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Practically Paradise
Inside Practically Paradise

School Counselors & Bibliotherapy

Steve Barancik at Best Children’s Books states "the number one meaning of the word the use of books to help children experiencing difficult times." He has combed the lists of best books to compile his own lists on these topics:

  • alcoholism and drug abuse
  • bullying
  • death and dying
  • disabilities and handicaps
  • divorce, separation and stepfamilies

Dr. Mac  (Tom McIntyre, Ph.D Department of Special Education Hunter College of CUNY) maintains the website, has written a bibliotherapy page that I use extensively, and has published a book for kids (though teachers, counselors, and parents can read it with them) called The Behavior Survival Guide for Kids: How to Make Good Choices and Stay Out of Trouble

Dr. Mac states "the purpose behind the use of bibliotherapy; to assist a youngster in overcoming the emotional turmoil related to a real-life problem by having him/her read literature on that topic.  This story can then serve as a springboard for discussion and possible resolution of that dilemma."

Cheryl Tyler, School Counselor at my school agreed to add insight to this blog and writes:

I am all about bringing in books and current events into my lessons. Sometimes it’s better to read a story about Janie Sue’s mother who is sad all the time as an intro into discussion. It helps the child to open up to know "someone else" has the same problem. For most elementary kids, the people in the story are real people.

As well ,several years ago I worked with a child whose whole family was into gangs. I spent a long classroom session reading Stanley "Tookie" Williams books about gangs. The child was struck and at least tried to stop being part of the gangs for the rest of the year.

I also keep very current with my information about television shows the kids like, who they idolize as well as issues surrounding that person. For example girls with a potential body-image problem might only hear that "Britney Spears looked fat" when in reality Britney looked great for a woman who had two children in two years.  The school counselor has to be able to relate. That means the best players in sports as well as knowing who Hannah Montana and Raven Baxter are, and that a "naked mole rat" is a character in Kim Possible. When a child says he’s waiting for Halo 3, the counselor needs to know what it means.

That is all possible with a close connection to the school librarian who can become the second set of eyes and ears for what’s in and who is reading what. The school librarian can look out for issues and information to assist the counselor.

Last year Diane found a book about a bipolar parent. This is an excellent resource for children who can’t understand why Mom or Dad can’t get their "act together".

Thanks, Cheryl! You have an awesome knowledge of strategies and techniques to help our students. I hope we school librarians can keep providing the resources and connections for guidance counselors everywhere.

Two publishing companies I utilize are:

Please share here other companies, authors, and titles you use.



    Thank you, Cheryl and Diane.

    You’ve helped me find a resource for which I’ve been searching for years.

    Elementary teacher-librarians can use Banancik’s bibliographies to support the work of school counselors.