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Bibliotherapy:. An Issues Approach to Children’s Literature. What is Bibliotherapy Why Bibliotherapy Who does it? How? Brainstorm Range of Topics of Concern. Developmental Bibliotherapy. What is Bibliotherapy? Definitions are often contradictory :

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An Issues Approach to Children’s Literature


What is Bibliotherapy

  • Why Bibliotherapy
  • Who does it?
  • How?
  • Brainstorm Range of Topics of Concern



What is Bibliotherapy?

Definitions are often contradictory:

  • Self-help approach of simply giving a book to a parent or a child
  • Helping with books
  • Bibliotherapy is the healing power of books.
  • The term Bibliotherapy for some is used only if there are accompanying activities to help the reader draw healing insight from the book. I.e. discussion, role playing and creative role playing activities
  • Use of books to influence total development, a process of interactions between the reader and literature which is used for personality assessment, adjustment, growth, clinical and mental hygiene purposes
  • Effective therapy using books must also include plans for implementing children's newly found insights, strategies to monitor their compliance with plans, and provisions for correcting plans that prove to be ineffective.




Why Bibliotherapy

  • Enhance personal, social and cultural insight
    • Encourage emotional catharsis
    • Promote resiliency
    • Assist children in solving day to day problems
    • Assist children to cope with developmental change
    • Assist children to cope with emotional disruptions and developmental change
    • Assist children in problem solving strategies
    • Assist children in becoming more empathetic with others
    • Assist children in learning about the world around them and our culture
    • Promote satisfying personal relationships with other people- connectedness through a shared experience
    • Assist children in understanding that other people have faced similar problems and had similar feelings
    • Provide information about challenges that may be faced
    • Provide recreation of getting lost in a good story about real people.

Who Does What?And For What Purposes?



Media Professionals

Mental Health Professionals

Guidance Counselors

Social Workers



If more than one professional involved is the relationship:

Cooperative: Have same groups of children, but have different purposes (goal is not to contradict efforts)

Consultative:One professional works in consultation with another- relying on expertise of that person and supervision

Collaborative: Both professionals share responsibilities and expertise






  • Enhancing Self Esteem
  • Promoting satisfying relationships with peers
  • Fostering Personal insight
  • Fostering empathy
  • Assisting with problem solving
  • Recreation
  • Altering ways in which children act
  • Emotional Catharsis
  • Etc.

Classroom level?,

Program level? In cooperation, consultation, or collaboration with others?

Books/Material selection-

Pre, During,

Post and Beyond



Rudman,, (1995)

Families Life Cycle

  • Siblings
  • The new baby
  • Sibling rivalry
  • The new Baby
  • Twins
  • Cooperation and Love
  • Facing Responsibility
  • Adoption/Foster care
  • Divorce-Aftermath, Managing
  • Single parent families
  • Blended families
  • Extended Families
  • Sexuality
    • Younger children
    • Older children
  • Aging
  • Death
    • Suicide
    • Immortality and the Supernatural
    • Books in which death is incidental


  • Portrayal of men and boys Cultural Heritage
  • Portrayal of women and girls Special Needs Sexual Abuse
    • Neurological conditions Physical and Emotional Abuse
    • Intellect Substance Abuse
    • Physical War and Peace
    • Emotions
    • Other categories


  • Booktalks
      • Anticipation Reaction Guides
      • Creating a sequel to the story to share
      • Read aloud of key passages with discussion and commentaries
      • "I am" Character Poem or "I know" character poem
      • Character Webs
      • Dramatic presentation of the issue or conflict in the book with
      • alternative resolutions
      • Panel debates
      • Reader-on-the-street- interview
      • Collages representing different characters
      • A new character for the book
      • A new ending/resolution for the book
      • Telling the story from the perspective of a different character(s)
      • Questions generated in response to the reading of the book and background research/information related to the issue of concern ( you may use the Internet
      • to present valuable websites to the class)
      • Letters to or from a character
      • An Interview with the character (Hot Seat)

Bibliotherapy means various things to people depending upon its purposes. On one end of the spectrum, there is a clinical orientation while on the other there is a developmental view of the process. The people involved and the strategies and approach differ according to where they fall along the continuum.

Bibliotherapy acknowledges the power that a book has to touch our minds and our hearts. It involves using books to enhance personal insights about self, others, societal situations, and about our culture. While the results of reading and responding to books which address various issues of concern may indeed be healing,

this class takes a developmental approach. Bibliotherapy in this context is seen as adjunctive to a literary approach to books (Rudman,1993), and it is not considered to be “therapy”. Therefore, the books selected must be of value not only in terms of the issues addressed, but also in terms of literary quality. From this perspective the issues addressed and strategies employed are in keeping with a Reader Response Approach (Rosenblatt) to literature in which children are encouraged to experience a book in a variety of ways and levels. They are encouraged to find themselves and lose themselves in a good book.


Resources on the web



Vandergrift’s selected list of bibs on sensitve issues:

Books on Aging for Children and Young Adults:

Helping Children with Books: