Monday, July 6, 2009

"Field Notes: What Ails Bibliotherapy?" by Maeve Visser Knoth

It's cool to serendipitously find a kindred spirit --and a joy to find a simpatico thinker who articulates perfectly what you've been thinking but didn't have the eloquence to put on paper (or a blog post).

That's how I felt recently when I discovered Maeve Visser Knoth's article, "Field Notes: What Ails Bibliotherapy?" (May/June 2006, The Horn Book Magazine)

Here are the highlights that are most significant and meaningful for me. All quotes are from the above-linked article by Maeve Visser Knoth (bolded sections are mine):

"Mention the word bibliotherapy, and children's librarians and booksellers have similar tales to tell. The stories go something like this: a well-intentioned parent comes in and asks for a book about death. . .The parent is looking for a book that exactly mirror her own life.

"Teachers also, with the very best of intentions, search for books that will address the emotional lives of the children in their care. . .

"The more I think about my aversion to this type of bibliotherapy, the more I define my own approach to children and books as 'advance' bibliotherapy. Rather than address what is happening in the present, I am inclined to prepare children for emotional experiences before they occur. . .

"I don't have reams of research to back up my approach to reading, but I do have years of observations from working with children in the library and in classrooms and, more personally, some experiences from my own life as a reader and the lives of my children. . ."

In describing how she found comfort from Madeleine L'Engle's A Ring of Endless Light, Ms. Knoth writes, "I am not even sure that I remembered the book correctly, but that did not matter. I took what I needed from the novel and applied it to the events in my life."

"I also make a point of reading about the 'hard' stuff long before my children might need the emotional information. . .Sharing emotionally complex books before a difficult experience occurs may give children the ability to practice their own personal bibliotherapy."

Click this link to visit Maeve Visser Knoth's blog.

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