Say NO to Bullying

Who has not experienced teasing and taunting while growing up? All children experience it at some point of their lives. And is it always harmless? Absolutely not! Teasing can be vicious and has the potential to turn into bullying; especially when it is repetitive and when there is a conscious intention to hurt or harm.

People often think of bullying as a physical act. There are however other forms of bullying that we may be unaware of or may accept as normal.

Verbal bullying (name-calling, threatening), Emotional bullying (spreading rumours, excluding children from social groups, embarrassing them in front of peers) Physical bullying (pushing, hitting, taking possessions) Cyber bullying (Using the internet, cameras, cell phones, texts to form hate clubs, uploading unflattering, embarrassing pictures etc) are different forms of bullying, and are all equally dangerous.

Let’s face it – being a kid is tough and classroom politics can be brutal. Research suggests that children who are bullied tend to suffer from low self-esteem and mental stress which leads to anxiety, depression, trust issues and introversion. The effects of being bullied are often visible well into adulthood and also interfere with normal and professional functioning.

If your child shows significant signs of increased passivity, withdrawal, drop in grades etc, encourage her to verbalize her feelings. Most children do not recount their experiences as they tend to think that it may make matters worse.  Books are an effective way to tackle this issue and help children communicate. Read stories about children who are bullied or simply hand over books for them to read by themselves. Children’s books about bullying are often valuable resources at homes and classrooms, as they provide effective tools to help children deal with various such situations.  You may also use these books if you have received complaints about your child misbehaving. Young children who bully may not know the impact of their actions. They deserve to be aware in order to make better behavioural choices.

Help children say NO to Bullying with these books. Happy Reading!

 

HANDS ARE NOT FOR HITTING

Author:  Martine Agassi | Illustrator: Marieka Heinlen

Age Group: 1 – 3

Catch them young is a phrase that fits perfectly for the topic at hand. This book helps toddlers understand that hands are not for hitting or hurting. The book focuses on the many positive uses of hands and highlights uses that are peaceful and helpful. It is a great book to encourage children to be kind and compassionate and more importantly to respect each other.

 

BIG BULLY AND M-ME

Author: Arthi Sonthalia |Illustrator: Sebin Simon

For ages: 7 – 9

Big Bully and M- ME is a clever book that manages to talk about various sensitive topics with a touch of humour. Krish who hates being called Krishna has a speech impediment. This makes him a soft target for Ishaan — the class bully, who never misses an opportunity to irk Krish.  Krish’s worst nightmare becomes a reality when he is paired with the big bully and that too to give a speech! A lovely book that throws light on the life of the bully.

 
MY SECRET BULLY

Author: Trudy Ludwig | Illustrator: Abigail Marble

For ages: 7 above

Monica and Katie have been friends since kindergarten. Monica loves being around her when she’s nice. But things gradually change. Katie is mean to Monica and Monica doesn’t understand why.

Monica is a target of relational aggression — emotional bullying among friends who will use name-calling and manipulation to humiliate and ostracize. Monica is manipulated to an extent where she is led to believe that she is way too sensitive. Unable to deal with the toxicity of their friendship, Monica begins to complain of stomach aches to avoid school. But with little help from her mother, Monica learns to be brave and reclaims power from her bully by confronting her with a conscious effort of not sounding like a bully herself.

 

CONFESSIONS OF A FORMER BULLY

For ages: 7 above

Author: Trudy Ludwig | Illustrator: Beth Adams

Katie is found teasing a schoolmate and is asked to visit the school counselor. She is reluctant at first but soon understands the seriousness of her actions. She realizes that bullying has not only hurt the people around her, but herself too. After deep introspection, Katie decides to help other victims by writing a diary about bullying and the tactics that bullies use. Confessions of a Former Bully also provides tools that children can use to identify and stop relational aggression.

