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Incorporating Bibliotherapy into Your Classroom

written by: Michelle McFarland-McDaniels • edited by: Laurie Patsalides • updated: 1/5/2012

Bibliotherapy can be used as a powerful tool to help teachers address social, emotional and behavioral problems, teach appropriate behavior, and build community. Choose appropriate bibliotherapy texts to help you use literature and help create a classroom community that values, respects, supports.

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    Incorporating Bibliotherapy in Your Classroom

    Incorporating bibliotherapy for children involves four simple steps:

    1. Determining which challenges or problems you will address.
    2. Finding appropriate literature selections to use as bibliotherapy texts.
    3. Planning bibliotherapy activities that will enable you to accomplish your objectives.
    4. Implementing your bibliotherapy activities.

    Here is an example of how bibliotherapy could be implemented in a classroom using Hands Are Not for Hitting by Dr. Martine Agassi:

    1. The teacher decides to address the problem of children hitting each other in the classroom.
    2. After researching and previewing a number of texts, the teacher decides to use Hands Are Not for Hitting.
    3. The objective of this bibliotherapy activity is to help students understand that hitting is not appropriate behavior. Pre-, during and post-reading activities are planned to achieve this objective.

    The following bibliotherapy activities are implemented:

    1. The teacher asks students write down all of the things their hands can be used for.
    2. The teacher asks students to share some of the things they’ve written down with classmates.
    3. After each student has contributed one item from their list, the teacher introduces Hands Are Not for Hitting to the class.
    4. The teacher reads the book aloud to the class.
    5. The class discusses the book. The focal point of the discussion is why hands should not be used for hitting.
    6. The teacher passes out cut-outs of hands and markers to the class. Students are told to write their names on the cut-outs as well as something that hands can be used for.
    7. The teacher asks students to write a paragraph about why hands should not be used for hitting.
    8. The class uses the hand cut-outs and paragraphs to create a bulletin board display about why hands should not be used for hitting.
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    Bibliotherapy for children can be implemented with just about any book, story, or other piece of text that lends itself to the issue you intend to address. It can be used with large groups of students, as well as small groups or individual students, and can be an excellent strategy for teaching the skills necessary for working effectively with a partner or in a group.

    Create a concise lesson plan for each bibliotherapy lesson you intend to implement. Choose appropriate bibliotherapy texts to help you use literature to help create a classroom community that values, respects, supports and celebrates all of your learners.

    It would also be beneficial for you to make a list of books and other pieces of text that make good resources for teaching bibliotherapy lessons, and which lessons the pieces lend themselves to teaching effectively. These tools will help you build a positive classroom environment that promotes balance and supports healthy interactions for years to come.


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