Author: Audrey Penn
Illustrator: Barbara L Bigson
Interest Level: Ages 4-8Publisher: Tanglewood Press
Lesson Plan: Get Rid of the Bully!
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From the Book Jacket: Chester Raccoon is faced with a common problem to school children - a bully! When a badger causes problems for all the young animals at school, Mrs. Raccoon brings her usual insight and understanding to the problem. She tells Chester and his friends a story of how, in another forest, a pointy blue stone that could hurt tender paws was turned into a smooth pebble with the help of the animals who lived there. Chester and his friends understand the message and join together to help the bully change. When they ask the badger to play, they are surprised how well Mrs. Raccoon's strategy works!
This sweet story illustrates many lessons: that many child bullies are themselves unhappy and that sometimes the best way to get rid of an enemy is to make him or her a friend. Chester and his friends provide readers with a good example of settling differences by peaceful means.
Why It's On My Bookshelf: This book was published a few years ago and I had read it and just really couldn't figure out how I wanted to use it with the kids at the time. Just because a book title has the word Bully in it - doesn't always make it a perfect resource. Fast forward to the end of this last school year and a first grade teacher (who has a major love of bibliotherapy also) approached me with it. She had read it to her class and it was a major hit because of the wonderful spin she put on it. So I was sold. Here's what I've gotten out of it.....
There's another teacher in my building who often says to her students, "What is the kind thing to do?" She'll use this question when dealing with problem solving or bullying situations. LOVE THAT. It absolutely reminded me of Mrs. Raccoon's strategy. So I've started using it too. We do have steps our students are asked to use when dealing with bullying but I just have to say ....there's nothing wrong with also using a kindness strategy. Some kids really respond to this. I really love the responses when I ask this question.
Chester Raccoon and the Big Bad Bully is also a good empathy builder. Mrs. Raccoon tells a story about finding a sharp prickly stone. We used the metaphor of the stone to talk about how it reminds us of bullying behavior. Wow - the kids really responded to this. We drew a picture of it on the board and discussed ways to help the kids who are using bullying behavior and how to help smooth their tough ways out.
My main message to the students was there is nothing wrong with trying to reach out to someone. It's tempting to be mean back to someone but maybe instead of hurting someone in the moment, we could help them. It may not work everytime but it's sure worth a try.
Before I forget....the Kissing Hand puppet is available at amazon but much cheaper on the publisher's website. It's darling.
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