I’m sitting with my trio at the kitchen table, while they use their imaginations like typical UBAM kids, and share with buzzing excitement these out-of-print cards that I scored at the More Store at National Convention this past week. If you’re not familiar with National Convention, you’re either A. Not an Usborne Books & More Consultant (and are missing out!) or B. Are an Usborne Books & More Consultant and did not make it to Convention (you’ll want to plan for Convention 2019 NOW!) I sat down with the intention to review some notes from this past week, and opened up my portfolio where this beauty of a book tumbled out into my hands.
I flipped through it.
I started reading.
I read it some more…and more. And then I glanced up and my children had traced and drawn about ten animals a piece, and before I knew it, I was finished with this book and sat here with my breath held. I looked at my three beautiful and unassuming children and my heart was filled with a combination of both joy and sadness.
Bully on the Bus by Kathryn Apel is the one book that we need right now. It’s the one book that every parent and educator should read. It’s the one book that every child should read and have read to them. It’s the one book that should be in every child’s back-to-school bag given to them by school administrators or PTO groups. Now, this is saying a lot from me, because I believe in the power of books and feel that one book is never enough.
The title of the book is predictable. Yes, there is a bully on the bus. Leroy is picked on by a much older student named DJ. He’s tormented by her daily on the school bus. Leroy’s big sister Ruby tries to step in when she can, but it’s ineffective. The bus driver has tunnel-vision to get all of the children home safely, and his focus is: driving, stopping, and moving on until his bus is empty for the day.
She’s the bully on the bus.
She picks on me and I don’t like it.
I don’t know
how to make her
Leroy faces what many other children who are victims of bullying face. He feels like he can’t tell anyone what is happening, he loses interest in school, he creates excuses to avoid his his regular activities and schedule, and he feels lost and even hopeless. He fears telling his parents, and is misunderstood until Ruby speaks up to help explain what it is that her younger brother has been dealing with.
Together with his parents, teacher, and school bus driver, Leroy spends his bus ride immersed in a book of Fairy Tales given to him by his teacher. She tells him that he has a Secret Weapon, but Leroy doesn’t know what the secret is. Daily, on the bus he gets lost in his book. One single book, where he builds confidence, learns to read better, and learns that he has a voice with the power and knowledge from reading. He learns to speak up to DJ, channeling the inner wisdom gained from reading his Fairy Tales. He finds his voice.
Leroy stands up to DJ using his words. He doesn’t use his fists, his body, or a physical weapon. He uses his mind, and his voice. He uses his strength that was gained from within the pages of a book.
We’ve had too many tragedies and senseless acts in the past year, dare I even say in the past week? I find myself becoming desensitized to the school shootings, reports of suicide, and while mass shootings and high-profile suicides are yes, tragic, and yes something that is hard to grasp; what is happening closer to home?
What is happening
It starts at home. You and I? We are our child’s first teacher. Our memories are first created on the laps of our parents. We dive into feedings, and diaper changes, and snuggles and rocking. And, hopefully sooner than later, you introduce a book to your child for the first time. Will it be a classic children’s book? Is it a book gifted to you at your baby shower? Was it a similar title on your bedroom shelf next to a dusty trophy or baseball?
I’m going to let you in on a secret. Are you ready?
Continue to love your child more today than the first day that they were placed in your arms. Your child needs you more today than they did as a brand new baby. That may seem absolutely ridiculous, comparing your completely helpless newborn baby to a walking-talking-have-their-own-opinions child. Just because they no longer need you for all of their care, they do need you more now to be able to learn how to handle the tough parts of life, that whether we want to face them or not, we need to face.
I firmly believe that if we can start tackling life like Leroy, his family, his bus driver, and his teacher, we can start building the lives again of our children-all of our children who are so lost and confused in the world that we live in. Parenting is tough. There are days that I feel that I’m not sure how much longer I can keep wiping up the same spills, mending the same holes in the knees of uniform pants, or tying the same shoes, wishing my children would grow and learn; mature to be able to do more of these things on their own without my assistance. And you know what? It will happen. Someday. Sooner in fact, than I realize. But, somewhere along the way-we’re losing children. We’re losing families. We’re losing the grace and beauty of the day that is mundane with a carelessness that just makes me shake my head in disbelief and embarrassment that so many of us are raising the next generation of children who are not being shown and given to them the tools to find their voice and speak up. To not be afraid. To not share their good days with their bad days. To try to find ways to make our children happy and temporarily satisfied with more technology, less time outdoors, and less time getting lost
In the pages
Yes. This is the one book that your family needs. It is also the one small change that you can make, right now to create for your child and your family a home filled with hope, and love. Commit to helping your child find their voice.
This book is now available for purchase! At the original time of this publication, the book was not yet listed on my website. To order, please visit:
If you are a teacher, educator, counselor, or therapist in the Greater Cleveland area and would like several copies for your school or organization, please let me know and I can assist you with adding this book to the homes of the amazing children in your care.