Hie thee hence… to a library.

With the start of a new school year, there will be the usual back to school sales, discussions about who needs more sleep, complaints about the way teachers teach (or don’t), standardized testing, the Common Core, literacy, and everyone’s favorite topic, bullying.

I will be the last to say that bullying doesn’t exist, or that it’s not as big a problem as people make it out to be in light of recent cases, especially two in Massachusetts alone that led two children to choose suicide. I will say that parents need to get their heads out of their behinds and realize that if they are being told that their child is causing a problem, they need to be willing to investigate and if the allegations prove to be true and that child is causing problems, lay down the law and not make excuses for their little brat.

That being said, I’m also a huge advocate of literacy. I absolutely positively Do. Not. Care. what a child is reading (within limits, obviously. A nine-year-old should not be reading Playboy, even for the articles.) as long as that child is reading. Annie picks up a Batman comic book and reads it while eating breakfast? Good for her! Tommy discovers an old Boxcar Children series in the school library? Awesome. I loved those books. Laura’s teacher talks about Laura Ingalls in class, and that inspires her to check out the Little House books only because she has the same name as the protagonist? Sweet. Steve reads the back of the cereal box? Don’t care, he’s reading. Joe, a high-school junior, takes a break from homework to read an article on Cracked.com? Brain candy AND he may be learning something – win/win situation.

Reading is awesome.

To tie this in with the anti-bullying stance everyone from kindergarten to 12th grade is going to be hearing about, I’d like to suggest the “Tortall Universe” books by Tamora Pierce. These are YA novels (I’d say good for a PG-13 audience due to violence and some sexual themes) featuring strong female protagonists in a fantasy world in the country of Tortall. These quartets (plus one duo and one trio) can be read in any order, but chronologically:

Beka Cooper Series (set 200 or so years before Song of the Lioness) tells the story about young Beka Cooper and her rise through the ranks of Provost Guard. In order: Terrier, Bloodhound, and Mastiff

Song of the Lioness Quartet Alanna of Trebond disguises herself as a boy in order to become a knight for the realm of Tortall. In order: Alanna: The First Adventure, In the Hand of the Goddess, The Woman Who Rides Like a Man, Lioness Rampant

The Immortals Quartet: After losing her family, Daine is hired by the horsemistress of the Queen’s Riders, where she meets many strange people who think her knack with animals is more than just a knack. In order: Wild Magic, Wolf Speaker, Emperor Mage, In the Realms of the Gods

Protector of the Small Quartet: The first openly female page in over a century, Kel must prove her worth to all those who think women are not equal to men on the combat field, including the training master. In order: First Test, Page, Squire, Lady Knight

Trickster Series: Ali, daughter of Alanna the Lioness, is kidnapped by pirates and enslaved. She must use all her wit and the dubious help of a very tricky god to get out of the Copper Islands – which are teetering on the edge of a rebellion. In order: Trickster’s Choice, Trickster’s Queen

It is the Alanna books and the Protector books that really have the anti-bullying undertones. I highly recommend them to boys and girls 13+. Most of these are available on Nook and at your local library.

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