A high schooler in the United Kingdom, who was called a ‘sad weirdo’ and bullied by his classmates for being a book lover, has received support from a lot of people on social media, including authors like Neil Gaiman.
Callum Manning was bullied at his new school for being an avid reader and the Instagram handle he used to share his thoughts and reviews of books he had read was trolled. The 13-year-old was mocked about his Instagram page called ‘Cals_book_account’ on a group chat and he was reportedly added to the chat to humiliate him further.
It was his elder sister Ellis Landreth who called out the bullying in a post on social media:
Can’t believe how awful kids are. My little brothers made an Instagram reviewing and talking about books and kids in his new school have seen it and have created a group chat calling him a creep slagging him off about it and added him to it so he could see 🥺 pic.twitter.com/wuuj2XlO34
— Ellis (@EllisLandreth1) February 29, 2020
Support poured in from across the world and Manning saw his follower count jump to 300,000, and he received encouragement from many prominent authors online. British books retail store Waterstones offered free books.
Author Neil Gaiman was among those who replied to the tweet. “I think the love from all around the world has probably let him know he isn’t alone. But all the interesting people I know were once considered weird kids with books. Including me,” he wrote. Author Matt Haig sent many signed books to the teenager.
Here are some of the replies to the tweet about the boy:
Sending Callum some books. pic.twitter.com/lGuxr4MnHm
— Matt Haig (@matthaig1) March 2, 2020
I think the love from all around the world has probably let him know he isn’t alone. But all the interesting people I know were once considered weird kids with books. Including me.
— Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) March 2, 2020
It is devastating and I would very much like to send Cal some books.
— Caroline Kepnes (@CarolineKepnes) March 1, 2020
Hi Cal, I’m not on Insta but if you’d like any of books let me know and I’ll happily send you a signed copy.
— David Nicholls (@DavidNWriter) March 1, 2020
— Malorie Blackman (@malorieblackman) March 1, 2020
Hey, I’ll defo send a book to Cal, my DMs are open, no one should be abused in this way for doing the thing they love #BeKindAlways
— Giles Paley-Phillips (@eliistender10) March 1, 2020
I’d love to send Cal some books. @EllisLandreth1 and if his school has a library I’d also like to donate some books to the school in his name.
— Christopher Golden (@ChristophGolden) March 1, 2020
Cal is a total legend! I have the feeling he’s now discovering just how cool most of the world thinks he is. Books rock!
— Prof Ben Garrod (@Ben_garrod) March 1, 2020
— Helen King (@PrincipalStAns) March 1, 2020
Happy to send Cal three books of his choice.
Just DM me the name and address to post ’em to and the three titles.
I’ll post them off asap.
— Big Green Bookshop (@Biggreenbooks) March 1, 2020
kids at his school are prob mad they can’t read, hope he keeps it up!!!!!!
— Savannah Seymour (@savannahseymour) March 1, 2020
Books are what dreams are made of. We’d like to add to Cal’s collection too – if you send us a mailing address we’ll pop some in the post :) https://t.co/ZVTkVcYPEw
— Pan Macmillan (@panmacmillan) March 1, 2020
It’s so wonderful Cal is sharing his love of reading. It’s also great to see Romeo & Juliet is one of his favourite Shakespeare plays, it’s one of ours too!
We’d love to offer Cal tickets to Romeo & Juliet this summer, let us know if you’d like to visit 🎭https://t.co/1fNwgvsMlx
— Shakespeare’s Globe (@The_Globe) March 2, 2020
We love books and so just started following Cal’s great IG account ☺️ ✨ 📕📗📘📙📖📚📒📓📔 ✨
— Emojipedia 📙 (@Emojipedia) March 1, 2020
This reminds me of kids mocking me at school for chewing with my mouth closed…
Keep telling your little brother that reading books is cool and there’s other cool people out there who love books as much as he does; some even write them! ❤❤❤
— Cátia Machado (@ItsTheCatia) March 1, 2020
Please follow this account and show Cal that loving books is something spectacular and bullies are missing out on life’s greatest adventure by not reading. I know I’m looking forward to Cal’s reviews! @bsuenglish, care to help out? https://t.co/141zxzJbTi
— EmJanaeThat’stheName (@emjanaenae) March 3, 2020
If Cal has a PO Box to mail to, I’m happy to send him a bunch of books. Lemme know 🙂
— Jay Kristoff (@misterkristoff) March 1, 2020
“All I was expecting was a few of my followers to show him some encouragement and support, and that he wasn’t ‘weird’ or ‘sad’ for preferring to read,” Landreth told CNN, adding she didn’t expect her tweet to go viral or get overwhelming response. She also said that those bullying her brother were “all super jealous” of him now.
Talking to BBC, the teenager’s mother Carla Landreth said that her son was “devastated” by the bullying but the responses lifted his spirits. “It has made him feel so good, and sends out a really strong, anti-bullying message – a case of who’s getting the last laugh now,” she told BBC.
Social media, while permitting bullying, has sometimes also been effective in highlighting and combating it. Last month nine-year-old Australian Quaden Bayles, who was bullied in school over his height, received overwhelming support from everyone including actors and sports personalities.
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