For Julys’ No Bully Book club, we are featuring “The Invisible Boy” by Trudy Ludwig. In this story the main character, Brian, is a shy student who does not require a whole lot of attention. He blends into his environment, not taking up too much room and not joining in conversation with his fellow classmates easily. He struggles to get a word in edgewise and is made to feel like he doesn’t belong.
It’s hard to watch Brian interact with his classmates while being made to feel invisible. At recess the kids do not pick him to be on their team. Instead they exclude him and Brian is left to color by himself while the other children play. He is not invited to social gatherings outside of school, like birthday parties. However, Brian is present when other students talk about the fun they had which makes him feel even more isolated.
It is not until a new student attends his school that he sees a sign of hope. The new student, Justin, is also an outcast as he navigates his new surroundings. When the new kid gets made fun of, Brian takes that opportunity to write him a sweet note which ultimately cheers Justin up. This book is such a wonderful example of how a small act of kindness can go such a long way. In the end of the book, Justin and Brian team up together for a group project in class. Brian finally feels like he belongs and is no longer invisible.
Ultimately this is a story about how important it is to feel a sense of belonging. No Bully teaches that there are four types of bullying: physical, verbal, relational, and cyberbullying. The Invisible Boy is a perfect example of relational bullying when a student isolates another student from their peer group by leaving them out, gossiping, spreading rumors, and scapegoating. It is a wonderful book to remind children to practice inclusion and to watch out for the underdog who might not take up much space, but still needs to feel like they matter and belong.