October Book Review & Activity: Simon’s Hook by Karen Burnett

This book is an excellent tool to use to educate students on how to respond to teasing.   I love that the book focuses on supporting the person being bullied instead of the person doing the bullying.  Simon’s Hook provides five specific strategies to help students keep their power instead of reacting in a way that will reinforce the bullying behavior.  In the story, Simon arrives to school with an unfortunate haircut given to him by his sister.  After being teased, he runs home and his greeted by his Grandma Rose.  She uses a fishing metaphor to teach Simon how to stop being teased.  Grandma Rose compares teasing to baiting a hook.  If you bite the bait you have given up your power to the person who is doing the teasing.  If you learn how to respond to the bait then you keep your power and remain a free fish.  Simon returns to the playground ready to apply the skills taught to him by his Grandma Rose.  I really appreciate a book that teaches real skills that children can easily apply.


When reading this book to younger students, I recommend omitting less relevant text due to the length of the book.  For example, I skip over some of the fish bubbles and only read the “catchiest” responses.

Also, the ending may be somewhat unrealistic for many children who are teased.  It is apparent that Simon was already being included in the group of kids who were giving him a hard time before the teasing occurred.  Chances are a child who was not already included in the group would not be instantly accepted at this point.  I just thought this was an important point to mention and think about when reading this story.

Discussion Questions

1.  Why did the kids tease Simon?

2. How did Simon feel?

3. How did Grandma Rose help Simon?

4. Do you have someone like Grandma Rose to talk to when you have a problem?

5. What are some things you can do instead of biting the bait?

6. Why do some kids want to hook you with their bait?

7. What happens if they catch you with their bait?

8. What happens if you do not bite their bait?





3 short videos to use with your students after reading the book or in place of the book.

Video 1: Simon learns that a tease is like a hook and realizes he can swim around the bait.

Video 2: Grandma Rose tells about the fish who learned to swim around the teasing hooks.

Video 3: Kids from the neighborhood share ways to swim around the teasing hooks.

Activity: bubble or bite?

Ask the class to list different types of bait students use when teasing someone.  Examples:  four eyes; your hair looks ugly today, you’re a baby; you have cooties; etc.  Next, attach several hooks to the board (either draw hooks or print out the hooks provided)  Pick your top favorite bait statements from the class list and write one under each hook.

Review the strategies taught in the book.

Instead of Biting…

  1. Do Little or Nothing (don’t react)
  2. Agree with the Hook
  3. Distract the Fishermen (change the subject)
  4. Laugh or Make a Joke
  5. Stay Away from the Hooks (swim in another part of the sea)

Pass out a set of blank bubbles to each student (if you have 5 baited hooks, then pass out 5 bubbles to each student).  Challenge your students to write a bubble response on each bubble for each baited hook.  Remind students that in order to stop the teasing, they must not bite the bait.  Review what a bite response might sound like.

If you want to make this more challenging then require the students to come up with each kind of strategy (don’t react, agree, distract, laugh, and stay away)

The students will attach their bubble responses to the board below the bait statements (not directly on the bait). Now you have a sea full of possible responses next time you are faced with teasing!

Optional Reward:  Reward each student with a yummy gummy worm!

bubbles and hooks

More Activities

If you are an annual subscriber then check the bullying section of the lesson page this Friday for more activities!  Also, congratulations to Danna S.!  She is the winner of The Dot, September’s book of the month.

Beware of Bait  (annual subscribers click on link)

How to Play Beware of Bait: The class will practice identifying what to do and what not to do when someone is being teased.   On the board there is a boat with the label, “You’re a Little Shrimp”.  Tell the students that the fish responses that will bite the bait go on the baited hooks.  These fish gave up their power and will not be free of teasing.  On the board there is a “Free Fish” label.  Tell the students that the fish responses that will not bite the bait go on the gold coins (good job).  These fish will get to be free fish in the sea because they chose to keep their power.  Each student will get a fish card (sea creature).  The students will take turns reading their card out loud to the class and deciding whether or not it is a free fish or hooked fish.