What is bibliotherapy? The word bibliotherapy came from the two Greek words biblion (book) and oepatteid (healing). In the past, bibliotherapy was only used for patients in mental hospitals and for people that were seriously ill, although today it has widespread use. Many educators and adults have resorted to bibliotheraphy to help individuals and groups deal with normal and emotional problems they encounter (Rubin, 1978). Historically many definitions have been written to define what bibliotheraphy is. The first written definition was published in Dorland’s Illustrated Medical Dictionary in 1941, and defines bibliotheraphy as “the employment of books and the reading of them in the treatment of nervous disease.” In 1961 the Webster’s Third New International Dictionary defined bibliotheraphy as “the use of selected reading materials as therapeutic adjutants in medicine and psychiatry; also guidance in the solution of personal problems through directed reading.” Webster added that it is also “the use of selected reading materials as therapeutic adjutants in medicine and psychiatry.” Also during that year the Random House Dictionary pinned the definition as “the use of reading as an ameliorative adjunct to therapy.” Later other researchers came up with different definitions as the attitude toward the process began to change. They are as follows: “…a process of dynamic interaction between the personality of the reader and literatureinteraction which may be utilized for personality assessment, adjustment, and growth.” (Russell and Shrodes,1950). “…help(ing) a pupil find a book that might help the pupil solve a personal problem, develop skills needed for living, and/or bolster self-image.” (Shepherd and Iles, 1976). “…getting the right book to the right child at the right time about the right problem.” (Lundsteen, 1972). “Psychology through literature-reading that is used to help solve or prevent problems.” (Stadel, 1964). As time progressed the shift of researchers focus is clearly from application to the mentally ill to a more widespread population, especially children (Cornett & Cornett, 1980; Rubin, 1978). Today the definition of bibliotherapy is simplified to basically books to help people solve problems. The use of literature can be used to help people cope with emotional problems, mental illnesses, or changes that have occurred in their lives. As a result of the change, it promotes personality and developmental growth. Bibliotherapy provides a sensitive way for a practitioner or educator, especially for children, to guide reading to help an individual understand themselves and the environment, learn from others, and possibly find solutions to their problems (Aiex, 2006; Abdullah, 2002; Schrank & Engels, 1981; Mohr, Nixon, & Vicker, 1991).


is also not bibliotheraphy. affirm thoughts and feelings. al. al. When children read stories they can associate their problems with book characters. 1978). In addition to meeting personal problem solving needs. Physiological needs are the most basic needs that must be met. or other). As a result the child may project their own motives into the character and only reinforce the situation they are enduring. Jackson & Nelson. Aiex. Children also must feel safe. If these needs are met through the use of bibliotherapy. provide solutions to problems. Bibliotheraphy is not used for deep psychological problems or as a tool for self-motivated reading. These are all goals that a facilitator would like to accomplish when implementing bibliothearpy (Cornett et. Facilitators need to keep these ideas in mind when implementing bibliotherapy. Philpot. and learn that they are not alone in the world or the first person to experience that problem. communicate new values and attitudes. Children learn about the world around them and gain perspectives and compassion for people that are different from themselves. To truly experience bibliotherapy a plan from a facilitator must be implemented with an individual or group (Cornett et. especially with children.Bibliotherapy is techniques used for instructing interaction between a facilitator and a participant. 1997. 2002-04). 2006. One major drawback of using books is that some people do not enjoy reading or have difficulty reading. create an awareness of others that have similar problems. the reader becomes personally involved with the situations and characters in the books. Abdullah. learn about the world. Children today are exposed to so much violence and issues they don’t understand through the media. Books provide a way for students to learn about these issues in a much more open classroom environment at a slower pace. sometimes it is beyond their comprehension. school. Rubin. the child will be able to accomplish the following: develop a more positive sense of themselves. In addition to these positive outcomes other studies have shown additional advantages of using bibliotherapy with children. Students learn to appreciate literature and become more motivated to read. Children have many needs that should be addressed to help them develop a positive self-concept. Some participants may be defensive and unwilling to discuss their problems because they feel uncomfortable with the situation. al. The child’s needs and desires must be met sympathetically and the 2 . 2002). If a book is recommended from a friend or librarian to help an individual with a possible situation. When should Bibliotheraphy be used and what are the positive and negative effects? Bibliotherapy can be used for a variety of reasons to help children overcome problems or situations they are facing or may face. They gain richer insights about the book and have a greater depth of meaning if bibliotherapy is applied productively with the use of discussion and follow-up activities (Cornett et. bibliotherapy increases reading skills. therefore receiving negative results. loved. and find meaning in life. 1980. 1980. It is implemented when a problem exists. and a problem is addressed. and the need to belong in a group (family. peer. provide insight into problems. Even if a teacher does not feel a child is dealing with a severe emotional problem bibliotherapy can be used to address experiences that all children face. stimulate discussions about problems. cope with stress. 1980. Books provide models for how to cope with a particular problem and may provide possible solutions the child can implement in his or her life. On the opposing side many studies have found negative effects of bibliotherapy.