 

HOT ISSUES, COOL CHOICES

Author: Sandra Mcleod Humphrey

For ages: 10 above

Hot Issues, Cool Choices is an award winning book with a collection of 26 scenarios depicting various forms of bullying.  Each story covers serious and poignant issues, which read from the child’s point of view. At the end of each vignette, the author offers discussion points to encourage children to think about how the situation could have been dealt with in a peaceful manner. All stories in the book are based on true incidents. The book is dedicated to a 12-year-old boy who took his own life as a result of bullying.

 

Here are 5 more titles that talk about the topic at hand. If you would like to recommend any, please do so in the comment section below.

 

OLIVER BUTTON IS A SISSY by Tomie dePaola (5- 7 years)

CHRYSANTHEMUM by Kevin Henkes (5 – 7 years)

THE RECESS QUEEN by Alexis O Neil (5 – 7 years)

WONDER by R. J Palacio (9 – 12 years)

BLUBBER by Judy Blume (young adults)

 

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An interview with Himanjali Sankar

In a short interview with Hippocampus, author Himanjali Sankar tells us about how she got to writing a young adult novel and also talks about why she was so determined to write a book around a topic that’s considered taboo in India. Do read on to get to the wonderful author better.

  1. How did you come to choose writing as a career and why did you choose to write for children?

I wish it was a career! I am a writer by night and weekends only. My day job is that of an Editor at a publishing house.

  1. What made you attempt a YA novel – especially since you are not a great fan of YA books?

No particular reason. It just so happened. You could say partly because I read a lot of children’s books while my own girls were growing up and reading them as an adult was a different experience from when a child and I felt it would be challenging to try and write for children.

  1. How did you pick the very relevant but reasonably taboo concept of homosexuality in your latest book, Talking of Muskaan. Were you at any point discouraged? Did you face any criticism post publishing?

My older daughter was in her early teens when I wrote this book. I think it is a period of tremendous changes and growth for children, laying the foundation for the sort of adults they will grow up to be. I was interested in how her life was unfolding and felt I had the pulse on children of her age and a better understanding of that age group than any other.

Yes, marginalisation and bullying of children who are different has always bothered me. It was to express this discomfort that I chose the experiences of a child who was homosexual and therefore faced bullying in school. The re-criminalisation of homosexuality had also happened around the time I was writing this book – the judgement was passed by the Supreme Court. This strengthened my determination to write this book.

  1. Tell us about a book that you loved as a child – one that you revisit even today

“To Kill a Mockingbird”. I can’t say it’s for children only. What it talks about is important for every one of us but I do love the fiesty young protagonist Scout and her manner of dealing with life and its injustices.

  1. Share three effective ways in which schools can promote reading for joy amongst children

Organising author visits, opening book clubs and hosting book fairs.

  1. Name three contemporary authors which you feel children should be exposed to.

Suzanne Collins, Neil Gaiman and Peggy/Herman Parish for younger readers. And from India, Anushka Ravishankar and Asha Nehemiah.

  1. Which, according to you, are 5 books that every school library should own?

The Harry Potter series (of course!), The Golden Compass trilogy, “Swami and Friends”, “Coraline”, Junie B Jones series.

  1. If you could become any book character for a day, who would you choose to be?

Elizabeth Bennett from “Pride and Prejudice”.

Himanjali Sankar did her schooling in Kolkata. She then went to Delhi to do her Masters and MPhil in English Literature from JNU. Her book, The Stupendous Timetelling Superdog, was shortlisted for the Crossword Award for Children’s Writing in 2013. She currently works as a Commissioning Editor for Bloomsbury India.

Books about Puberty and Sexuality for Children

Adolescence and puberty can be potentially troubling times for children and adults. A good sex educator becomes integral for these transition years. This can be a parent or a qualified professional … and books!

As children grow up, they begin to undergo various changes – physiological and psychological –  and become increasingly aware of it. Although they anticipate growing up, physical developments –  and the parallel emotional changes – can be very stressful for a child when it actually happens, especially if they do not understand what’s going on and why.

