Say Something by Peggy Moss

On Sunday night, we had our next Family Focus Trait family meeting about being upstanders. During this meeting, we read the book Say Something by Peggy Moss, illustrated by Lea Lyon, and we went through a few role plays in which we practiced what we might say or do to be upstanders. If you don’t know the book Say Something by Peggy Moss, please read on to learn about it, as I think it’s a valuable book for both home and classroom libraries!

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Sometimes, it’s hard to stand up to others when you know they’re doing something wrong. It can be exceptionally hard when what they’re doing is hurtful to a person (as opposed to other behaviors such as littering or defacing public property…), because we naturally fear that they’ll turn their attention to us, and we’ll be on the receiving end of the mean behavior instead.

In Say Something, the protagonist has witnessed many children being mean to others. Sometimes they are picked on, or called names, or have things thrown at them, or laughed at. The main character is very clear to say that she doesn’t do any of those things, but she doesn’t say anything to stop them either.

Then, one day, her friends are absent from school and she finds herself eating lunch alone in the cafeteria. Some kids come over and start to tell funny jokes, funny enough to make her laugh. Funny enough, that is, until the jokes are about her. She fights back tears, wishing she could just disappear… But when the mean kids leave and she has a chance to look around, she is shocked by what she sees.

All around her, children she knew just sat and watched. They didn’t tell the jokes, and they didn’t laugh, but they also didn’t help her.

She recounts her experience to her brother that afternoon, telling him how mad she is at the kids who just sat and watched. He asks why she’s mad at them, since after all, “They didn’t do anything.” Her response? “Right.”

Right. They didn’t do anything. And that hurts too. We read this book and we talked about how much both behaviors hurt. We discussed times when we haven’t done anything, and we shared experiences when we wished our friends had done something. It’s hard to be an upstander, but we are hopeful that these intentional discussions and opportunities to practice will allow our girls to have the courage to stand up, rather than not do anything.

If you liked this, be sure to check out the rest of the books on our list of picture books with characters who stand up to others.

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