By Dennis Abrams
Nineteen-year-old Aija Mayrock was bullied throughout middle and high school, a all too common occurrence. What makes Aija stand apart is she turned her experience, and what she learned from it, into a kid-friendly book. The Survival Guide to Bullying (Scholastic) is a fresh and relatable perspective on bullying, written and self-published when the author was just sixteen.
“We were all immediately blown away by Aija’s book and the strength of her voice,” said Debra Dorfman, VP and Publisher, Scholastic “What a feat for such a young woman to take a painful personal experience and turn it into a beacon of hope! We knew immediately that with our extensive connections to kids, parents, and teachers, Scholastic would be the best home and platform for her to reach people affected by bullying.”
“When Scholastic told me they wanted to publish my book, it was a dream come true,” said Mayrock. “It was only a year and a half ago that I won the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards for my poetry. That was the moment that changed my life and gave me the confidence to write the first page of this book. I am so honored to be part of the Scholastic family.”
Mayrock offers readers guidance as well as different strategies that helped her get through even the toughest of days. The Survival Guide to Bullying covers everything from cyber bullying to learning how to deal with fear and how to create the life one dreams of. Her use of “roems” (rap poems), survival tips, personal stories and quick quizzes makes the book approachable, relatable, and most importantly, useful and vital.
She writes in the introduction:
“I know what it’s like to be hated for no reason, to be isolated with no explanation, and to feel alone with no end in sight. So in this book, I will try to help you deal with bullying every step of the way. I will tell you how I got through my tough times. And I’ll tell you some of my story. But I will not dwell too much on what knocked me down, because what knocked me down is not as important as what made me stand up.
“I’m not a doctor, teacher, or therapist. I’m just a girl. But I’m a girl who has not only survived bullying – I have thrived because of it.
“I went through very difficult times, but that showed me just how strong I was. It also made me want to use my voice to help others, to talk about important issues, and to make a change in this world. And that is why I wrote this book.
“I can’t tell you that the methods in the book will work for you, but I can promise you possibilities. So take what you can from this book and create your own journey. The bullying is what’s here and now, but it doesn’t exist in your future.”
I had the opportunity to talk to Aija about her book:
How did the book come about? Tell me the story from start to publication.
I wanted to get it into kid’s hands as soon as possible. So I self published it as an eBook and made it as inexpensive as possible – $4.99! One month later, Scholastic acquired my book and now it’s sold wherever books are sold! Crazy!
What do parents not know or understand about bullying that you wish they did? What advice would you give them?
Bullying is NOT “kids being kids.” It effects 13 million American kids every year. It’s an epidemic and it can take a toll on a child on into their adult life.
If your kid is telling you he/she is bullied, BELIEVE THEM. Help them become their own super hero and take charge of the situation. Go into the school and report it. Don’t let anyone get away with this behavior.
Physical real-life bullying vs. cyber bullying. How would you compare the two, and what advice would you give parents?
Cyber bullying is very scary and often foreign to most kid’s parents. You cannot compare, except to say that cyber bullying makes bullying a 24/7 ordeal. Basically, kids can’t escape it, because it doesn’t end at school. And most parents have no idea how to handle it. Have an open conversation with your kids about cyber safety and the problems that can come from the internet. Be there for them to make sure that nothing goes awry.
And finally, I’m sure you’re aware that when the book comes out that there’ll be online attacks on you and the book – unfortunately it comes with the territory. Are you ready for it? How will you deal with it?
I obviously hope that there aren’t any attacks. I’ve spent 4 years of my life creating this book just to help kids/teens with their own bullying situations. But if it comes, I feel strong enough to get through it successfully. I won’t read any messages that are hurtful. And that’s something I suggest to any kid out there too.
Visit her website here