Parents and teachers often find it awkward to discuss puberty and adolescence with children, but it is essential to guide and expose young minds to correct information, rather than avoid the topic entirely. Educating children about changes that occur during puberty and discussing sexuality in a matter-of-fact way, puts it out there that physical changes and sexual feelings are normal, and that it happens to everyone. If you’re thinking that talking to children is not your responsibility, and that Sex Ed class will cover everything that they need to know, think again! Children generally have several questions and doubts that they are probably too embarrassed to ask in front of an audience. This leads them to discussing the topic with their peers which could result in the exchange of fictitious, exaggerated or incorrect information from not-so-credible sources.

Hippocampus has curated a list of books that addresses various aspects of puberty and the challenges that come with them. Do read the books yourself before you hand it over to a child or before you leave it around for them to read. You can decide what information you choose to present to a child and at what age.  What’s appropriate varies for each individual child. Do introduce these books to parents of the children so they could also benefit from them. Go ahead and read these books yourselves, try to leave behind social, cultural and religious biases and help children live guilt-free lives and become confident individuals.

The Puberty Book – A Guide for Children and Teenagers

Written by: Wendy Darvill and Kelsey Powell

The authors recognise the primary role of parents and carers in the sexuality education of their children, but this book is written for the latter rather than the former. It is illustrated throughout with witty and informative cartoons, and all of the questions that are used are based on the thousands of questions that children and teenagers everywhere ask, all the time.

It’s Perfectly Normal

Written by: Robbie H. Harris | Illustrated by: Michael Emberley

‘It’s perfectly Normal’ offers young people the real information they need to know to make responsible decisions and to stay healthy. This award-winning book provides accurate, unbiased answers to nearly every conceivable question – from contraception and puberty to birth control and AIDS.

Menstrupedia – A Friendly Guide to Periods for Girls

Menstrupedia comic is the period guide for girls ages 9 and up. In this book you’ll find answers to questions related to the changing body, periods, nutrition and care taking during periods. This book helps young girls learn on their own in the most easy and fun way using stories and cartoon characters.

What’s Going on Down There? – Answers to Questions Boys Find it Hard to Ask.

Written by: Karen Gravelle with Nick and Chava Castro | Illustrations by Robert Leighton

Why is my voice making such weird sounds? When will I be able to start shaving? Why do I keep getting pimples? What is a wet dream? Your body has been behaving very strangely lately. You hardly know what to expect from one day to the next. Karen Gravelle, with some help from her two young advisors, Nick and Chava Castro, has written a down-to-earth and practical book that will help guide boys through the confusing time of their lives.

Are You There God It’s Me Margaret?

Written by Judy Blume

Life isn’t easy for Margaret. She’s moved away from her childhood home, she’s starting a new school, finding new friends – and she’s convinced she’s not normal. For a start she hasn’t got a clue whether she wants to be Jewish like her father or Christian like her mother.  Margaret confronts various pre-teen female issues, such as buying her first bra, having her first period, coping with sanitary napkins, envy toward another girl who has developed a womanly figure, liking boys, and whether to voice her opinions if they differ from those of her friends.

Hope you find these books helpful. Do tell us about a book that you think is of relevance to the topic in the comments section below. Happy Reading!

Conversation with Khyrunnisa

Khyrunnisa A., prize-winning author of children’s fiction, created the popular comic character Butterfingers for the children’s magazine, Tinkle. Her books in the Butterfingers series published by Puffin include the novels Howzzat Butterfingers! (2010), Goal, Butterfingers! (2012), Clean Bowled, Butterfingers! (2015) and the recently published collection of short stories, The Misadventures of Butterfingers. In an interview with Hippocampus, Khyrunnisa tells us all about how Mukesh evolved to become Amar aka Butterfingers and much more.

  1. When was the first time you, as an adult, discovered a love for children’s literature?

I’ve always enjoyed children’s literature and re-discovered my love for it when my son was growing up.

  1. How did you come up with the character Butterfingers aka Amar?

The story titled Butterfingers was my entry for a short story contest for adult writers of children’s fiction. I come from a large family and we are pretty clumsy; so we sisters often call one another Butterfingers. Since the story I had thought up was cricket-based, I decided to centre it around a clumsy character with the nickname Butterfingers –having a Butterfingers on the cricket field had the potential for spills and laughter. The original name I’d given for Butterfingers in the story was Mukesh, but when Tinkle requested me to create a regular character for the magazine some years later, I went back to Butterfingers who was my personal favourite and re-christened him Amar, the name of my son.

  1. At book reading sessions what questions are you frequently asked?

I’m often asked the same question you asked me – ‘how did you come up with the character Butterfingers?’ Other questions constantly asked are: ‘Why did you choose to write sports-based novels?’ ‘Who is your inspiration?’ ‘When did you want to become a writer?’ ‘Who is your favourite author?’

  1. What inspires you to write for children?

I love children and want them to enjoy reading books. There aren’t too many books that are humorous and I believe children are too stressed out these days; they need to laugh more. I write to make children laugh and bring fun into their lives and if I achieve that through my books it would give me the greatest joy.

  1. Tell us about a book that you loved as a child and that you revisit even today

Jerome K Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat. I love it.

  1. What are the three effective ways in which schools can promote reading for joy?

By having a library period every week and allowing students to use the library whenever they wish, by making story-telling and discussion of books a part of school life, thereby getting them interested in stories and books, and by emphasizing that reading for fun is as important as studying their text books.

  1. Name three contemporary authors which you feel children should be exposed to.

Roald Dahl (though he died in 1990, I think we can call him contemporary and every child should be exposed to his books), David Walliams (Walliams, not Williams) and Ruskin Bond. I hope they are exposed to Khyrunnisa’s books too J

  1. Which are 5 books which every school library should own?

That’s a difficult question for there are at least 500 books every school library should own. My choice narrows down to, in chronological order, Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, Jerome K Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat, Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mocking Bird and Andy Mulligan’s Trash.

  1. If you could become any book character for a day, who would you choose to be?

Difficult again. Jennings (Anthony Buckeridge’s creation) or William (Richmal Crompton’s)

 

Breaking Gender Stereotypes

Women can’t drive. Boys don’t play with dolls. Act like a lady. Boys don’t cry. Blue is for boys and pink is for girls. Girls must have long hair. He is a sissy. Are these phrases all too familiar? You have probably used some of them yourself right? Although we may see these statements as harmless on the surface, the assumptions they are based on and the repercussions maybe negative. Isn’t this what gender stereotyping and discrimination is? Isn’t this what leads to various kinds of anxiety disorders while trying to keep up with ridiculous expectations? With the advertising world reinforcing ideas such as a fair girl is a successful one, or boys must be big and strong, it’s a constant  battle against rigid mindsets. These clichéd inherited assumptions are later carelessly passed on to children.   Toy companies and some publishers of children’s books also tend to be irresponsible.

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There is a widespread acceptance that dinosaurs, pirates, cars, basketball, robotics are all ‘boy’ topics and princess, butterflies, ponies, fairies and cupcakes are topics for girls and such books promote it. Keep your eyes peeled for pink and blue just in case you miss the FOR BOYS and FOR GIRLS.  At Hippocampus, I see girls thoroughly enjoy books about dinosaurs and robots. If any of them were led to believe that it wasn’t meant for girls, would it be fair? Children are constantly victims of gender stereotyping. I was unpleasantly surprised during an event when a little boy picked a purple butterfly mask and his father urged him to pick a caterpillar mask instead.

The silver lining however is that several other authors, publishers, teachers and parents are working towards change. Before I give you a list of children’s books that break gender stereotypes, here’s a throwback of some refreshing incidents where children and parents stood up against sexism.

This dad who won at parenting by letting his son dress up as Princess Elsa for Halloween.

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This lovely little girl who gave the Lego company a piece of her intelligent mind.

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As adults let’s take initiative and help children question stereotypes by keeping them well informed. Most importantly, let us be aware of our own ingrained biases before we unintentionally pass them down. Here is the list of books that you’ve been waiting for. Happy Reading!

The Berenstain Bears – He Bear, She Bear

Stan & Jan Berenstain

An empowering book about a boy bear and a girl bear who tell us that we can do anything that we set our minds to. We can drive trucks, bulldoze roads, go to the moon or even fly planes regardless of whether we are a he or a she.

Oliver Button is a Sissy

Tomie dePaola

A wonderful book about a little boy called Oliver who takes tap dance lessons. He gets teased and bullied by all this classmates but Oliver sticks to what makes him most happy . This is an excellent book to address the topic of not just gender discrimination but also bullying.

The Story of Ferdinand

Author: Munro leaf | Illustrator: Robert Lawson

Ferdinand is a large muscular bull who is expected to be aggressive and fight at bullfights. Except that Ferdinand prefers to graze by the meadows, lie under a tree and smell flowers peacefully.

The Princess Knight

Author: Cornelia Funke | Illustrator: Kerstin Meyer

King Wilfred had three sons and he brought them up they way in which he had been taught. He raised them to learn jousting, fighting, and stride around proudly.  One day when the King has a daughter, the queen passes away.  The king now doesn’t know to raise a daughter, so he teaches princess Violetta the same things that he had taught his sons. Violetta fumbles and fails at the beginning. A nurse even asks her to give it up and learn embroidery instead. But with  hard work and perseverance she soon becomes nimble and quicker than her brothers. When one day the King decides to get Violetta married, she refuses to let anyone ‘win’ her hand and soon devices a way to rescue herself from the sticky situation.

Big Hero Size Zero

Author: Anusha Hariharan, Sowmya Rajendran | Illustrator: Niveditha Subramanium

A brilliant book that will give teens a fresh perspective of everything they understand and don’t understand about gender stereotypes and inequality. Discover all the truths and ‘untruths’ in a lighthearted manner.  A wonderful book about growing up that will help find some answers, and raise more questions with better information.

Organic Kitchen – Gardening Workshop

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CELEBRATING MO WILLEMS

Hippocampus is celebrating author/illustrator MO WILLEMS! Come over and have a rollicking time with crafts, games and wall painting. Laugh out loud with Storyteller, Lavanya and savor the delicious theme-based food too. For those of you who haven’t heard of the author (rolls eyes), here is a brief introduction.

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Mo Willems has authored numerous books for young children, many of which have garnered significant critical acclaim. The New York Times Book Review referred to Willems as “the biggest new talent to emerge thus far in the 00’s”— and to his pigeon character as “one of this decade’s contributions to the pantheon of great picture book characters.”

Three of Willems’ books have been awarded a Caldecott Honor:Don’t let the pigeon drive the bus (2004), Knuffle Bunny – A Cautionary Tale (2005), and Knuffle Bunny Too -A Case of Mistaken Identity (2008). Recently he has been creating the Elephant and Piggie books, an early reader series about a friendly elephant and pig. Elephant and Piggie books won the Theodor Seuss Geisel Medal in 2008 and 2009, and Geisel Honors in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015.In 2010, Willems introduced a new series of books featuring Cat the Cat, also aimed at early readers.

Willems’ books have been translated into a number of languages, spawned animated shorts that have twice been awarded the Carnegie Medal (Knuffle Bunny, 2007, and Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, 2010), and been developed into theatrical musical productions. His illustrations, wire sculpture, and carved ceramics have been exhibited in galleries and museums across the US.

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Don’t miss out on this opportunity to celebrate this lovely author and his cheeky characters! Hurry and grab your tickets from BookMyShow. You can also drop into Hippocampus Children’s Library and Experience Centre, Koramangala..

..or call 080 25630206 | 41101927 for registrations.