Books allow children to be imaginative and to further understand the world they live in. Bibliotherapy is using books to help solve a personal problem or to offer support and guidance, similar to therapy. Reading stories about topics that are relatable can help children to process information in a way that is separate from themselves, but also is reminiscent of what they may be encountering in their own life. Above all, books can be one of the most effective ways to help children through challenging times. Whether it’s going to the doctor’s, having a new baby in the house, managing emotions, or even more serious topics like divorce, death, or illness – books can lead the way.
Reading a story where a character is experiencing comparable feelings to those your child might be feeling, can allow them to feel less alone and more understood. For instance, seeing how a character works through their emotions and how the people around them help, provides children with a perspective on how to similarly manage it themselves. By seeing someone else facing and successfully managing a scary or difficult situation, it can feel more manageable and less intimidating in their own life.
Going to the Doctor’s or Dentist’s Office
This can be a scary prospect for young children who are unsure of what might happen at the doctor’s office. Many children are intimidated at the thought of getting a shot or having blood drawn. Reading about a character that has these same concerns, but makes it through the visit with a smile can ease some of the fear the child may have. Some wonderful bibliotherapy books about a doctor or dentist visit are:
New Sibling Bibliotherapy
Having a new baby in the house can be exciting, but also hard to understand. Children may wonder if mom and dad will still have time for them, if the baby will be able to play, and if suddenly toys will need to be shared. Helping children prepare for not only the baby’s arrival at home, but what that will mean for the future can make the transition from only child to big sister or brother much smoother. Here are a few great books about new babies to support and guide your child:
Books To Manage Emotions
Young children are just beginning to delve into understanding all of the many emotions that they feel throughout a day (or hour!). Helping children to name their emotions is an important step in helping a child to learn to manage them. Reading bibliotherapy, emotion books that show a wide range of emotions wherein characters learn coping skills can help children to feel understood and heard. Knowing what each emotion looks and feels like leads to the ability to cope and regulate them. You can also reference a character later on when a child has similar feelings and having trouble handling them. Here are a few great books about managing emotions:
Diversity And Self Esteem Bibliotherapy Books
Learning about one another’s differences and what makes each one of us special is a hugely valuable skill for young children to learn. It’s often hard to feel too small, too young, or just too different. Giving children positive self esteem and helping them to embrace not only who they are, but also who the people they come into contact with are, is an important life lesson. Here are some excellent books about diversity, inclusion, and self esteem:
Coping With Divorce, Death, or Loss
No one wants to think about young children having to think about, let alone understand, these hard life lessons. Unfortunately, at times these challenges can occur in a child’s life and it is crucial that they are given the tools to help make these very complex issues seem understandable. Often, adults are not even fully able to process such difficult occurrences, so for children to have books that they can relate to, is even more important. Here are some books to help children understand loss through bibliotherapy. In addition, you could reach out to Mesothelioma Hope for ways to help support a child whose loved one has cancer.
I hope these bibliotherapy book suggestions are helpful as your child helps navigate the big world they live in and all the feelings that come along. Follow us on instagram for more book suggestions in our stories and highlights.
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About The Author
Sarah Proctor has worked with young children for over 25 years as a teacher, childcare director, nanny, and mom of two girls. She has her Bachelors Degree in Early Childhood Education and Administration from UMass Amherst. In addition, Sarah has her Director 2 certification from the Department of Early Education and Care.