Thursday, May 19, 2016

MENTAL HEALTH MONTH: Bibliotherapy for Children by Tif from Tif Talks Books and BBI.

Today, let's welcome Tiffrom Tif Talks Books. She is here to talk to us about bibliotherapy for children

Bibliotherapy is the use of books and reading as a form of therapy. As many avid readers already know, books can be a great place to escape when we are dealing with difficult times. Even when we are not struggling through something, it can be so healing and normalizing to readers to find a character that we can so closely relate to. It truly helps us to realize that we are not alone in this chaotic world.

Last year, I made the difficult decision to leave my career in higher education and return to my original training as a school counselor in elementary education. And, one of the most exciting aspects for me when making the switch was the opportunity to use books in my work with children on a regular basis. I now get to work with children in the classroom, in small groups, and individually, and books make frequent visits. We get to read books together. We get to share in the joy of reading a story together. Then, we get to talk through it and sometimes bridge those subjects that are sometimes hard to talk about. We get to explore situations together, realize that maybe a student is not alone in experiencing a specific situation or problem, and then get to talk about how it looks or feels for his/her specific situation. Books can be that amazing “AHA” moment!

What are some of these books that I use? Let me share some of my favorites or ones that I frequently use.

Julia Cook: This is not a book, but an author, and I adore her books! She takes on a wide range of topics from small to large issues, and she does it with humor and grace and she relates it to children of so many ages. I have not yet had the opportunity to explore all of her titles, but I do have a few that I already have used multiple times.

A Bad Case of Tattle Tongue explores the difference between tattling versus reporting. I primarily use this book for the sole purpose of discussing the difference between the two main concerns of the book, but it also is a great book to use hand-in-hand when talking about much more difficult conversations.

The Tease Monster tackles the hard conversation about teasing, the good and the bad. It’s a great way to start conversations with kids about how we tease, why we tease, and what can be the result of it. The old saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is still floating around on the playgrounds, and it is a good conversation to have that words actually can and do hurt.

It’s Hard To Be A Verb follows a child around that just cannot sit still. This book is fabulous for those kids that are constantly moving! It shows not only how one child’s actions affects the child, but also how the actions affect others around him. Then, it proceeds by sharing some practical ideas of how to deal with all that moving! 

The Crayon Box That Talked by Shane Derolf is one of my new favorites. If you have a child that doesn’t know where he fits in this world, this may be the book for him. At the beginning of the book, the crayons are bickering about each other, but by the end they each realize that they have their own purpose. I always like to finish this book with the question, “What makes you amazing? How do you complete the picture?” Children have a difficult time answering this question, but I think it is important to know that they all have something to offer this world!

Dinosaurs Divorce by Laurene Brown tackles the more difficult conversation with kids about their parents divorcing. This book can be very overwhelming as a whole, so I frequently take this one in stages.

Little Skink’s Tale by Janet Halfmann is another one of my all-time favorite books! It’s a fabulous story that can be used for a variety of purposes from science to predictions and more. My favorite use, however, is talking about how we need to be comfortable in our own skins, or in this case, tails. 

There are so many other books that I use on a regular basis when working with kids. I leave you with a short list of more titles that you can find on my shelves . . .

  • Simon’s Hook by Karen Gedig Burnett 
  • Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst 
  • How to Lose All Your Friends by Nancy Carlson 
  • Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes 
  • Hands Are Not For Hitting by Martine Agassi 

It is so heart-warming to see how well kids can relate to books in order to help aid them in their journey through life, and helps them to better understand and relate to the world in general. However, through my own journey of returning to my work with the younger kids, I also found a pretty amazing side effect. I found myself healing and experiencing positive side effects unexpectedly along the way. Who knew that reading books with children could not only help them, but us as well?!

What picture books, or books for children in general, have you found to be a good bridge to discussing issues in life, particularly those related to mental health issues?


  1. It is so heartwarming to know that my book Little Skink's Tail can help children deal with issues they are facing. Thanks for sharing this great list of books.

    1. Janet Halfmann ... You're welcome, and thank you for writing such a great book on so many levels!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.