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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: bibliotherapy, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 10 of 10
1. Bibliotherapy Could Help With Stress Management

bookstack304 Can reading books help with stress management? In a piece published in The New Yorker, social anthropologist and author Ceridwen Dovey talked about her experiences with bibliotherapy.

This form of psychological treatment encourages reading to promote healing. This practice has been conducted in a variety of settings from literature courses for incarcerated individuals to reading circles for elderly dementia patients.

Here’s more from the article: “For all avid readers who have been self-medicating with great books their entire lives, it comes as no surprise that reading books can be good for your mental health and your relationships with others, but exactly why and how is now becoming clearer, thanks to new research on reading’s effects on the brain. Since the discovery, in the mid-nineties, of ‘mirror neurons’—neurons that fire in our brains both when we perform an action ourselves and when we see an action performed by someone else—the neuroscience of empathy has become clearer. A 2011 study published in the Annual Review of Psychology, based on analysis of fMRI brain scans of participants, showed that, when people read about an experience, they display stimulation within the same neurological regions as when they go through that experience themselves.”

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2. Fusenews: In which I find the barest hint of an excuse to post a Rex Stout cover

  • I’ve been watching The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt recently.  So far the resident husband and I have only made it through two episodes, but I was pleased as punch when I learned that the plot twist in storyline #2 hinged on a Baby-Sitter’s Club novel.  Specifically Babysitter’s Club Mystery No. 12: Dawn and the Surfer Ghost.  Peter Lerangis, was this one of yours?  Here’s a breakdown of the book’s plot with a healthy dose of snark, in case you’re interested.
  • And now a subject that is near and dear to my heart: funny writers. Author Cheryl Blackford wrote a very good blog post on a comedic line-up of authors recently presented at The Tucson Festival of Books. Mac Barnett, Adam Rex, Jory John, Obert Skye, and Drew Daywalt were all there.  A good crew, no?  One small problem – we may be entering a new era where all-white male panels cannot exist without being called into question.  Indeed, I remember years ago when I attended an ALA Conference and went to see a “funny authors” panel.  As I recall, I was quite pleased to see the inclusion of Lisa Yee.  Here, Tucson didn’t quite get the memo.  The fault lies with the organizers and Cheryl has some incisive things to say about what message the attendees were getting.
  • Speaking of Adam Rex, he’s got this little old major feature film in theaters right now (Home).  Meanwhile in California, the Gallery Nucleus is doing an exhibition of Rex’s work.  Running from March 28th to April 19th, the art will be from the books The True Meaning of Smekday and Chu’s Day.  Get it while it’s hot!
  • Boy, Brain Pickings just knows its stuff.  There are plenty of aggregator sites out there that regurgitate the same old children’s stuff over and over again.  Brain Pickings actually writes their pieces and puts some thought into what they do.  Case in point, a recent piece on the best children’s books on death, grief, and mourning.  The choices are unusual, recent, and interesting.

Chomping at the bit to read the latest Lockwood & Company book by Jonathan Stroud?  It’s a mediocre salve but you may as well enjoy his homage to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  Mind you, I was an Hercule Poirot fan born and bred growing up, but I acknowledge that that Doyle has his place.  And don’t tell Stroud, but his books are FAR closer to the Nero Wolfe stories in terms of tone anyway.

Over at The Battle of the Books the fighting rages on.  We’ve lost so many good soldiers in this fight.  If you read only one decision, however, read Nathan Hale’s.  Future judges would do well to emulate his style.  Indeed, is there any other way to do it?

You may be one of the three individuals in the continental U.S. who has not seen Travis Jonker’s blog post on The Art of the Picture Book Barcode.  If you’re only just learning about it now, boy are you in for a treat.

“Really? Rosé?”

That one took some thought.

  • Daily Image:

And now, the last and greatest flashdrive you will ever own:

Could just be a librarian thing, but I think I’m right in saying it reeks of greatness.  Many thanks to Stephanie Whelan for the link.

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7 Comments on Fusenews: In which I find the barest hint of an excuse to post a Rex Stout cover, last added: 3/29/2015
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3. Rx for Gift-Shopping Woes: Books and Journals

At the risk of belaboring a subject, here is yet another reason why books make the best gifts. A recent article in Ode magazine states that,  “science is starting to prove what readers and writers have long known: Words can help us repair and revitalize our bodies as well as our minds.” As a result, bibliotherapy—the act of reading specific texts in response to particular situations or conditions—is becoming an increasingly popular treatment method among psychologists, physicians, librarians and teachers.

