________________ CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 24. . . .February 26, 2010


We Want You To Know: Kids Talk About Bullying.

Deborah Ellis.
Regina, SK: Coteau Books, 2010.
120 pp., hardcover, $21.95.
ISBN 978-1-55050-417-0.

Subject Heading:
Bullying-Juvenile literature.
Bullying in Schools -Juvenile literature .

Grades 4-9 / Ages 9-14.

Review by Amy Dawley.

*** /4



All this mostly started in grade five. The same kids would do it—just a couple of kids—over and over. Every week there would be something. They’d call me fat or stupid, or trip me as I walked by to go to the pencil sharpener. Once, someone cut a chunk out of my hair. I’ve out to throw out some of my clothes because they got ruined by bullies. I’ve had sharpened pencils jabbed into me. Over and over, these things went on.

All this happened in class, while the teacher was there. I told my teacher about it, and she said that if I had problems I should go and put a red pencil on her desk, like a secret signal I wanted to talk to her. It didn’t really work, though. She had a lot of other things to deal with. But I appreciate that she tried.

One day, the bullying was really bad, and I asked the teacher if I could go home early, before anything else bad happened. But she wouldn’t let me, so I had to go back to class. Some days, I want to go home even when bad things aren’t happening. I’m afraid bad things will start—it’s always on my mind. I’m always worried about it.

Deborah Ellis (author of the Breadwinner trilogy) has collected first person accounts from Canadian children and teens aged 9 to 19 about bullying. We Want You To Know is split into five thematic chapters that explore the reasoning—or lack of reasoning—the children felt they were bullied. The final chapter entitled “Redemption,” illustrates how bullied children have attempted to deal with and move on from the traumas they experienced at the hands of bullies.

     The personal stories of these bullied children are heartbreaking, inspiring, and made even more powerful because they are in the child’s own words. Each chapter has an introduction and conclusion, complete with themed discussion questions. At the end of each child’s personal account is a collection of discussion questions specific to that child’s experience, asking readers to reflect personally on what they read. The book also includes short thoughts on bullying from children who are from other countries, including Japan, Madagascar, and Uganda, illustrating that bullying happens everywhere.

     A wide variety of experiences are recorded both from boys and girls of all ages. Some names have been changed or omitted at the child’s request, but for those children who felt comfortable being identified in the book, a black and white photograph of the child accompanies each story. The book includes examples of bullying through both physical and mental abuse, as well as the experiences of several children who have been cyber-bullied. Also included—but to a lesser extent—are articles written from the perspective of children who have been bullies themselves, providing an insight into the opposite side of bullying. At the back of the book is a helpful list of further resources for kids, parents, and teachers as well as an index.

     We Want You To Know would provide an excellent starting off point for a discussion about bullying and the inclusion of discussion question supports that use. The one downside to this book is its picture book-style format which might suggest to some that it is meant for younger children. With a little coaxing and encouragement, children could be persuaded to pick up this book to read for themselves, but its strength lies in the stories and discussion its sharing will surely generate.


Amy Dawley is the teen librarian at the Prince George Public Library in Prince George, BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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