Using Wordless Picture Books to Get Kids Talking About Bullying

by Ken Willard, author of Laney Dances in the Rain

National Bullying Prevention Month in October offers an opportunity to open a discussion on bullying that can continue all year, promote positive interaction, and offer children a safe space for dedicated learning.

Using Wordless Picture Books to Get Kids Talking About Bullying

Why Get Kids Talking About Bullying?

Bullying happens, and it can persist or worsen as children grow older and their social worlds become more complex, both online and off—especially if they don’t have the tools to respond. Early conversations about bullying can help prepare students for when they encounter bullying situations.

Through effective communication, parents and educators can teach compassion and empathy, share preventative techniques and strategies, promote individual self-worth and boost confidence, and convert bystanders into upstanders. With these few elements in place and in practice, bullying loses a lot of its intimidating muscle quickly.

Using Wordless Picture Books to Get Kids Talking

Wordless picture books are great engagement tools because children are the primary storytellers. When children drive the narrative, parents and educators can sit back, listen, and observe. While adults can offer direction, interject guidance, or gently ensure the discussion stays on track, children are in charge of taking us on their journey of experiences and perspectives.

This kind of activity can produce valuable information. In a group setting, you’ll hopefully get a chorus of responses and insights. These comments might help you determine if your school has a bullying problem. They might alert you that you need to take more time discussing compassion and empathy. They might illuminate situations where bad things occur in certain places without adult supervision. You’ll glean a lot of helpful information by listening to all the children pitch in and construct their stories.

While wordless books can reveal children’s concerns, they also have huge creative and learning benefits:

  • Group reading experiences bring children together in storytelling. They encourage creative collaboration, team-building skills, and artistic unification.
  • Wordless picture books are great for parents and educators teaching children with learning differences and disabilities. Wordless picture books allow all children to engage with books.
  • Wordless picture books are great for those just learning to read or for those learning a new language.
  • Creatively, the child becomes the author. The story will retain a special value to the child because the book will always and forever be their own.

Do you use wordless picture books? Let us know in the comments what other unique ways you’ve used them in learning.

Sample Discussion Questions

Here are questions you can use to get kids talking about bullying.

  • What is the difference between tattling on someone and telling on someone?
  • What’s something you can do if someone is being unkind to you or one of your classmates?
  • If someone hurt your friend’s feelings, how would that make you feel? What might you do in response?
  • Why is it important to compliment others?
  • Who could you talk to at school if another student treated you unkindly?
  • If you see someone sitting by themselves at lunch or at recess, what could you do?
  • How do you feel when your parents or teachers encourage you? Why?
  • What if someone appears different from you in some way? Do you think you could find something in common with them? How could you discover things that interest you both?
  • How would you feel if someone made fun of you for doing something you love or enjoy? Why do you think people tease or make fun of others?
  • If you’ve been unkind to someone, why would it be important to say you’re sorry?

For additional resources and references, check out these websites:

Ken WillardKen Willard is a lifelong writer with degrees in sociology and communications. He loved visiting his local library as a child, and spent his after-school hours absorbed in the towering shelves of books. It was then he knew he would be a writer. He is married and currently resides in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with his spouse, Atul Suradkar, and their pet cat, Tuxie.


Laney Dances in the Rain book coverKen is the author of Laney Dances in the Rain.

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