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Thick-skinned, Thin-skinned, The Skin I’m In: Books about Bullying, Teasing, Relational Aggression and School Violence

©2024, 2008 Cooperative Children's Book Center

Compiled by Tessa Michaelson, Megan Schliesman, and Merri Lindgren

This selective bibliography offers titles that authentically address the issues of bullying, teasing, relational aggression, and school violence. The books on this list provide perspectives from the standpoint of being a target, aggressor, observer, or all three. The titles chosen here reflect themes of conformity, self-perception, and popularity in addition to stories related to school culture and tolerance. While some books describe the difficulties of being different, others emphasize the positives. From books depicting the heartache of gossip and social invisibility to books portraying the struggle of feeling comfortable into one’s own skin, these titles will have relevance and resonance with readers.

The titles are grouped according the suggested age range as well as by the main perspective the book offers (being the target, being the aggressor, being the observer, multiple perspectives). A section on difference is also included for each age range.

PreK-Grade 3

Being Different

Ali, S. K. and Ibtihaj Muhammad. The Proudest Blue. Illustrated by Hatem Aly. Little, Brown, 2019. 32 pages. Ages 4-8

Baldacchino, Christine. Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress. Illustrated by Isabelle Malenfant. Groundwood, 2014. 32 pages. Ages 3-8

Boelts, Maribeth. Those Shoes. Illustrated by Noah Z. Jones. Candlewick, 2007. 32 pages. Ages 5-8

Cocca-Leffler, Maryann. Jack's Talent. Illustrated by Maryann Cocca-Leffler. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2007. 32 pages. Ages 5-7

Felder, Molly. Henry the Boy. Illustrated by Nate Christopherson and Tara Sweeney. Penny Candy, 2019. 36 pages. Ages 5-7

hooks, bell. skin again. Illustrated by Chris Raschka. Hyperion, 2004. 32 pages. Ages 5-10

Lilly, Elizabeth. Geraldine. Illustrated by Elizabeth Lilly. Neal Porter Books/Roaring Brook, 2018. 32 pages. Ages 4-7

Mike, Nadia. Leah's Mustache Party. Illustrated by Charlene Chua. Inhabit Media, 2016. 26 pages. Ages 3-7

Scott, Jordan. I Talk Like a River. Illustrated by Sydney Smith. Holiday House/Neal Porter Books, 2020. 40 pages. Ages 4-8

From Multiple Perspectives

Edwards, Michelle. Stinky Stern Forever (A Jackson Friends Book). Harcourt , 2005. 49 pages. Ages 6-8

Higgins, Ryan T.. We Don't Eat Our Classmates. Illustrated by Ryan T. Higgins. Disney/Hyperion, 2018. 40 pages. Ages 4-8

Nilsson, Ulf. A Complicated Case. Illustrated by Gitte Spee. Translated by Julia Marshall. Gecko, 2016. 104 pages. Ages 4-8

Seeger, Laura Vaccaro. What If?. Illustrated by Laura Vaccaro Seeger. Neal Porter Books/Roaring Brook, 2010. 32 pages. Ages 3-7

From the Perspective of the Observer

Burningham, John. Edwardo: The Horriblest Boy in the Whole Wide World. Illustrated by John Burningham. Alfred A. Knopf, 2007. 32 pages. Ages 5-8

De Kinder, Jan. Red. Illustrated by Jan De Kinder. Translated by Laura Watkinson. Eerdmans, 2015. 32 pages. Ages 4-8

Kerascoet, . I Walk with Vanessa: A Story About a Simple Act of Kindness. Illustrated by Kerascoet. Schwartz & Wade, 2018. 20 pages. Ages 5-8

Myers, Christopher. Wings. Illustrated by Christopher Myers. Scholastic Press, 2000. 40 pages. Ages 5-10

Wilson-Max, Ken. Max's Starry Night. Illustrated by Ken Wilson-Max. Hyperion/Jump at the Sun, 2001. 24 pages. Ages 2-4

From the Perspective of the Aggressor

Hartnett, Sonya. Sadie and Ratz. Illustrated by Ann James. Candlewick, 2012. 59 pages. Ages 5-8

Seeger, Laura Vaccaro. Bully. Illustrated by Laura Vaccaro Seeger. Neal Porter Books, 2013. 32 pages. Ages 3-7

Woodson, Jacqueline. Each Kindness. Illustrated by E. B. Lewis. Putnam, 2012. 32 pages. Ages 5-9

From the Perspective of the Target

Bagley, Jessixa. Daisy. Illustrated by Jessixa Bagley. Holiday House/Neal Porter Books, 2021. 32 pages. Ages 3-7

Baldacchino, Christine. Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress. Illustrated by Isabelle Malenfant. Groundwood, 2014. 32 pages. Ages 3-8

Bang, Molly. When Sophie's Feelings Are Really, Really Hurt. Illustrated by Molly Bang. Blue Sky/Scholastic, 2015. 32 pages.

