Using Bibliotherapy with Gifted Children


In an article entitled, Using Bibliotherapy with Gifted Children, Mary M. Frasier and Carolyn McGannon examine the way to use books as therapy in a gifted class setting. The authors discuss the value of bibliotherapy as a “vicarious experience,”and they express the importance of having an interactive discussion about the book afterwards, either as a large class discussing  a universal problem, an individual problem that affects a large class, a small group problem, or a personal problem with an individual (Frasier & McGannon, 1981).

They suggest having a filing system with index cards available for use by both teacher and student (Frasier & McGannon, 1981). I love this idea. I had thought about incorporating this into the youth department at our library where there was essentially a “feelings box” full of various titles to address emotions the patron was going through. Frasier and McGannon use index cards with the title and citation, age group (elementary, middle, and high school) and a synopsis about the book or poem. But perhaps most importantly, in the top corner there is a situational notation like, “peer relationships” or “empathy” or “bullies.” This allows for quick search. The card can be reproduced to put in various spots if it fits various topics. Also, I thought that on the back, one could write out thought-provoking questions to get the reader started with their own version of bibliotherapy (or in the teacher’s case, get them started in group discussion) and allow them a minute to think on what they read when finished. It could even be a journaling assignment for the individual.

The authors remind us of a few points to remember about making the bibliotherapy program a success:

  1. The teacher or librarian should make it their mission to read as many of the books (in the filing system or program) as possible.
  2. The books should be available and out for the students and patrons.
  3. Since gifted kids are operating above their usual reading level, suggest books that challenge them in some way.
  4. Make use of other mediums in this endeavor: journaling, art, book talks, bulletin bards, etc. (This also helps with multi-modal learning styles.)
  5. Stay abreast of new books and trends.
  6. Make the discussions peer-led rather than teacher-led. Giving the students and patrons free-reign on the nature and direction of the talk (Frasier & McGannon, 1981).

Honestly, I loved this article. It is clear and concise, and Frasier and McGannon pack a lot of practical information in a small space. It also makes incorporating bibliotherapy into a classroom or library program seem totally do-able.

Frasier, M. and McCannon, C. (1981). Using bibliotherapy with gifted children. Gifted Child Quarterly, 25(2), 81-85.



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