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Bibliotherapy Essay, Research Paper

Children’s Literature as a Resource for Classroom GuidanceBibliotherapy is defined as a process or activity designed to help individuals solve problems or better understand themselves through their response to literature or media (Bodart, 1980). It consists of reading, viewing, or hearing of material, followed by a discussion led by a facilitator. The therapy takes place during this dynamic interaction between the reader and literature.During the last 20 years, researchers and practitioners from the fields of counseling and library science have contributed valuable resources related to bibliotherapy. These resources suggest that bibliotherapy is a valuable tool for use with elementary school students. Although Baruth and Philips (1976) suggested that “bibliotherapy has enormous possibilities in school counseling” (p. 191), their focus was primarily problem-oriented and preventive. In a review of research, Schrank (1982) concluded that bibliotherapy is effective for attitude changes, mental health, self-concept development, and fear reduction. Schrank noted that “from kindergarten throughout one’s formal years of schooling, books have always been a mainstay, a potential tool, for organizing discussion about personal, social, educational and vocational development” (p. 224). Bibliotherapy has been shown additionally to have positive effects on students’ problem-solving ability, prosocial behavior, values development, interpersonal relations, acceptance of people different from themselves, and reading achievement (Cornett & Cornett, 1980).These studies along with “personal testimonies about the effects of certain books” (Cornett & Cornett, 1980, p.15) support the claim that literature can promote developmental growth in a number of domains. Child psychiatrist Robert Coles (1989) has explored in his qualitative research the ways children’s moral and ethical values develop. He has presented literature and art as important because they have the capacity to provide the “moral imagination” that can enhance growth. Experts from the field of library science, such as Judith Rovenger (1988), have pointed to certain literary selections with a special capacity to provide “ethical nourishment” and the universal eloquence to time-release their messages.The review of literature implies that bibliotherapy has possibilities beyond problem-centered interventions involving individual or small group counseling on specific topics. As the school counselor’s role becomes increasingly associated with developmental programming (ASCA, 1979; Myrick, 1987), bibliotherapeutic approaches can also provide a wealth of resources for classroom guidance.This study examined the developmental effects of a bibliotherapy-based classroom guidance curriculum. For the experimental group, titles were selected using criteria for quality developed by experts from the field of children’s literature. The control group participated in an equal number of lessons selected from age-appropriate guidance curricula currently used by school counselors


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