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A 13-year-old boy who was left ‘devastated’ after being bullied for his love of books will have the last laugh as the world rallies behind him.
Callum Manning, from South Shields, Tyne and Wear, had only recently started at a new school. In order to share his favourite books with any new friends, he started an Instagram account @cals_book_account.
However, the kids at school had little mercy. Bullies added him to a group chat just so Callum could see them mocking him. After his big sister tweeted about it, people online quickly noticed and now he has more than 200,000 followers.
His sister Ellis Landreth tweeted on Saturday, February 29, that she couldn’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.’
Her post soon went viral, amassing nearly 23,000 retweets and more than 178,000 likes. The responses have been massively in support of Callum’s endeavours, with celebrities and famous authors reaching out to wish him luck.
Waterstones Gateshead was one of the first accounts to reply, offering him a free book and writing: ‘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!’
Messages in the nasty group chat had branded Callum ‘a sad weirdo’ for his hobby. However, the ‘wonderful’ online response has made the bullies look like right mugs, and proved, above all else, that it’s great to love books.
His mum Carla Landreth told the BBC:
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. We even got a ‘good luck’ message from a woman in Iraq. He’s even been invited to visit the Instagram head office. It’s just bonkers but in a really good way, that we’ve been able to turn a negative into a positive.
One of his favourite authors, Caroline Kepnes – the author of You – also reached out to him, along with Matt Haig, the novelist behind Reasons to Stay Alive, who remembered ‘being 13 and hiding my love of books from some of the lads at school who mocked you for it’.
Haig said: ‘I think this is about the best and worst of the internet. Yes there are always going to be cyber-bullies but there are moments like this who swamp out that bullying with kindness.’
Bullies are b*stards, books are cool – we’re with you, Callum.
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