Author: Nan Forler
Illustrator: Francois Thisdale
Author/Book Website: www.nanforler.com
Interest Level: Ages 6-9
From the Book Jacket: The boy lifted a mitten-load of snow and smushed it into Lainey's face, wiping away what was left of the smile she'd had on her first day of school. Eliza said nothing. She stood like a statue with her boots sinking deeper and deeper into the snow, her voice as dry as a mouthful of wool, and watched it happen.
Eliza desperately wants to help the new girl, Lainey, when a group of children pick on her in the schoolyard. But like so many people who witness bullying, Eliza feels afraid and powerless to help. As the sun disappears from Lainey's beautiful paintings and the little girl becomes more and more alone, Eliza does find a way to pass along the gifts her own mother has given her - "wings to fly" and the ability to see the wonderful possibilities that lie before her. Then in an act of courage, Eliza spreads those wings and stands up to the bullies. One by one, the other children add their voices, and soon the bullies have skulked away.
Why It's On My Bookshelf: Just when I had given up my search for GOOD (there's only a few out there, friends) books tackling the issue of bystanders - a beautiful story landed in my lap. I'm predicting you will be hearing more and more about Bird Child as it's popularity will certainly rise among school counselors, teachers, and parents. I have immediately built it into my curriculum. There are kids just like Eliza at my school who needed the boost from Nan Forler's book giving them permission to say no to unkind behavior.
Eliza's mom wisely says, "Look down and see what is. Now look up and see what can be." I took the time to make sure the kids understood those words - You have the power to change a situation, a life, a bully problem! This is the first year I've spent more time focusing on the bystanders at my school. It's been time well spent. I'm seeing more empathy, invites to play, faster action to bully behavior, and less exclusion. Don't pass this one up. We are all facing the same issues at our schools, I can see this book appreciated by students everywhere.
A Link to This Book and Others You Might Find Helpful: