Annie Mouse Books

†††††††† Anne M. Slanina, Ph.D.

Bibliotherapy and Young Children


PLEASE NOTE: This article is the property of the author and may only be copied for personal use.  It may not be copied and reproduced for distribution without specific permission of the author.


The Literacy Dictionary (Harris & Hodges, 1995) defines bibliotherapy as "the use of selected writings to help the reader grow in self-awareness or solve personal problems"(p. 19). According to the Carnegie Libraryís "Kidsí Page," bibliotherapy for children entails "using childrenís books to solve emotional problems" (retrieved from the internet 02/20/05). Even the renowned Childrenís Hospital of the Cleveland Clinic for Rehabilitation utilizes bibliotherapy to "help children cope with life" and "promote emotional healing" (retrieved from the internet 02/20/2005). The purpose of this article is to explore a variety of issues that may disrupt the lives of young children and demonstrate how carefully selected childrenís literature can assist with their social and emotional development.


What We Know About Young Children

In order to understand how to help children develop both socially and emotionally, it is imperative to understand how childrenís thinking develops and how they process information.

Eggen & Kauchak (1997) explain that according to Piagetís stages of development the thought process of children between the ages of two and seven is governed by their perceptions. One aspect of this stage is egocentrism, which is defined as "the inability to interpret an event from someone elseís point of view" (p. 38). Another characteristic of this stage of development is "centration," which "is the tendency to focus on one perceptual aspect of an object or event to the exclusion of all others" (p. 38). It is not until adolescence that children enter the stage of "formal operations" when they begin to be able to think about problems abstractly.


How Books Could Help

Even though young children are egotistical, the empathy one young child will show for another child who is crying is frequently evidenced. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that we can present a story about a child experiencing a crisis and assume that the reader will be able to feel empathy for the affected child, and because of the egocentric nature of the child, will be able to personalize the story. Social and emotional development of young children can be enhanced if we carefully choose the literature presented to children in difficult situations and provide ample opportunity for discussion, allowing children to relate the situations to their own feelings.

Finally, all children will experience adversity of one kind or another at some point in their lives. If they have been presented with literature that addresses a variety of difficulties prior to having a crisis, they will be better equipped to cope when the need arises.


Below is a list of Childrenís Books to Use for Specific Issues


Abuse (Verbal and Physical)


Campbell, B. (2003). Sometimes my mommy gets angry. NY: Putnam.


Clifton, L. (2001). One of the problems of Everett Anderson. NY: Henry Holt.


Hopkins, B. (2000). My mom has a bad temper. Washington, DC: Child & Family Press.

Klassen, H. (1999). I donít want to go to Justinís house anymore. Washington, DC: Childe & Family Press.


Slanina, A. (2008). Annie Mouse meets her guardian angel, revised text. Harrisville, PA: Annie Mouse Books.

†††††††††††† †††††† (Original text ©2004 Philadelphia: Xlibris.)




Guiding Social and Emotional Growth of Young Children Through Bibliotherapy

Copyright ©2010 by Anne M. Slanina, Ph.D