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UNIVERSITY OF THESSALY GREECE. JURE 2012 A Learning Odyssey: Exploring new Horizons in Learning and Instruction 23-27 July 2012 Regensburg, Germany. THE DESIGN OF AN INTERVENTION PROGRAMME THROUGH BIBLIOTHERAPY MARINA LOUARI ([email protected]). INTRODUCTION

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University of thessaly greece


JURE 2012

A Learning Odyssey: Exploring new Horizons in Learning and Instruction23-27 July 2012 Regensburg, Germany


MARINA LOUARI ([email protected])


Bibliotherapy has a long history as therapeutic technique. The use of stories can deal not only with emotional and developmental needs of children but also provide them the opportunity to learn about disability.School is a place where children meet each other, whichever is their ethnicity, language or any other kind of diversity. It has the responsibility to sensitize and improve interaction among typical students and those with disabilities. Social integration is a long lasting process which depends on acceptance and interaction (Buch & Valeo, 2004; Laws & Kelly, 2005; Lewis, 1995; Skar, 2010). Behavioral and emotional problems are emerged because of rejection but acceptance and friendships with peers influence positive children’s behavior (Criss, Pettit, Bates, Dodge and Lapp, 2002; Laws & Kelly, 2005; Skar, 2010) and contribute not only to successful inclusion but also improve their social and emotional development (Laws & Kelly, 2005). The results of previous research are ambiguous, as some of them reveal a positive impact on typical students’ attitudes after inclusion and others that there is no impact (McGregor & Forlin, 2005; Roberts & Lindsell, 1997). However, after the implementation of a well-designed intervention, positive attitudes are developed (McGregor & Forlin, 2005), which are important factors for inclusion (Laws & Kelly, 2005).


Bibliotherapy is a multidimensional technique which provide an interaction among reader and mediator through a literature text. Children can find out that others may face the same problems and they may be encouraged to think alternative ways in order to

confront with difficult situations. It can be used in a wide range of issues, such as teasing, bulling, aggression, anxiety, and even more death. Noticeable is the fact that it can be implemented not only as a treatment but also as prevention, as well (McWhirter et al., 2004; Prater et al., 2006).

Bibliotherapeutic technique is a competent method (Pardeck & Pardeck, 1984) and effectiveness is highlighted by follow-up activities (Heath et al., 2005).

Stages: Identification. When the reader find out that there are common points between himself and the character of the plot (Hebert & Furner, 1997).

Catharsis. The reader can find out that there are other persons with the same problems and experience vicariously relief of his/her emotional pressure (Olsen, 2007)

Insight. The reader comprehends that his/her problem is not static, it can be approached and he/she starts seeking alternatives ways in order to reach the appropriate solution (Hebert & Furner, 1997).

Generalization. The reader conceptualizes intuitively that people may confront similar problems all over the world (Hebert & Furner, 1997) and experience same feelings (Kramer & Smith, 1998)



  • What do typical students know about disability?

  • How do they feel for a schoolmate with disability?

  • Do they want to interact with him/her?

  • Can we improve their knowledge about disability through bibliotherapy?

  • Can we improve their attitudes towards a disabled peer through bibliotherapy?


This is a pilot study. The aim is twofold: a) the assessment of students’ awareness about disabilities and the investigation of their attitudes towards a peer with disability b) the design of an intervention programme in order to improve not only students’ awareness but also their attitudes toward disabilities.

  • RESULTS We found that there is not only absence of awareness and knowledge but also misconceptions

  • 95.2 % of students recognized as disabled child only this with physical disability

  • 45.9 of them nominated a child with broken leg as disabled

  • 52.9% recognized blindness as disability

  • 58.8 % mental retardation

  • 41.2% autism

  • 50.6% hearing impairment.

  • Attitudes were not clearly negative or positive.

  • Positive attitudes we can see in items about friendships and personal relations


The sample in the pilot study is 85 students 9-11 years old, randomly chosen. Parents’ consensus will be asked and participation is going to be voluntary. We have chosen this group of children because attitudes are formed before contact (Allbaracin, Johnson & Zanna, 2005) and younger children tend to have more flexible attitudes (Diamond & Hestens, 1996) than adolescents whose attitudes may be turned in negative (Nowicki, 2006) and they hardly change in more positive aspect.


