Summary: Johnny Big Ears is just like every other five-year-old child, but when he starts his first day of kindergarten, children begin to tease him because of his enormously large ears. Follow Johnny as he faces the challenges that being different presents. How will Johnny react to being teased? Find out why Johnny turns out to be the winner in this endearing, thoughtful book that addresses typical childhood bullying and offers children advice on how to deal with teasing. -- Book Jacket
JOHNNY BIG EARS, THE FEEL-GOOD FRIEND by John Paul Padilla is a great book for children who are feeling left out or bullied in school. The story gives helpful hints for children who are being picked on so they can better handle this uncomfortable situation. In addition, there is a big focus on learning to love yourself and appreciate that what's inside is what matters. How can you argue with those kind of messages?
I thought this book was a little "old" for my four year old son, so I had my nine year old daughter read it instead. She seems to be very in tune with kids who are left out, and I think she attempts to include them in her activities (or at least I hope she does.) She really enjoyed this book, and she thought the lessons in the book were very good. She especially liked how Johnny was able to ignore the bullies and find other friends who treated him with respect. She also loved how the book told kids that everyone is special and unique in their own way.
Our local elementary school is very serious about stopping kids from bullying each other. We actually have a Bully Prevention Committee made up of concerned parents and teachers. There are boxes throughout the entire school -- hallways, classrooms, gym, and cafeteria -- where kids can anonymously report a bullying incident. Rather than have a program that focuses on just the negative aspects of bullying, the committee recently began a practice where kids can nominate other children for a "hero award." If a child stands up to a bully or even includes a child who is being bullied, they are eligible for this award. In addition, each year the children and parents must sign a paper which explains the punishment and zero tolerance policy for bullying. There is also on-going education (both during and after school), and they even have an optional summer assignment that children can do for an extra treat. The Bully Prevention Committee and its education initiative are proving to be a success in our school!
I think this book is appropriate for children in kindergarten through the early elementary years. I'm not really a good judge of this, but I think kids could read this to themselves as early as second grade. However, I think the best use of this book would be for teachers and/or parents to read it with children. I think the overall messages in this book are excellent, and I would hope that reading this book together would create an opportunity to discuss bullying problems.