Literature is a great resource for teaching valuable principles to children, including how to cope with bullying. However, no analyses exist regarding the appropriateness of these books. Children's books were identified as potential stories for bibliotherapy with elementary school children who face bullying. Information presented in selected books was compared to the current research literature on bullying. Each book's content was analyzed according to important variables, including the type of bullying behavior, gender of the perpetrator and target, presence of bystanders, adult involvement, and resolution of the problem. Verbal bullying was most commonly observed, followed closely by physical bullying. The majority of bullies were male, though targets were equally likely to be male or female. Many stories included bystanders and adults, who responded most often by supporting the target. Of the multiple types of resolution, the most commonly observed were for the target to receive support from others or to develop self confidence or other personal coping skills. While much of the information presented was in accordance with the current research literature on bullying, some was not. For example, the books were accurate in portraying the majority of bullies as male, but less accurate with regard to the gender of targets—in reality, the majority of targets are also male. The books were also correct in showing that verbal bullying is more commonly observed than physical or relational bullying. The sample included bullying occurring frequently on the playground, which is in line with the research, but also very often in the classroom, which is not supported by the research to date. Overall, the portrayals of bullying situations in the sample were generally in accordance with what has been reported in the bullying research. All of the collected information was consolidated into three charts to help practitioners select bullying-themed books to read with children who struggle with this common problem.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Counseling Psychology and Special Education



Date Submitted


Document Type





bullying, relational aggression, bibliotherapy, children's literature, picture books