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Coping with kids: Books help child to overcome bullying

Looking for stories to help a child overcome bullying? Here are six new and classic books about kids who deal with being different.

“Absolutely Almost,” by Lisa Graff, for ages 8 to 12. Ten-year-old Albie gets teased by his classmates and criticized by his parents for being only almost good enough. Can a new baby sitter help him learn to take pride in himself?

“Blubber,” by Judy Blume, for ages 8 to 12. Fifth-grader Jill Brenner is more interested in planning her Halloween costume than making fun of her classmate Linda Fischer, whom the class president calls “Blubber.” But when the nickname catches on, she joins in on the bullying — at least, until Jill herself becomes the target.

“Each Kindness,” by Jacqueline Woodson, for ages 5 to 8. Chloe doesn’t think twice about being mean to the new girl, Maya, who wears ragged clothes and doesn’t fit in with the rest of the class. But then Chloe’s teacher gives a lesson about kindness, and Chloe starts to wonder if she should have acted differently.

“Harriet the Spy,” by Louise Fitzhugh, for ages 8 to 12. Aspiring author Harriet Welch has no problem writing down exactly what she thinks — that is, until her classmates find her notebook. Now, the entire school has teamed up against her, and Harriet has to find a way to stand up for herself and make it up to her friends.

“The Paper Cowboy,” by Kristin Levine, for age 10 and older. It’s hard for Tommy to do the right thing when his life at home is so difficult: His mom is sick, and his sister is in the hospital. When one of his pranks spirals out of control, he has to find a way to act like a brave cowboy rather than an outlaw.

“Stargirl,” by Jerry Spinelli, for age 12 and older. Stargirl, the new student at Leo Borlock’s school, doesn’t seem to care what anyone else thinks of her — but Leo does. As the bullying gets worse, Leo has to choose between his friendship with Stargirl and his desire to fit in.

Everything old is new again

A lot of favorite toys from the ’80s are making a comeback. You may find yourself giving your children the same toys you played with back in the day.

Care Bears: (Hasbro) New-generation ultra-plush Care Bears look very much like the old ones. And their mission hasn’t changed: Teach kids about responsibility, caring, sharing, empathy and being a good friend. The variety of sizes retail from $3 to $25 at places like Target and Amazon.com.

Doodle Bear: (Fisher-Price) Create artwork on these sweet, cuddly bears. When a new look is needed, just toss Doodle in the wash, hang him out to dry, and there’s a brand new canvas. Each one comes with special, Doodle-Bear-Only markers. $20 and up.

K’nex: (K’nex) The old sets were pretty free-form. Today, there are all sorts of targeted sets. But just as it was when you were a kid, your imagination is your only limit. Most sets work with each other, so the more you collect, the more you can connect. Prices vary greatly, depending on the size of the kit. Available at retailers or knex.com

Movie Viewer: (Fisher Price) The first Movie Viewers were introduced in 1973, but were popular in the ’80s, too. Despite being low-tech, they work exactly the way they did when you had yours: Slide a cartridge into a slot, and turn a hand crank to play the “movie.” They come with two cartridges (one for learning letters, the other for numbers). No batteries required. $30 at fatbraintoys.com or fisher-price.com

Excavation imagination

A visit to a natural-history museum might prompt a child to wonder how paleontologists piece together dinosaur skeletons. With “Excavate! Dinosaurs Paper Toy Paleontology” (Storey, $12.95), by Jonathan Tennant and Vladimir Nikolov, they can try it for themselves.

The field-guide section offers details on 12 dinosaurs, which can be used to identify the bones in the dig sites. That knowledge can be used to pop out cardboard bones and build 3-D dinosaurs of their own. For age 8 and up.

— Staff and wire reports

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