*This is a review post. We were kindly sent a book to read and review*
Bullying is a sensitive topic. You may have experienced being bullied either as a child or an adult, or you may be a parent who’s child/children have been bullied. Until it happens to you, it feels like something everyone talks about but that you don’t fully understand.
My beautiful tweenager, was bullied in primary school. It’s not something we talk a lot about. We tried to deal with it, we felt that some aspects of what happened were dealt with and other parts of the situation were not handled well at all. At one point, I even offered her the option of being removed from school to finish her last year at home, being homeschooled, when she was so unhappy and it seemed that the world around her just didn’t want to listen to what we and she were saying. However, she is fierce and very brave and she battled on, and said she wanted to finish the year and she put up with things and left school with her head held high. We did fight for her to be heard, and believe me, I did my best mother lion impression but sadly, we came away realising that although everyone knows and says bullying is wrong, that doesn’t always mean action happens the way it should. Thankfully secondary school has seen her blossom and recover and she is much happier.
So, being asked to read and review What Wesley Wore, a new book, written to help children explore being different, understanding that everyone is different and that it’s ok and that kindness should happen to other people no matter who they are, has been a privilege but also somewhat cathartic for me.
Written by Samuel Langley-Swain and illustrated by Ryan Sonderegger it’s a bold but gentle book about a weasel that loves to dress up and stand out from the crowd but who faces unkindness from his peers and those around him, who don’t approve of his flair for life and try to make him change and conform. With support from a group of new friends and his dad he finds a place where he can be happy, and accepted but the people he leaves behind realise their loss too.
It’s a great book, simply written with beautiful illustrations, and takes the principle of what happens to someone when they are different and the challenges they face. People can be cruel and unkind and the impact of that on someone’s mental health and wellbeing can be long lasting and incredibly damaging.
As parents we talk to our children about being kind, about treating people they meet, that they spend time with or are around, with kindness and that if someone looks different or does things differently from us, that’s ok and that we can learn from them, but also that we must always be kind and that we don’t pick on people, ostracise people, or make their life harder because we think they are different. This is a great book to open the discussion on bullying and it can be read to your child or children or they can read it themselves. It would be a great book to use as a classroom resource, or for having at home to broach the topic of bullying and how we treat people. It is also great for talking about how we stand up for other people, and that it’s sometimes our job to be the one who helps, when someone else is being bullied.
Matthew and I read the book and he understood the message. “it’s about being different and what happens when people don’t like that and are unkind, and how that can hurt someone, and how people can help stop that”.
This is an excellent book for keeping the message simple but effective when talking to your kids about bullying, and it’s well worth getting your hands on a copy. You can buy your own copy hereor at Waterstones.
One day, perhaps bullying will be a thing of the past. Until then we need to keep talking, teaching, learning and making the message clear that it cannot and should not be tolerated. Teaching our kids is part of that message. I think books like this can help.