THOUGHTS ON DEAR BULLY
WHY THEY DID IT
Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones formed the group YAAAB (Young Adult Authors Against Bullying) in April 2010 when they both coincidentally blogged about the Phoebe Prince case on the same day. Megan reached out to Carrie expressing her frustration with this case and the fact that bullying that seemed to be growing at a ridiculously fast rate. As a Massachusetts resident and having already spoken about bullying in schools, Megan was horrified after hearing about the bullying that took place in the Phoebe Prince case. While writing her books, SISTERS OF MISERY and THE LOST SISTER, she had to dig deep to make “mean girls as evil as she possibly could. When she heard about all the bullying and bullycide stories in the news, she felt like the bullies had jumped off the pages of her book and into real life. She was also disheartened by the numerous times she’d done book signings and would say to readers, “I hope you never meet girls as mean as the ones in my book.” Shockingly, they almost always said, “We already have.” Carrie Jones was also moved to do something, as she was the target of bullying as a young child due to a speech impediment. Together, they felt that they owed it to teen readers to discourage bullying -- to make it "uncool." Megan Kelley Hall started by creating a Facebook page that kicked off an entire "movement" to end bullying. This was the day that Megan, Carrie and other authors decided to use their platform as Young Adult authors to actually facilitate change and to be a voice for those kids who cannot speak out or are too afraid to be heard.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Right away, a large number of authors jumped on board of this cause -- wanting to be involved in any way possible. The Facebook group jumped from 5 to 1500 members in one weekend and is now closing in on nearly 5,000 members. Carrie and Megan were thrilled when HarperTeen offered to put all of the stories into an anthology. The thought of having 70 authors – well-known, highly successful writers – sharing their personal bullying stories with their fans was something beyond what they had ever hoped for.
The stories in DEAR BULLY come from all angles: from the point of view of the victim, the mother, the friend, the sibling, the classmate – even a few from the actual bully. Some of the stories are light-hearted, while others are raw and emotional. All of them drive home the point that bullying is something that almost everyone has experienced. And while that is a sad fact, they want to prove that it's not a rite of passage. It doesn't make you stronger, wiser, or better. But it is something that can be overcome, something that can be changed, something that is relatable, and something that one should never be ashamed of. Through these stories, the authors want to show that they understand what teens are going through today. It is important to encourage bystanders to speak up and make bullying unacceptable. Parents and adults must get involved. Bullying is something that people no longer have to endure--at least, not by themselves.
Though quite a lofty mission, the goal of DEAR BULLY is to help just one person get through a difficult time, and hopefully make bullying a thing of the past.
Don't forget to join the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/dearbully, visit the website at www.dearbully.com, or follow DEAR BULLY on Twitter at www.twitter.com/dearbully.
IN THE NEWS:
“FIGHT BACK WITH WORDS. Better Homes & Gardens recommends DEAR BULLY: Remind youngsters heading back to school that getting picked on is tough—but that words can also heal as much as they can hurt, as one anthology proves.” – Better Homes & Gardens
“This anthology of personal essays provides empathetic and heartfelt stories from each corner of the schoolyard: the bullied, the bystander and the bully himself are all represented. Their words will be a welcome palliative or a wise pre-emptive defense against the trials of adolescent social dynamics.” --New York Times
“Two of them, both authors of novels for young adults (Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones), have drawn on the power of the written word to focus attention on the problem and offer solace to the bullied.” – --The Boston Globe
“You’ll love it if… You know someone (or are someone) who’s ever been involved in any type of bullying incident. There’s something in it for everyone, on all sides of the spectrum. You’ll love it even more if you can find a story that inspires you to help someone else.” – Seventeen.com
“With authority often turning a blind eye and cyber-bullying rampant, this timely collection is an excellent resource, especially for group discussion, and the appended, annotated list of websites and further reading extends its usefulness.” – Booklist