According to “Reading, Writing and Revelation: How the written word helps refresh body, mind and soul” by Ursula Sautter, reading and writing can alleviate any number of symptoms ranging from physical pain to emotional suffering, including depression, phobias and other anxiety disorders.  In one study cited, even “obese adolescent girls who read an age-appropriate novel about a teenager who discovers ‘improved health and self-efficacy’ lost weight more easily than those who didn’t read that novel.”

Among the reasons cited for the power of the written word is the fact that “when we immerse ourselves in a text, the words stimulate the production of mental images… This is in sharp contrast to visual media, in which the imagery is already provided, so requires less creative assembly by the viewer.”  Al Gore describes this phenomenon in his wonderful book The Assault on Reason: “The vividness experienced in the reading of words is automatically modulated by the constant activation of the reasoning centers of the brain. . . . By contrast, the visceral vividness portrayed on television has the capacity to trigger instinctual responses similar to those triggered by reality itself—and without being modulated by logic, reason and reflective thought.”

Researchers have even concluded that reading contributes to our “cognitive reserve,” or the brain’s ability to protect itself and adapt to physical damage.  What’s more, since bibliotherapy is both effective and relatively inexpensive, some health systems are setting up “reading pharmacies.” In the U.K., for instance, the National Health Service endorses a “books on prescription” program, which allows doctors to prescribe self-help manuals to those seeking medical attention for mood disorders.

As one might suspect, writing is an equally powerful prescription for health.  In a sidebar article to the one on reading, entitled “Words That Heal,” David Servan Schreiber describes a clinical study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association which showed that writing can have a large impact on physical symptoms. Apparently, “patients who spent just 20 minutes a day for three days in a row writing about their problems felt better, took fewer drugs to relieve their symptoms and saw their doctors less often than those who relied on medication alone.”  In addition, recent brain research confirms that deliberately turning stressful images or memories into words can alter the way the experience is actually encoded in the brain.

So stock up on those gift books and journals this holiday season… You’ll be giving a more thoughtful and valuable gift than anyone on your list may realize!

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4. Reading Books For Your Life: Bibliotherapy Helps

Reading books that deal with the issues you’re going through—and talking or journaling about it afterward—can help you get things you need. You can find out you’re not alone; feel understood; discover new ways to work through a problem; or think about your situation in a new light. Books can help you understand yourself—or the people around you—more.

As you read a novel, you may find yourself identifying with a character, and as they work through a problem or express emotion, you may also be able to express or release emotion as well, or find a way to deal with your problem. When we read, we’re not just reading the words—we’re experiencing the story on many levels—emotionally, physically, even on sensory levels. We bring our own experiences to the story, and use them to help the novel become rich and real. And in doing that, books help us work through things.

If there’s an issue that you find hard to talk about, you can give a novel on the subject to someone you care about, and ask them to read it. I’ve had readers tell me they’ve done that with Scars, to help a friend or family member understand about self-harm or sexual abuse. I did it myself many times as a teen, giving books to people on incest when there were things I couldn’t say aloud. You can do it for any issue.

You can find many lists online that deal with all sorts of issues, from bullying to incest, divorce to estrangement, being queer or dealing with an illness. Try typing “bibliotherapy” plus whatever issue you’re wanting to read about in Google. You can also type in the issue into Amazon or other online bookstores, or ask your librarian for suggestions. There are so many great books out there. I also have a lot of books I recommend (found on the right-hand side of my blog, labeled “Cheryl Rainfield’s Recommended Books”, for a lot of issues, including self-harm, sexual abuse, physical abuse, being queer, dealing with death, and many more. They’re just a starting point, but they’re books I recommend.

I hope you’ll search out books that speak to you!

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5. Comments & letters like these two from readers are a HUGE part of why I write

Comments from readers like these two–by Miracle and Annie–are a HUGE part of why I write. It is incredible to hear that my books help people stay alive and get through hard times, or stop cutting and get help, or accept their queerness and come out to others! (beaming) Amazing and so feel-good to have my books help others survive and heal and stay alive–just the way my favorite books helped me. I’m not sure I could have survived the torture and abuse I did without books, so it feels like a gift to me that my books help others, too.

I feel I can share these two letters because they were made publicly. I receive letters like this often–and they fuel me. They are soul food. On my darkest days, they give me light.

So if you have a book that helped you through hard times, don’t hesitate to let the author know!

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6. To Drive The Cold Winter Away by Tess Berry-Hart

It's still winter! The bone-shaking chill of a new January with its winds, ice storms, broken healthy resolutions and humourless deadlines (tax payments, school applications, etc) can make even the bravest of us want to curl up in a cave next to a blazing fire and hibernate until spring arrives.

