Anti-Bullying Week takes place from 14th to 18th November. The theme for 2022 is Reach Out. To show everyone that we are unique, children and adults are encouraged to put on a pair of odd socks, which makes 14th November Odd Socks Day. Eva Wong Nava, Representation Feature Editor for Words & Pictures, takes a look at how we can reach out with our words and pictures.


The Anti-Bullying Alliance (ABA) is the coordinator of England and Wales’ annual Anti-Bullying Week. The theme for 2022, Reach Out, was selected after the Alliance had conversations with parents and students who told them that it is important to remind everyone in our communities — schools, neighbourhoods, work, and online — that we need to support our friends and families who are being bullied.


Andy Day is the patron of Anti-Bullying Week. This CBBC and CBeebie presenter needs no introduction. Neither does his band, Andy and The Odd Socks — so this explains Odd Socks Day. Please pardon the puns, but as children’s book authors, punning aloud is allowed in my books. Put on a pair of odd socks and start the day with some fun.


Behind the fun, there is a serious message: remember that we are all different, unique and we need to celebrate ourselves. And you don’t have to do this alone. Reach out to your community and take a look at the Anti-Bullying Alliance website. There are free downloadable teaching resources for schools and parents to take part in Anti-Bullying Week.


Reaching out is also a call to action, if you will. Reach out and speak up about your experiences of being bullied. That’s one way. When you open up, it helps others to do the same. Of course, those who have been bullied often find it hard to speak up for fear of reprisals. It is then advisable to reach out to someone you trust, says the Alliance. Reach out and offer assistance to someone you see being bullied. It takes courage to reach out and courage is all we’ve got when we want to make changes.


It takes courage to speak up to encourage, raise awareness and for a universal good cause. 

I want to talk about a new picture book that blew my mind — A Costume for Charly (Beaming Books, 2022) — by CK Malone, illustrated by Alejandra Barajas. CK Malone was born intersex and identifies non-binary. This is their debut picture book. It is a sweet, sweet story about Charly, a character that mirrors CK Malone, who finally finds a costume for Halloween that is neither masculine nor feminine, but all of which is 100 per cent Charly. Some thinking out of the box helps, and that was exactly what Charly did when they rummaged in their dressing up box and couldn’t find something that fit. The best minds are creative minds and they made good and created a costume for Charly. Barajas’ visual storytelling is captivating and moving, inter-animating Malone’s words with empathy and love.


This book is releasing in the UK on 6th December, 2022, just in time for Christmas. I got mine from my sister in Raleigh, North Carolina. This picture book tugged at me, even though I am a cisgender, straight woman. I can only imagine the challenges that non-binary and transgender children are faced with. Suicide rates are high among such children. So acceptance is key. A Costume For Charly is a story about acceptance and being seen for who they and we are.


For readers who are just a little older — aged between 10 and 12 — Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass (Candlewick Press, 2014) by Meg Medina is a fun read. Medina is a Pura Belpré Award-winning author. The Pura Belpré Award was established in 1996 and given to an author and/or illustrator from the Latinx community, whose work “best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth”. Compared to the United States, the Latino community is small in the UK, made up of Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, and Brazilians.


Meg Medina’s main character, Piddy, is being singled out at school. It all started because the bully, Yaqui, had formed certain impressions of Piddy; impressions so perfect that they make Yaqui jealous of Piddy. But little does Yaqui know, Piddy’s life is far from perfect: she has to work part-time to save up for college, (university in the US), and she’s never met her father. This novel shows young readers that everyone has a story despite our glowing image.


It is an insightful read and also one that could be used to tackle and open discussions about other themes like jealousy, identity and how we are perceived.


On the non-fiction front, (and November is also Non-fiction Month), we have Dealing with Bullying (Franklin Watts, 2017) by Jane Lacey, illustrated by Venitia Dean. This author/illustrator duo have paired up again on another non-fiction title — Dealing with Racism (Franklin Watts, 2019).


Dealing with Bullying is a BooksForTopics recommendation and is good for children between the ages of 7 and 9. This book helps young children understand what bullying is and to reach out and help those being bullied. The book has seven stories from children who have experienced bullying. We hear about someone being left out by her friend group. A boy bullied for the way he speaks. Readers also learn about verbal and physical bullying. I love the way this book is packed with information and role-playing activities. 


To write, we always have to put ourselves in our characters’ shoes. I had to do that when I wrote The Boy Who Talks in Bits and Bobs (Little Knights Publishing, 2018), illustrated by Debasmita Dasgupta. Owen, my main character, has a stutter. He is teased because he “talks in bits and bobs”. Behind the story is also research which I had to do when drafting the story. During school visits, I explain what a stutter is and why someone can find speaking challenging. I ask my young audience to think about how they can reach out to help someone who has difficulty speaking.


It’s important to help children who face bullying to reach out and ask for help. It’s crucial that we celebrate each other’s uniqueness and to allow everyone, no matter how they identify, look like and talk like, to just be themselves. Go on, join me on 14th November and wear odd socks!


*Header image by Gary Fabbri.



Gary Fabbri has illustrated, written and directed ads, promos, and image films for numerous companies. He is now a full time writer, artist & creative director of his own company — Shed9. This illustration is from a graphic novel about bullying that Gary is working on at the moment.


Eva Wong Nava is Representation Feature Editor for Words & Pictures magazine. Find her on Twitter and Instagram @evawongnava. Email her at w&

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