  • Bunch, G. & Valeo, A. (2004). Students attitudes towards peers with disabilities in inclusive and special education schools. . Disability & Society,19, 61-76

  • Criss, M.M. ,Pettit, G.S., Bates, J.E., Dodge, K.A. & Lapp, A.L. (2002). Family adversity, positive peer relationships, and children’s externalising behaviour. A longitudinal perspective on the risk and resilience. Child Development, 73, 1220-1237

  • Diamond, K.E. & Hestenes, L.L. (1996). Preschool children’s conceptions of disabilities: The salience of disability in children’s ideas about others. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 16, 458-475

  • Hebert, T.P. & Furner, J.M. (1997). Helping high ability students overcome math anxiety through bibliotherapy. Journal of Secondary Gifted Education, 8, 164-179.

  • Kramer, P.A. & Smith, G.G. (1998). Easing the pain of divorce through children’s literature. Early Childhood Education Journal, 26, 89-95

  • Laws G., & Kelly E. (2005). The attitudes and friendship intentions of children in United Kingdom mainstream schools towards peers with physical or intellectual disabilities. International Journal of Disability, Development and Education 52 (2), 79-99.

  • Lewis, A. (1995). Children’s understanding of disabilities. Routlrdge, London

  • Mcgregor, S.J.R., & Forlin C. (2005). Attitude students toward peers with disabilities.

  • Nowicki, EA. (2006). A cross sectional multivariate analysis of children’s attitudes toward disabilities. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 50, 335-348

  • Olsen, Μ. (2007). Bibliotherapy: Schools Psychologists’ report of use and efficacy. Thesis of Brigham Young University, Department of Counseling Psychology and Special Education

  • Prater, M.A., Johnstun, M.L., Dyches, T.T. & Johnstun, M.R (2006). Using children’s books as bibliotherapy for at-risk students: A guide for teachers. Preventing School Failure, 50, 5-13.

  • Roberts, C.M., & Lindsell, J.S. (1997). Children’s attitudes and behavioural intentions toward peers with disabilities. International Journal of Disability, Development and Education 44, 133- 145.

  • Sawyer, W.E. (2000). Bibliotherapy: Using books to heal. In W.E. Sawyer (Ed.), Growing up with Literature (3rd Ed.), 207-235. Albany, N.York: Delmar Pudlishers Inc.

  • Skar, L. (2010). Children’s conceptions of the word “disabled”: a phenomenographic study. Disability & Society, 25(2), 177-189Heath, M.A., Sheen, D., Leavy, D., Joung, E. & Money, K. (2005). Bibliotherapy: A resource to facilitate emotional healing and growth. School Psychology, 26, 563-580


  • It will be presented as part of general education curriculum.

  • It is going to last ten weeks (2 -hour session per week).

  • Multiple teaching tools are going to be incorporated.

  • Teacher –led discussions will be conducted.

  • Persons’ abilities not weakness will be highlighted

  • Person language first activities and discussion about the disability rights will be conducted.

  • Videos on disability sports will be presented .

  • It is based on bibliotherapy stages:

  • Pre-reading: motivate students to speak about personal experiences

  • Reading: Read the book, ask questions or clarify blare points.

  • Quiet time, in order to reflect the story.

  • Post reading discussions.

  • Problem solving reinforcement activity, the main and most important part.

  • It must be designed and organized very carefully, step by step.

  • A number of researchers have stated the importance of follow-up activities

  • It is imperative need children to be involved in a multidimensional array of techniques.

  • In this way, children can better gain insight, and find the most appropriate solution to their problem.


  • Disability awareness programmes help typical students understand their disabled peers and show eagerness for interaction during school programme and in free time activities.

  • Bibliotherapy is a technique, not a cure for all. Everyone has his/ her own personality so the results may vary. Also, the reactions may be different and unexpected (Kramer & Smiths, 1998). If there are psychological problems the most appropriate person to implement is a skillful professional (Sawyer, 2000).

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