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Young teen bullied for his love of books gets overwhelming online support

Callum Manning

cals_book_account | Instagram | Fair Use

Cerith Gardiner - published on 03/13/20

Callum Manning's sister posted a tweet denouncing the bullying, and thousands offered him support, books, and even a job.

A young book lover, Callum Manning, recently set up an Instagram account to share his reviews of the books he’d read — a slightly unusual but admirable project for a 13-year-old to be posting about these days. But sadly, the bookworm was targeted by classmates for it and bullied.

Callum had just moved to a new school when his new classmates spotted his posts. Their response was to openly mock him on a group chat that the teen could see, hurling insults at him such as “sad weirdo.”

To make matters worse, the group settings meant that Callum couldn’t respond to the bullies. His mom Carla Landreth shared with the BBC that her son was left “devastated” by the cruel comments.

Luckily for Callum, his big sister Ellis Landreth stepped in for a little sibling support by highlighting the bullying on Twitter, with her post garnering nearly 200,000 likes.

Thanks to his sister’s intervention, Callum has received overwhelming support, especially from authors, book critics, and fellow Twitter users. He’s also seen an impressive leap in his own number of followers: “Yesterday I had 39 followers, now I have more than 85,000 – it’s bizarre, but nice to know that people care.”

One large book chain, Waterstones, even tweeted: “We’re so sad to hear this! :( Talking about books is a great way to make friends and discover books you might never have otherwise read! Please tell your brother to keep up with the reviews!” The store also offered to give Callum a free book the next time he popped in.

Authors have also become involved, with Callum receiving encouragement from his favorite author, Caroline Kepnes, who also offered to send him free signed copies of her books.

Another author, Matt Haig, also reached out to the schoolboy as he’d experiences similar bullying at the same age. But as the author points out, this whole experience demonstrates all that is good and bad with social media. “Yes there are always going to be cyber-bullies but there are moments like this [that] swamp out that bullying with kindness.”

And perhaps even more excitingly, the youngster has received an offer to join a junior judging panel that he’d actually get paid for.

“Boo to those kids. If your brother would like to join our (paid) team of Junior Judges for #BNAkids 2020 drop us a dm |direct message].”
Overall the message is loud and clear: no child should be mocked for having a passion. And it’s when people like Callum’s sister stand up to bullying that positive outcomes can happen, and a child can experience that they are not alone.

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