“Powerful…All of these stories feel authentic and honest, and readers will find a story or a person to identify with, to look to for comfort or guidance.” School Library Journal
“Bottom line is this anthology is a terrific tool for the counselor who can customize the entries to the needs of the victimized student.” -- Harriet Klausner
“This should be required reading of ALL young girls (not to mention some adults)….Dear Bully is for everyone who has grown up in this culture where bullying takes place every day, not just in the schools, but in our streets, in our homes, our place of work (and globally).Dear Bully unveils the truth of who we are as a community of people, and it's not pretty.” – New Pages Blog
“This is why I think this book is brilliant: Much like It Get's Better, this is a situation where one generation is reaching back to support the other... When you share your story you are shining a light. You never know who is at sea and relying on that light to get them home.” – Miss New York, Kaitlin Monte “Life Under the Crown” blog
“Dear Bully is a novel that needs to be on the shelves of every school library, and in every classroom. I hope it makes its way to the hands of the bullied and the bullies.” –The Crazy Bookworm Blog
“You Can't Protect Your Kid From Bullies Until You've Done This I was about halfway through Dear Bully, a new book of essays from 70 big name teen lit authors (for my fellow YA fans, I'm talking the likes of Megan McCafferty, Alyson Noel, R.L. Stine, etc.) when it hit me. These were all grown-ups talking about some of the worst days of childhood. And almost none had kind words to say about adults.” – Jeanne Sagar, The Stir and Yahoo Shine
“70 poignant essays that will make your tear and/or cheer. There is literally something in this book for everyone. I cried, I laughed, I wanted to write a letter to my Congressman, but most of all…I learned a few things. Bullying doesn’t take one form and it can occur at any age. This is must have for every library, teacher, and anyone who owns a shelf…or a table. Be a hero and buy this book for someone who is struggling.” –I Read Banned Books Blog
“I wish there had been a Dear Bully book 14 years ago.” --Lost in the Library Blog
“I personally think that this book should be required reading for all kids in the 7th grade. I’d even be so bold as to say a compilation for younger kids should be written as well.” --Confessions of a Real Librarian Blog
“This collection is so important and it couldn't come at a better time. This book should be in every administrator's office (their predecessor's failing to address this issue is a common thread woven through the experiences shaed), every media specialist's office, every counselor's office, and in the classroom libraries of every teacher works with these students who stories have not been told. . .yet. Here is the catalyst for discussion. Here are the authors saying, "It happened to me too. . .tell me your story." --Paul Hankins
“EVERY ADULT who works with tweens and teens should read this!” - Sandy
“Once I get the library's budget, this is going to be top of the list - and I'm buying two copies. I want to have one copy on the professional shelf for the teachers to look at and one on the shelf for the students to take out.” - Sarah
“This is a valuable look at how bullying shapes the lives of both the bullies and the bullied.” - Sarah
“Absolutely fantastic. Heart-wrenching and a reality check for anyone believing that this doesn't happen. I'm recommending this to every librarian I know to put this on the shelf.” - Maya
“What a beautiful, amazing, honest, important book. Five stars isn't near enough to show my love for Dear Bully. I'll be donating my copy to my old junior high.” - Colleen
“I knew I would enjoy this book, I just didn't think it would impact me as much as it did. I wish this could be in every middle and high school in the country.” - Stephanie
“I wish I could individually hug everyone who has ever been bullied. Seeing as how that mission is too tragically expansive to take on, I will settle for shouting, "Bravo!" to all the authors to contributed, and to HarperTeen for publishing this anthology. "Encore!" – Gabrielle Carolina
“Amazing anthology of stories about bullying (victimization, perpetration, being a bystander). I mean, what can I say? This collection moved me beyond words. Teachers, parents, and librarians NEED to share this book with their teens. Core title for all teen/ya collections.” - Lalitha
“It's another stark reminder that kids can't do this on their own. They need our help. Thank you to all 70 of these authors and Megan and Carrie for helping me not only set to rest my own past but to chart a path for my future as a mother.” – Jeanne Sagar, Goodreads
“These writers have taken a stand. It's time for all of us to do so as well.” - Jackie