Materials for a reading project
1. What is a bully?
2. What kind of bullying did the main character, Russell, get from Richie?
3. Why do you think bullies like Richie choose to bully?
4. In the second chapter, Russell talks about how his middle school feels like Darkland—"an obstacle course of kids alert for someone they can pound on or ridicule" and "a place you tried to survive." Do you think middle school is really like that for students? Why or why not?
5. Make a list of what Russell or other victims of bullies could do to try to cope with "predators" like Richie. Rank them in order from most effective to least. Explain why you ranked the first response as most effective, and the last response as least effective.
6. Elliot is picked on for a variety of reasons—his name, his size, etc.—but what it really comes down to, Russell says, is that "somebody has to be on the bottom, and in our class it was him." (p. 17) Do you think somebody always has to be on the bottom? Why? Does that person inevitably have to be picked on?
7. When Elliot asks Russell to meet him in the library, Russell agrees, in part because he knows he'll be safe there. Where are the safest places in our school? Where does most bullying take place?
8. How is the bullying of Bethany's group different from Richie's? How are they the same? Is one kind of bullying more vicious or hurtful than the other? Why?
9. Elliot notes that dinos with "no horns, or armor...and no speed..." (p.25) were able to survive by traveling together in herds. Recently, the TV show Dateline presented a program on bullying, which noted that just one student speaking out against a bully would stop the harassment. This one person is called an ally. What could an ally say or do that would be helpful to someone who's being harassed? How might Russell, Elliot, and Catalina benefit from becoming allies?
Activity: "One Left Out" Game
Preparation: Have all but one student stand in a circle. Mark each person's place in the circle with a piece of masking tape on the floor.
Directions: The "one left out" stands in the center of the circle and calls out a command to the students in the circle:
"If you _____________, then move."
The command should identify things students have in common...and ways in which they are different. For example:
"If you put ketchup on your hamburger, then move."
"If you have every been bullied, then move."
"If you were born in __________, then move."
Those students to whom the command applies must move to a different spot in the circle—but not into the spot on their immediate left or right. While the students are moving, the "one left out" tries to take a vacated spot and rejoin the circle. If he/she is successful, the new "one left out" gives the next command. If the "one left out" is unsuccessful, then he/she continues to call commands.
Processing: To connect this activity with The Revealers, try discussing these questions:
- How did it feel to be the "one left out" and put on the spot?
- How did it feel to be in the circle, knowing that you might lose your place?
- Are these similar to the feelings one has when one is left out of a clique, club, or other activity? Why is it important to feel like you're part of a group? What happens when we don't feel wanted?
- In what ways is this game similar to what's happening in The Revealers? Can you think of any other games that leave one person out, with the object of getting back in? Think about the kinds of behaviors that can occur between those "in" and the "one left out"? Can any of those behaviors be considered bullying? Why? Did those actions help or hinder the game? Why?