Bibliotherapy, as a clinical concept and intervention, refers to the use of literature to help people cope more successfully with emotional problems or life changes, or to produce effective change and promote personality development. Bibliotherapy lies at the intersection between literacy, social-emotional intervention, and therapeutic group work.
However, we also know that bibliotherapy can be used in more traditional settings, such as when parents read stories to their children. Using an underlying premise of bibliotherapy, we know that children often identify with literary characters; that association, in turn, helps them gain new perspectives on life, explore alternative paths for success in life, and test out new interactive strategies. Bibliotherapy is a tool that parents can easily use to open the doors of communication with their children.
Since literature confronts life from a “once-removed” viewpoint, bibliotherapy can permit the child to confront emotional and behavioral issues that are too difficult to confront with a more direct approach. Bibliotherapy also permits the child to “try out” new ways of thinking, feeling, perceiving, and behaving within the relative safety of literature. We know that a parent is his/her child’s first and best teacher, and we know the importance of reading with our children. Through the use of a bibliotherapy model, parents will be able to determine how much and how little information to share with their children, and promote bonding at the same time.
Links to Bibliotherapies:
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, by Judith Viorst
The Way I Feel, by Janan Cain