plot should include creative problem solving.child must not be forced to share feelings or situations they may be uncomfortable with (Joshua & DiMenna. et al. Many studies have been conducted on the positive and negative effects of bibliothearpy. interest level appropriate for the child’s maturity. themes in the book must match the present needs of the child. The creation of a positive atmosphere and getting the attention of the child’s interest will be factors that determine the success of the lesson experience (Cornett. 2002). Setting of Lesson: Once the lesson is developed and the book is chosen the teacher must decide where and when to conduct the session. 2000). 1980. 1997). Students needs can be identified by observation. it is more natural for the children. Overall the use of bibliotherapy continues to increase. Abdullah. The books chosen should meet the following criteria: appropriate for the child’s reading ability.. discussions or reviewing records. How to Conduct Bibliotherapy in the Classroom: Preparation: The first step to deciding on a bibliothearpy lesson is whether you want to use a group or individual approach. 3 . On the first day you want to break the ice with the child in order to make them comfortable sharing in the group. less anxiety is experienced by the children. characters must be believable for the child to emphasize with and not stereotyped. In the classroom the group approach is more advantageous for many reasons: it is less time-consuming. especially in schools. Philpot. Aiex. Another important role for the teacher is to know the book and its contents (Cornett et al. Forming Groups: After identifying each students needs. to help people cope with problems or learn how to face situations that may arise in their lives (Schrank et al. groups can be formed. 2006). Sridhar & Vaughn. To begin the lesson motivate the students with introductory actitivies. 2000. There are certain problems that particular students may encounter that requires a teacher to work one on one with the child. 1980. 1997. 2006. Philpot.. and the child must be able to identify with the setting. parent conferences. 1981). and everyone is able to develop different perspectives and new understandings of the problem (Aiez. Some researchers disagree on some of these issues and therefore there are mixed results on findings in these areas. it enhances the child by allowing them to share common experiences. writing assignments. all children feel a better sense of belonging and security. although these situations will be limited and the teacher may need to seek other resources if the problem is severe. The next step is to match students with appropriate materials..

Once students have had the opportunity to discuss the story it is time to begin reading. and many of them do not know how to deal with these circumstances.. I want to use bibliotherapy to enhance my student’s study of literature and help them cope with issues that arise in their daily lives. No matter what activity the teacher chooses. discuss strong and weak points of a character in the book that the students can identify with.. 2000. The following are a few examples that can be used: Creative Writing: Students can create a diary for a character in the story. write a letter from one character to another or from the student to one character in the book. their behavior. 1980. Before reading the story the general theme of the book should be discussed. 1980. Sridhar et al. 200204. the child needs to be able to identify their problem with the story and express the identification through the activity (Cornett et al. Art Activities: Draw a map to illustrate story events. role-play events in the story. write a poem to stimulate students’ thinking about themselves. Follow-up Activities: The main portion of the bibliotherapy lesson is the application of the book to each child’s problem. Jackson et al. or analyze the decisions of the characters. construct puppets of story characters. There are a vast variety of activities that can be done with the group depending on the problem and how the teacher wants the child to realize how their problem relates to the book. draw pictures of events in the story. After reading the story discuss the character.. Discussion and Role-Playing: Students participate in a roundtable discussion about the decision of a character in the story. and other possible solutions to the problem (Cornett et al. Have the students talk about how they would feel in the particular situation and make predictions of how they think the character will react to the problem. create a collage from magazine photos.Implementation of Lesson: After the students feel comfortable in the group it is finally time to implement the bibliotherapy lesson. 1996).. or discuss how the outcome of the story could be changed and how alternative behaviors of the characters would affect this change. Sridhar et al. Questions should be asked to get the students to identify with the character. write how to resolve the story in a different way. Bibliotherapy and My Future Classroom: As a future classroom teacher my plan is to implement bibliotherapy into the reading curriculum. In order to conduct the lesson successfully the teacher must enter into the child’s world by listening carefully to what each student says. McNamee & DeChiar. McNamee et al. In the world today there are so many obstacles that children have to face. 2000. This is done by using follow-up activities after reading and sharing the book.. This also allows students to summarize what has happened and provides opportunities to get the child to come up with solutions for the main characters problem. The age level of the child and what the child needs to take from the story will determine the follow-up activities for the lesson. During reading stop periodically to ask questions. 1996). or make a mobile to represent events. The homes 4 . how they solved the problem.

my approach would be to refer that child to the guidance counselor. therefore they become more acceptant of this diversity. 1997. One way I plan to do this is by having my students complete activities that will allow me to get to know them better. If I am faced with a student that is enduring a severe problem. I am very optimistic about the success of bibliotherapy. The first step I plan to take is observe my classroom to determine the problems I see developing that hinders student learning. and motivate creativity. I feel they have more experience and techniques to deal with these types of problems. I not only expect this approach to build their self-esteem and improve behavior. instead I want students to feel free to express underlying issues they may not have shared with anyone. I am convinced that students talking and discussing issues allows them to draw closer together and build relationships. 5 .that children live in today. All children can benefit from discussing issues. even if it is not something they have encountered.. but I also think it will improve reading comprehension. According to research it has many benefits that I look forward to seeing my students reap. In the regular classroom I believe that grouping my students according to their individual needs is the most beneficial and productive way to implement bibliotherapy. because it makes them aware that others are different. I don’t want to know just what is on the surface. and the exposure to violence and graphics in the media that they do not understand makes it difficult for some children to cope. promote critical and abstract thinking. This will be accomplished through discussions and follow-up activities (Philpot. Sridhar et al. 2000). As a classroom teacher one of my main goals is to create a classroom community. Once the problems are determined I can put my students into groups and plan my lessons. such as death of a family member.

Dorothy. (1997). Inviting stories to help young people cope with stressful life experiences. Phoeniz. (1991). New York. Bibliotherapy. AZ: Oryz Press. Nixon. 74-82. (1971).edu/pub/eres/EDSPC715_MCINTYRE/Biblio. Weinheim. Sridhar. Nashville. Classroom Use Teaching Guide. Singapore. Storybooks for Tough Times. Mardziah Hayati. Mohr. Joshua. self-concept. Read two books and let’s talk next week. 1-31. 33 (2). Donna. (1999). McNamee. From http://www. (2006). & Engels. Dennis Laura A. (2001). Inc. Bibliotherapy: The right book at the right time. Hilda K. Dheepa & Vaughn. Bibliotherapy for all: Enhancing reading comprehension. Englewood. TN: Incentive Publications. Books that heal: A whole language approach. (1981). Cornett. Jackson.Works Cited Abdullah. Carolyn.html. (2000). 1-6. and behavior. Claudia E. Abigail & DeChiara. Colorado: Fulcrum Publishing. Use of children’s literature in a comprehensive school guidance program for young children. Bibliotherapy. Shelley A. CEDER Yearbook.cuny. Rubin. 2-20. The Personal and Guidance Journal.ldonline. Mildred T. & Vickers. (2006) Retrieved February 2006. Bibliotherapy. Inc. & Nelson. Janice Maidman & DiMenna. Using bibliotherapy: A guide to theory and practice. Bibliotheraphy for classroom use. Sharon (2000). (1978). Brisbane. Frederick A. 6 . Philpot.html. Bibliotherapy as a counseling adjunct: Research findings. Rhea Joyce. Schrank. Bibliotherapy: Methods and materials. (2002). Campbell. ERIC Digest. Jan Grubb. (1996). 143-147. Indiana: Phi Delta Kappa Educational Foundation. (1980). Aiex. The Council for Exceptional Children.hunter. Nola Kortner. Toronto: John Wiley & Sons. Charles F. Retrieved February 2006. Kaye W. Bloomington. Moody. & Limper. Edith. Colorado: Teacher Ideas Press. From http://maxweber. Chicago: American Library Association. & Cornett. Shirley. Chichester.

