Elisha has Master's degree in Ancient Celtic History & Mythology, as well as a Bachelor's in Marketing. She has extensive experience creating & teaching curricula in college level education, history, English, business and marketing.
Peer pressure is a part of everyday life for students. This makes the topic an important one for all students. There are two different types of pressure: positive and negative. Positive peer pressure comes from fellow students pushing one another to study hard or be more confident, whereas negative peer pressure may result in rejection, underage drinking, stealing, or just being judgmental of others. Either way, it is good for students to know different ways to handle peer pressure, which is where books can come in.
Books can give examples of real or fictional people who are experiencing or have experienced peer pressure. These stories can be relatable to kid's personal experiences, making them easier to address or talk about. I have broken up the book lists below by age range.
Peer Pressure Books for Elementary Students
At a young age, peer pressure is more simplified but still just as painful, as kids are trying to find acceptance and to accept others. The following books are a great way to help students understand peer pressure.
The Berenstain Bears: The In-Crowd by Stan Berenstain
- A new bear moves into town and tries to use her popularity to make fun of others. However, Sister Bear has decided this behavior is not ok, and helps the rest of the bears stand up to her. This is a good book to teach kids that they can stand up for themselves and others.
The Berenstain Bears and The Double Dare by Stan Berenstain
- In this book, Brother Bear joins a gang and is dared to steal a watermelon. This is a simple book but effective in showing the severity of peer pressure to students.
Arthur's Tooth by Marc Brown
- This story has the classic character Arthur feeling pressured to lose one of his teeth, since everyone else has. This is a lesser form of peer pressure, which is also good for kids to see.
Peer Pressure Gauge by Julia Cook
- This is a simple book only meant to help kids work on not falling into the peer pressure trap. Less fiction and more a teachable moments book.
Fourth Grade Rats by Jerry Spinelli
- This book is better for the older kids in elementary grades and discusses the pressures of growing up and the expectations of fellow students. This is a great teachable moment in acceptance of kids of all age levels.
Peer Pressure Books for Junior High Students
In junior high, peer pressure starts to take on more severity for students as they struggle to be accepted. Here is a great variety of book options for teaching about peer pressure.
Wringer by Jerry Spinelli
- This is a good story about how a community and family can cause peer pressure by expecting the same thing for every child when they turn 10. The main character has to learn how to stand up for his own personal beliefs.
Firegirl by Jerry Spinelli
- A great way to talk about peer pressure when you are different from other people. This is about a young girl who was burned and scares most people at her school because of her scarring.
Monster by Walter Dean Myers
- This novel is a first person story of how peer pressure can make you into someone you're not. The main character gets put in juvenile hall for those very decisions. A great story to tell how drastic consequences can happen from peer pressure.
Nothin But Net by Matt Christopher
- Peer pressure can come in many forms. This book is about the struggle of staying friends with an uncool kid. Great story to teach kids that being cool is not worth losing friends.
Peer Pressure Books for High School Students
High school is an even more stressful time for kids as they are dealing acceptance, relationships, and working on their future. These books are relatable to students while still teaching a lesson.
Read My Lips by Teri Brown
- This story is a great example of how someone's skill is turned into a way to hurt others. It teaches that popularity is not worth sacrificing your own moral compass.
Afterparty by Ann Redisch Stampler
- This is a story about a good girl who has been oppressed so long by her father that she is aching to have some freedom. This book shows that dangerous friends can have serious consequences when you are trying to reinvent yourself.
Nerve by Jeanne Ryan
- This is now a movie, making it even more relatable for students. The story talks about how a young woman who is pressured into becoming more adventurous makes the wrong choices and ends up putting her life in danger. Great for teaching that there is a line between taking risks and being unsafe.
The Battle of Jericho by Sharon Draper
- This story tells of how it is important not to lose yourself when joining new clubs or groups that require you to behave in a fashion that you don't approve of. This can teach students that they should weigh the importance of groups versus morality.
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