Bibliotherapy: Using Literature to Support Children’s Mental Health
Bibliotherapy, an effective tool in the field of mental health, uses literature as a means to confront fears, uncertainties, and emotional challenges in children. Long before children can read on their own, they have already experienced fantastic stories, songs, movies, and poems that have connected them with the world of words. These early experiences play a crucial role in the development of a child’s emotional and aesthetic relationship with literature.
Clinical, rehabilitative, and educational bibliotherapy are different applications of this practice, which uses literature to support recovery and personal development in different contexts. Today, clinical bibliotherapy is primarily used by medical personnel as an additional method of treatment in institutions that care for patients with mental, emotional, and physical illnesses.
Rehabilitative bibliotherapy helps patients adapt after going through difficulties during their illness, give them greater hope for their recovery, assume physical changes related to their new situation, and identify, recognize, and accept their emotions. Unlike clinical bibliotherapy, it can be applied by librarians or health professionals and can be carried out in hospitals or libraries.
Educational bibliotherapy is used not only with patients recovering from an illness but also in personality development, problem identification, and prevention of problems or disorders. It can be applied by social services professionals such as librarians, teachers, or social workers from educational centers, libraries, youth centers, or in patients’ homes.
In recent years, the role of reading in managing mental well-being has been emphasized through the Reading Well Books on Prescription program, which provides a series of reading recommendations selected by specialists for public libraries. Children’s books can address emotional, behavioral, and learning challenges that babies, children, and adolescents face every day.
Books not only accompany and stimulate imagination and creativity but also help children to name and understand feelings and experiences that they go through. The focus of libraries on creating collections of books prescribed to address mental health problems in childhood and adolescence is a preventive and intervention strategy.
The Child Mind Institute has a collection of 77 popular books on mental health, learning disorders, and other common challenges, such as coping with painful experiences and managing intense emotions. This collection includes books for children up to 12 years old, from illustrated works for reading with young children to chapters for independent readers.
The use of prescribed literature in the field of mental health is considered a tool to support the recovery and personal development of children. By identifying with different characters in books, children are encouraged to talk about their feelings and experiences and seek help in time or recover lost health.
Bibliotherapy has proven to be a valuable resource in supporting children’s mental health and addressing emotional, behavioral, and learning challenges. It is a tool that can be used to help children confront fears, uncertainties, and emotional challenges and promote recovery and personal development.