E.A.E.D.R Survey What’s in Your Bag? Goal this Year Activities to Use to Discuss Books: Dear Annie Top Ten Books/Activities/Lessons: Topics Ethic/Cultural Differences Differences Diversity Fears Growing Up Peers: Problems and Pressures Relationships School Life Self-Concept Self-Esteem Emotions Feelings War Self-acceptance/Accepting Differences in People Handling Criticism Making & Keeping Friends 7 .Resource Guide Matching the Right Book with the Right Child: Me in a Nutshell R.

Storybooks for Tough Times. Jan Grubb.A. Nixon. • Differences Books that Heal: A Whole Language Approach. Jan Grubb. • Peers: Problems and Pressures 8 . Jan Grubb.E. Storybooks for Tough Times. Laura Ann. Jan Grubb. Mohr. • Diversity Use of Children’s Literature in a Comprehensive School Guidance Program for Young Children.Resource Guide/Books Used as Reference Matching the Right Book with the Right Child: • • • • Me in a Nutshell R. Laura Ann. & Nelson.R Survey What’s in Your Bag? Goal this Year Activities to Use to Discuss Books: • • Dear Annie Top Ten Bibliotheraphy for Classroom Use. Campbell. Shirley. • Fears Bibliotheraphy for Classroom Use. Carolyn. Philpot. Philpot. & Vickers. Books/Activities/Lessons: Topics • Ethic/Cultural Differences Bibliotheraphy for Classroom Use. • Growing Up Bibliotheraphy for Classroom Use.E.D. Jackson. Philpot. Philpot. Shelley A. Dorothy. Campbell. Kaye W.

Philpot. • Self-acceptance/Accepting Differences in People • Handling Criticism • Making & Keeping Friends Bibliotherapy for All: Enhancing Reading Comprehension. Laura Ann. Dorothy. Use of Children’s Literature in a Comprehensive School Guidance Program for Young Children. Kaye W. • War Storybooks for Tough Times. Shelley A. Mohr. Kaye W. Carolyn. • Self-Concept Books that Heal: A Whole Language Approach. Shelley A. Shirley. Sridhar. 9 . Self-concept. Carolyn. Dheepa & Vaughn. Campbell. Jan Grubb. Nixon. • Feelings Storybooks for Tough Times. Shelley A. and Behavior. Sharon. & Nelson. Kaye W. • Emotions Use of Children’s Literature in a Comprehensive School Guidance Program for Young Children. & Vickers. Nixon. Laura Ann. • School Life Bibliotheraphy for Classroom Use. Shirley. Mohr. Philpot. & Vickers. & Nelson. Jan Grubb.Bibliotheraphy for Classroom Use. & Nelson. • Relationships Books that Heal: A Whole Language Approach. Campbell. Jackson. Jackson. Dorothy. Jackson. • Self-Esteem Use of Children’s Literature in a Comprehensive School Guidance Program for Young Children.

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