Online-safety books for staff and pupils

~ by guest contributor Paul Bradshaw

Despite being a bit of a geek, and having had a Kindle device since they first came out, I still very much prefer the feel of a real book in my hand, whether for professional or personal enlightenment!

Below, I have made a list of a selection of the books that I use when in schools working with children, young people and staff, and I trust that you may wish to consider using yourself?

My opinions are entirely my own and I can vouch that I am not in the pay of Amazon or Waterstones =)

Whilst I have readily admitted that I prefer real books to e-books, quite often I will also purchase the e-version, if available, and then make this into a PowerPoint or Keynote presentation, to share with larger groups of children. If this is not possible, I would endeavour to use a visualiser to create a “big book” experience.

I hope that you will find my recommendations of some use in your classroom setting – happy reading =)

“Dot” is a lovely picture for young children about getting the right balance in your life between Online and Offline activities. It is written by Randi Zuckerberg, Mark Zuckerberg’s older sister. It is delightfully charming and wise. I have used this with Reception children through to sixth formers, as part of a wider debate regarding screen time. The un-named dog, is a real star of this book – one Reception class, I worked with named her Chloe – which is good enough for me.

In a similar vein to Dot, “Tek: The Modern Caveboy”, by Patrick McDonnell, tells a similar tale of how enlightened you can become by the real world, if you only put the phone, tablet or game controller down for a while and be enchanted with what’s happening in the real world. This is a board book and is iPad shaped. I love that in the top right corner of each page, the battery indicator level diminishes as you turn each page. Wonderful.

Hannah Whaley has a series of books about the adventures of Webster, a tech obsessed spider! “Webster’s Friend”, however, is my favourite. This is the tale of Webster and his brother, who unbeknown to each other go online, each pretending to be someone else. This book delicately introduces the reader to issues about strangers online and the perils of anonymity on the web.

Jeanne Willis is a family favourite children’s author and Tony Ross is a celebrated children’s illustrator so what’s not to like about this charming (but sinister) tale of a young chick who loves to surf the web, “Chicken Clicking”. Told in rhyming couplets, this book really has an impact – be sure to revisit each page to look for additional detail in Tony Ross’s art work.

Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross return with this fabulous online safety follow-up to “Chicken Clicking”. In this rhyming tale, two goats, Billy and Cyril, get into all kinds of mischief when they fail to hand in a mobile phone that they find; culminating in a trolling of a Troll scenario. Very insightful – I have used this with Reception through to Y6.Not Online Safety but do check out two of my all-time favourite Jeanne Willis books which my grown-up children still adore, “The Tale of Georgie Grub” and “The Tale of Mucky Mabel” – fabulous.

“Penguinpig” (by Stuart Spendlow and boldly illustrated by Amy Bradley) was recommended to me by an EYFS teacher three years ago, and it’s one of my “go to” books when I am delivering Online Safety for younger children. It’s a cautionary tale about not always believing everything that you read and see online.

Shona Innes’ and Irisz Agocs’“ The Internet is like a puddle” is a lovely analogy of the internet compared to a puddle – my favourite line being, “Some puddles look really clear on the surface, but underneath there might be a whole lot of dirt or slime.” Beautifully illustrated.

Did you know that the Big Bad Wolf is an avid online gamer, or that Rapunzel has trouble getting a decent WIFI signal in her tower? Be prepared to find out more about everyone’s favourite fairy tale characters in “Once Upon a Time Online”, by David Bedford and Rosie Reeve. Another great tale told in rhyming couplets.

Written by Ciara Flood for Childnet this is a tale in the style of Dicken’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ in the way that it shows what would happen to Digiduck® if he went through with sharing online an unkind image of his friend. Help arrives just in time for Digiduck® when faced with this difficult decision! An engaging and beautifully illustrated story of friendship and responsibility online. The Digiduck® collection has been created to help parents and teachers support children aged 3 – 7 about how to be a good friend online. The collection includes a book that you can purchase as well as a PDF version. They have recently created an interactive app.

A handy reference guide for KS2 children, their parents and teachers, too. “Staying Safe Online” by Louie Stowell offers lots of practical advice into an array of online safety concerns whilst maintaining that the internet can be a wonderful thing (it is!). Modern and circumspect, an indispensable guide.

A bit of a left field choice, but I have been using extracts from this comic / graphic novel with Upper KS2, and KS3 – KS4 children. “Terms and Conditions” by R. Sikoryak, conveys the dry subject matter of Apple’s iTunes Terms and Conditions in a very accessible medium which are great for starting discussions about all manner of social media apps. The illustrations in this book are rich, varied and very funny and there’s so much to see. Check this out, I am sure you won’t be disappointed.

And finally, a little more cerebral, and one for staff who are interested in finding out more about Online Safety, is this NSPCC/Wiley Press title, “Online Risk to Children – Impact, Protection and Prevention”. This is a collection of 12 essays by professionals working in this arena. Fascinating and thought provoking. Best quote is from Martin Waller ( a teacher, working in the North East of England), “Education needs to reflect the way in which online technologies are used in the real world to ensure that teaching and learning genuinely prepares children for the future so that they can think critically about the way in which these technologies can be used safely and appropriately.”

Paul Bradshaw is Senior School Improvement Officer for New Technologies & Online Safety at School Improvement Liverpool, Liverpool City Council (major TRUSTnet partner).

He is also a valued member of the LGfL TRUSTnet Safeguarding Board.