July Book Salute: My Secret Bully

3 Jul

When I taught elementary school, I was constantly on the lookout for children’s books with appealing narratives that contained important messages.  Had Trudy Ludwig been publishing her acclaimed picture books during my teaching days, every single title would have been found in my classroom library. Not that I’m dwelling on missed opportunities here – I couldn’t be more grateful as a parent to have such wonderfully written books to draw from at home in dealing with difficult friendship issues and nontraditional bullying.

image credit: trudyludwig.com

Ludwig is a master at weaving important problem solving skills and coping strategies into realistic and relevant stories for kids. I typically like to pay tribute to a book at the beginning of each month, but there are so many great stories by this fabulous author, I had a difficult time picking just one.  So in order to not play favorites, I’ve chosen to salute My Secret Bully – the first of Ludwig’s stories that I came across.

My Secret Bully is written in such a relatable manner that adults and children alike will ache as the subtleties of relational aggression get played out between two best friends, Monica and Katie.  As readers, we experience with Monica the anguish suffered from name calling, exclusion, humiliation and manipulation of friendships. We also get to celebrate when Monica – with the guidance and support of her mother – learns to cope with a devastating relationship crisis, face her fears of isolation and reclaim her power. My Secret Bully offers kids (ages 5-12) an incredibly meaningful and powerful perspective, and provides adults with invaluable tools and tips for helping to guide our little ones through the often rocky social waters of childhood.


Other wonderful books by Trudy Ludwig

Just Kidding
Trouble Talk
Too Perfect
Confessions of a Former Bully
Better Than You


5 Responses to “July Book Salute: My Secret Bully”

  1. Missa July 5, 2012 at 6:20 am #

    Great recommendations. Thanks!!

  2. Becki July 16, 2012 at 5:06 pm #

    I can’t say thank you enough for these recommendations. I’ve been looking for books like this for awhile now but I haven’t found any that fit the situation quite so well.

    • Hillary Manaster July 17, 2012 at 11:56 am #

      I really think they’re wonderful. Let me know when you have a chance to check them out. I’d love to hear what you think.

      • bibliobecki September 15, 2012 at 11:33 pm #

        Hi, I just wanted to check in and let you know that we finally got the book My Secret Bully from the library late last month.

        My niece J, who is 5, was going through some difficulty with a girl in our apartment building who is very bossy and critical of everything my niece does, all why claiming J as her best friend. The situation was very confusing for J and while this book was aimed at older kids and didn’t completely apply to her situation, it seems to have given her some food for thought.

        She’s the type of kid to process things in her own time, so after we read it and when she’d had some time to think it over she came back and we talked about standing up for ourselves without being mean in return and she came up with some solutions herself(!) for how to deal when neighbor girl was getting too mean/bossy. She’s learned to tell this girl when the things she says are hurtful or she doesn’t feel like she’s being fair and when that doesn’t help she’s learned to make it clear to the other little girls’ mother that she’s ready to come home and no, she cannot be convinced to stay and put up with it. She’s also gotten better at saying no to invitations to go there and play when she doesn’t feel like she has the energy to deal with the other little girl’s negativity.

        I can’t credit this book alone because we have been reading other books that are a bit more age appropriate about how to be a good friend and have talked about how to respond to bullying, but some of it definitely stuck with her and I love how she’s come so far in just a few weeks. Thanks for the recommendation! I wish I’d had this book when I was going through something similar in grade school.

      • Hillary Manaster September 24, 2012 at 2:41 pm #

        I’m so glad to hear that things are turning around for your niece. It’s nice to have some books to anchor discussion, but ultimately its a combination of things – including the love and support of caring adults – that help empower our little ones in difficult social situation. Thank you so much for sharing this story. Its always so nice to hear of kids finding their way! Good luck to J – sounds like she’s on the right track 🙂

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