Dunbar, Polly. A Lion is a Lion. Illustrated by Polly Dunbar. Candlewick, 2018. 32 pages. Ages 3-6

Henkes, Kevin. Chrysanthemum. Illustrated by Kevin Henkes. Greenwillow, 1991. 32 pages.

Holm, Jennifer L.. Babymouse: Queen of the World (Babymouse #1). Illustrated by Matthew Holm. Random House, 2005. 91 pages. Ages 8-10

Lagercrantz, Rose. My Heart Is Laughing. Illustrated by Eva Eriksson. Translated by Julia Marshall. Gecko, 2014. 119 pages. Ages 7-9

Perez, L. King. First Day in Grapes. Illustrated by Robert Casilla. Lee & Low, 2002. 32 pages. Ages 5-8

Phi, Bao. My Footprints. Illustrated by Basia Tran. Capstone Edition, 2019. 32 pages. Ages 4-8

Reid, Aimee. You Are My Friend: The Story of Mister Rogers and His Neighborhood. Illustrated by Matt Phelan. Abrams, 2019. 40 pages. Ages 6-9

Grades 4-8

Being Different

Cassidy, Sara. A Boy Named Queen. Groundwood, 2016. 77 pages. Ages 7-10

Colbert, Brandy. The Only Black Girls in Town. Little, Brown, 2020. 355 pages. Ages 9-12

Draper, Sharon M.. Out of My Mind. Simon & Schuster, 2010. 295 pages. Ages 9-13

Engle, Margarita. Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir. Atheneum, 2015. 192 pages. Age 11 and older

Frazier, Sundee T.. The Other Half of My Heart. Delacorte, 2010. 296 pages. Ages 9-13

Hill, Jonathan. Tales of a Seventh-Grade Lizard Boy. Illustrated by Jonathan Hill. Candlewick/Walker, 2022. 264 pages. Ages 9-13

Kelly, Erin Entrada. You Go First. Greenwillow/HarperCollins, 2018. 288 pages. Ages 9-12

Park, Linda Sue. Prairie Lotus. Clarion/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2020. 261 pages. Ages 8-11

Rodkey, Geoff. We're Not From Here. Crown/Random House, 2019. 249 pages. Ages 9-12

Scott, Libby and Rebecca Westcott. Can You See Me?. Scholastic Press, 2020. 362 pages. Ages 9-12

From Multiple Perspectives

Cartaya, Pablo. Marcus Vega Doesn't Speak Spanish. Viking, 2018. 249 pages. Ages 10-13

Frost, Helen. Spinning through the Universe: A Novel in Poems from Room 214. Farrar Straus Giroux/Frances Foster Books, 2004. 93 pages. Ages 10-13

Kelly, Erin Entrada. Hello, Universe. Greenwillow, 2017. 313 pages. Ages 8-12

Lowe, Mari. The Dubious Pranks of Shaindy Goodman. Levine Querido, 2023. 162 pages. Ages 9-12

McKay, Hilary. Indigo's Star. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2004. 265 pages. Ages 10-14

From the Perspective of the Observer

Cline-Ransome, Lesa. Being Clem (Finding Langston, #3). Holiday House, 2021. 248 pages. Ages 8-12

Holt, Kimberly Willis. When Zachary Beaver Came to Town. Henry Holt, 1999. 227 pages. Ages 11-15

Keller, Tae. Jennifer Chan Is Not Alone. Random House, 2022. 277 pages. Ages 9-12

Spinelli, Jerry. Loser. HarperCollins/Joanna Cotler Books, 2002. 218 pages. Ages 9-12

From the Perspective of the Aggressor

Benjamin, Ali. The Next Great Paulie Fink. Little, Brown, 2019. 384 pages. Ages 9-12