And to some of us who suffer from depression (episodes of persistent sadness or low mood, marked loss of interest and pleasure) either constant or intermittent, winter can be one of the hardest times. Depression being a multi-headed hydra ranging from many states of unipolar to bipolar, I'm not suggesting that there is one single type of depression; for instance not all of us are affected by the winter or weather, while some people who don't even have depression in the clinical sense might be experiencing a mild case of the winter blues, or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

Creativity is like a fire that we can stoke to drive away the cold winter (whether physical or psychological, internal or external). So I'm deep in my cave trying to work out ways that I can stoke my creativity without resorting to biscuits!

Bibliotherapy's been around for a while now, and is the literary prescription of books and poems against a range of "modern ailments" - including depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. A form of guided self-help, it's not exactly a new idea - the ancient Greeks spoke of "catharsis" - the process of purification or cleansing, in which the observer of a work of theatre could purge themselves of emotions such as pity and fear through watching and identifying with the characters in a play. All of us in the modern world can attest to the feeling of connection and joy when an author so precisely describes a state that we are ourselves experiencing, and the nail-biting, cliff-hanging state of knowing exactly what our heroine or hero is going through. We root for him or her because s/he represents ourselves battling our own demons in an idealised meta-state.

But how does bibliotherapy work? According to the various proponents, it helps perpetuate a shift in thinking, so that things are not so inflexible (black and white thinking, for all you cognitive-behavioural depressives out there!) which is crucial to tackling depression. Being able to gain distance and perspective by viewing problems through the lens of fictional characters means that in real life our fixed thought-patterns which contribute to our problems can start to become unpicked.

And of course, identification isn't the only joy to be found in books; good old-fashioned escapism is surely the reason why many of us read so avidly. A new world, a new family, a new life, perhaps even new biology or physics, takes us away momentarily from the mundane world so we can return refreshed, hopefully to see our lives with new eyes.

I've obviously been self-medicating for a long time, but I always called it comfort-reading. By comfort-reading I mean a well-known book that you can plunge into at will like a warm bath or a pair of slippers. At school when I was anxious about exams or bullies I would find solace in re-reading the heroic adventures of Biggles or the magical quest of Lord of the Rings; at university it was in the dreamy memories of Brideshead and the vicissitudes of Billy Liar or Lucky Jim. When I started my first office jobs I would read 1984 or Brave New World (odd choices for comfort-reads but I think it was to remind myself that things could actually be worse!) but when I started writing my own books, I ...er ... stopped reading for some years. I think my tiny little brain could only take so much exercise!

I started comfort-reading again when we first had our children; during long and frequently painful breast-feeding sessions my husband would read my childhood favourites Charlotte's Web and Danny the Champion Of The World to me as distraction and encouragement. And these days my prospective comfort list numbers hundreds of books; for me, reading is re-reading.

So what could I take to bolster myself against the winter chill? I've written myself a prescription but I'd be interested in hearing yours!

1) A dose of James Herriot's short animal stories, to be administered when needed (they are nice and short so you're not left hanging after a few pages) or chapters from Jerome K Jerome's Three Men In A Boat, or virtually anything by PG Wodehouse;

2) A daily dose of half an hour "joy-writing" - half an hour in the morning when I can sit down and let ideas spill out onto the page. (If it ends up with me writing about what happened last night then so be it. It can often lead to something more ...)

3) A small creative project on the horizon, easily identifiable and manageable, that I can look forward to; in this case getting a small group of actors together to read through a new draft of a play that I've written (there'll be a blog post on this soon so stay tuned!)

4) Connection with others - I'm a member of a local book group, which not only makes me keep on top of what new books are coming out, but also participating in the joy of discussion; there's nothing more frustrating than reading a good book only to realise that nobody you know has read it!)

So I think that's enough to start barricading myself up against the January snows!

But what about you? What kind of comfort-reads do you enjoy to drive the cold winter away?


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7. Interview with Elizabeth Schlenther about Bibliotherapy

Healthy BooksMark speaks with hospital librarian, author and bibliotherapist Elizabeth Schlenther about her Healthy Books website, an online bibliography of more than 1400 children’s books organized into 44 different categories of emotional, physical, social and mental health.

Healthybooks is hosted on the CILIP website by the Health Libraries Group.

Participate in the conversation by leaving a comment on this interview, or send an email to [email protected].

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8. The power of books to heal

I love hearing about stories where books have helped people. It’s inspiring–as both a reader and a writer. I know how much books–mostly novels–helped me survive my childhood. They are part of what helped keep me alive.

