group with fellow author Jay Asher (Thirteen Reasons Why). Both authors will answer questions from each other and from fans about their books in the context of bullying. And on October 29, Palacio will read from Wonder and lead a discussion at an event hosted by Understanding Our Differences, an organization based in Newton, Mass., that provides school-based disability awareness programs.
Harlequin Teen has also been exploring the topic, and in September published Speechless by Hannah Harrington, in which a girl’s gossiping words become the catalyst for a hate crime. The publisher partnered with the Jed Foundation’s Love Is Louder movement on a new survey that suggests 70% of young women between the ages of 16 and 21 have been bullied; of those surveyed, 78% believe that bullying is a more serious problem than parents and adults realize.
Other key findings include:
- 58% of respondents ranked emotional bullying (spreading rumors, shunning/ignoring others) as the most hurtful form of bullying.
- 75% of those surveyed say they are bullied about some aspect of physical appearance: weight, clothing, hair, overall looks.
- 35% of teens turn to books and reading to cope with bullying.
The survey was conducted online during August and September with 1,504 young women (ages 16–21) responding. Harlequin Teen has included a discussion guide in Speechless with the aim of prompting conversation about bullying and the effect one’s words and actions can have. In addition, the publisher has teamed with Love Is Louder to create a book party guide to encourage teens to get together to discuss Speechless and use it as the jumping off point for positive action. The first five groups that sign up for a book party will each receive 10 free copies of Speechless.
Harlequin Teen will also be auctioning off copies of the book that have been signed by multiple celebrities, with all profits going to Love Is Louder.