Harper, Charise Mericle. Bad Sister. Illustrated by Rory Lucey. First Second/Roaring Brook, 2021. 230 pages. Ages 8-12

From the Perspective of the Target

Baptist, Kelly J.. Isaiah Dunn Is My Hero. Crown/Random House, 2020. 195 pages. Ages 9-12

Callender, Kheryn. Hurricane Child. Scholastic, 2018. 214 pages. Ages 10-13

Fipps, Lisa. Starfish. Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin Random House, 2021. 244 pages. Ages 8-12

Hale, Shannon. Real Friends. Illustrated by LeUyen Pham. First Second/Roaring Brook, 2017. 211 pages. Ages 8-12

Harrell, Rob. Wink. Dial/Penguin Random House, 2020. 314 pages. Ages 9-12

Le, Minh. Enlighten Me. Illustrated by Chan Chau. Little, Brown, 2023. 137 pages. Ages 9-12

Leahy, Elisa Stone. Tethered to Other Stars. HarperCollins/Quill Tree, 2023. 313 pages. Ages 10-13

Levy, Joanne. Sorry for Your Loss. Orca, 2021. 245 pages. Ages 9-13

Maldonado, Torrey. What Lane?. Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin, 2020. 125 pages. Ages 9-13

Reynolds, Jason. Stuntboy, in the Meantime. Illustrated by Raul the Third. Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, 2021. 257 pages. Ages 7-10

Rhodes, Jewell Parker. Black Brother, Black Brother. Little, Brown, 2020. 239 pages. Ages 10-13

Wyman, Christina. Jawbreaker. Farrar Straus Giroux/Macmillan, 2023. 305 pages. Ages 8-12

Grades 9-12

Being Different

Gilliland, Raquel Vasquez. Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything. Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse, 2020. 415 pages. Age 12 and older

Johnson, Harriet McBryde. Accidents of Nature. Henry Holt, 2006. 229 pages. Age 14 and older

LaRochelle, David. Absolutely, Positively Not .... Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic, 2005. 224 pages. Age 12 and older

Mejia, Tehlor Kay and Anna-Marie McLemore. Miss Meteor. HarperCollins/HarperTeen, 2020. 392 pages. Age 12 and older

From Multiple Perspectives

Shusterman, Neal. Bruiser. HarperCollins, 2010. 328 pages. Age 14 and older

Shusterman, Neal and Shaun David Hutchinson, Beth Revis, Hannah Moskowitz, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Steve Brezenoff, E. M. Kokie, Trish Doller, Kendare Blake, Brendan Shusterman, Courtney Summers, Delilah S Dawson, Tom Leeven, Trish Doller, Mindi Scott, Margie Gelbwasser. Violent Ends. Simon Pulse, 2015. 338 pages. Age 13 and older

Yang, Gene Luen. American Born Chinese. Illustrated by Gene Luen Yang. First Second/Roaring Brook, 2006. 233 pages. Age 12 and older

From the Perspective of the Observer

Peters, Julie Anne. Luna. Little, Brown/Megan Tingley Books, 2004. 247 pages. Age 14 and older

Spinelli, Jerry. Stargirl. Alfred A. Knopf, 2000. 186 pages. Age 12 and older

Trueman, Terry. 7 Days at the Hot Corner. HarperCollins/HarperTempest, 2007. 150 pages. Age 12 and older

From the Perspective of the Target

Anderson, Laurie Halse. Speak. Farrar Straus Giroux, 1999. 197 pages. Age 13 and older

Curato, Mike. Flamer. Illustrated by Mike Curato. Henry Holt/Macmillan, 2020. 366 pages. Age 12 and older

Erlings, Fridrik. Fish in the Sky. Translated by Fridrik Erlings. Candlewick, 2012. 288 pages. Ages 12-14

Gansworth, Eric. If I Ever Get Out of Here. Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic, 2013. 359 pages. Age 11 and older

Ha, Robin. Almost American Girl. Illustrated by Robin Ha. Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins, 2020. 227 pages. Age 12 and older

Khorram, Adib. Darius the Great Deserves Better. Dial/Penguin Random House, 2020. 342 pages. Age 13 and older

Quintero, Isabel. Gabi: A Girl in Pieces. Cinco Puntos, 2014. 284 pages. Age 14 and older

St. James, James. Freak Show. Dutton, 2007. 298 pages. Age 13 and older

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