I know books have power. So it’s validating and uplifting to hear stories that confirm this.

Agent Kristen at Pub Rants talks about how a woman who suffered a stroke was helped by a novel her daughter read to her–a book written by a client of Kristen’s. Read the story here. It’s such a feel-good story, at least to me. And it reminds me of bibliotherapy.

Have books helped you, or someone you know? Do you have a story to share? Do share!

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9. Read to Succeed and Become Great at Anything

Danny Pettry headshotGuest blogger Danny Pettry is the author of Discover Hidden Secret Wisdom: A Recreational Therapist’s System on How You Can Become Great at Anything. In honor of the release of this book, Mr. Pettry has made a donation to First Book to provide new books to children in need.

“The book you don’t read won’t help you,” is a quote that was often said by the late legendary motivational speaker, Jim Rohn. Rohn’s quote is a key to personal growth and development. Great wisdom is hidden in books. However, a person must read books to discover their secrets.

Reading and writing are two of my favorite hobbies. Helping people is my life’s passion. Naturally, I felt the desire to write a book on how “reading books” can help a person to become self-fulfilled and successful in life.

Discover Hidden Secret Wisdom: A Recreational Therapist’s System on How You Can Become Great at Anything is a book that was designed for people who are seeking to find their way in life. Each of the 12 chapters is a prescription towards wellness, success, happiness and greatness. Readers can find this book to present a captivating approach to self-discovery. Many of the lessons in the book are based on my personal experiences as a recreational therapist for a children’s unit at a psychiatric hospital. I weaved together personal experiences and examples from a wide range of sources from self-help authors to scientific researchers. Bibliotherapy (the therapeutic use of books) is a technique that I use to help children with aggression problems to become more empathetic. We read children’s stories and have discussions about how each character felt during different parts of the story. We talk about safe and fair solutions that characters in the story could have taken. Learning to read promotes the child’s self-esteem and social skills, based on my personal experiences. I try to promote and encourage these children to become avid readers at a young age.

Discover Hidden Secret Wisdom is more than a book. It is mission to promote reading and literacy. There are a large number of people who’ll never read another book after high school. Many more will never read another book after college. An estimated 13 percent of adults in my home state of West Virginia didn’t have basic literacy skills in 2003, according to a report from the National Center for Education Statistics.

I decided to form a partnership and donate to First Book in honor of Discover Hidden Secret Wisdom because of their shared vision and mission to promote reading and literacy. I am always glad to hear about the wonderful things that First Book is doing to help provide books for children in need. I believe that avid reading should start during childhood.

Dr. Seuss said it best: “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

Have you read any good self-improvement books lately?

For more information about Discover Hidden Secret Wisdom, please click here.

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10. Books to help children in Haiti


Revision update: Almost done! Well, I’m about three quarters through. Maybe I can be done by the end of next week. Fingers crossed.

The images coming out of Haiti this past week have been sobering to say the least. Seeing the damage caused by a natural disaster like this makes us feel small and helpless. But that’s when the human spirit is at its best. Corporations are pledging millions in rebuilding donations. I read that George Clooney has signed up to host a telethon. And Facebook users are spreading the word about giving to organizations that are helping the people there.

Part of the problem in Haiti is the extreme poverty. I first learned about the situation there a few years ago when I was introduced to Mary’s Meals, an amazing organization that provides school meals to children in some of the poorest places around the world, including Haiti. The wonderful thing about Mary’s Meals is that they don’t just give food to families there, the organization gives school meals, so a child has to be in school to get the food. This gives families an incentive to send their children to school — which is also provided free — and the meals not only help the children stay healthy, they give the children an education, so that when those children grow up, they can help their entire community. It’s the old “teach a man to fish…” idea, and Mary’s Meals is making an enormous difference in these areas of the world.

Of course, a big part of the education these children get is through books. Yay, books! :)

Another organization is promoting the use of books and storytelling for psychological therapy. The International Board of Books for Young People’s Children in Crisis program started in Haiti last July. The program trains people in bibliotherapy, which uses reading to help children assimilate the difficulties they see in the world around them. Now, I imagine, Children in Crisis: Haiti will be very much needed.

Stories have been a way for children — and adults — to learn about their world since the cavemen were painting on walls. They will never go away, and they will always be needed.

Keep writing. Keep telling stories. And when you do, think about the children who could benefit, the ones who could change the world in the future.

And if you can, donate money, time or whatever you can to these organizations or others, not just for Haiti, but for the world.

Write On!

2 Comments on Books to help children in Haiti, last added: 1/18/2010
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