Although the authors initially fail to distinguish between clinical and developmental bibliotherapy, they do go on to discuss the difference between serious problems and those that are appropriate for classroom intervention. Sound suggestions are offered for identifying appropriate reading selections and planning lessons, and the article closes with an excellent list of the benefits of developmental bibliotherapy.
"This author offers a wonderful description of the identification stage of developmental bibliotherapy: “Reading fiction makes me lose all sense of self, but at the same time makes me feel most uniquely myself.” The long-term goal of incorporating bibliotherapy into classroom instruction is to provide students with this tool for lifelong self-understanding and growth. The article also presents several surprising recent scientific findings regarding the benefits of bibliotherapy."
"It should be noted at this point that adding literature intended for developmental bibliotherapy into the middle school teacher’s already-busy schedules is something of a tall order. However, teachers who understand the process and the benefits of this approach can search for the places in the curriculum where important text-to-self connections can be made, and then to guide students to make these connections—these identifications.
"Ms. Trupp has assembled over 200 titles recommended by middle school teachers for developmental bibliotherapy. This could be a great starting point for finding connection points between bibliotherapy and the existing curriculum. Note that the list includes not only fiction, but biographies, autobiographies, and other works of nonfiction. Even one chapter incorporated in a unit of study as developmental bibliography can be a powerful addition to a class in any subject area. "
"Note the 4 stages of bibliotherapy outlined here: 1) identification—in which the reader recognizes that a character is experiencing something that is relatable; 2) catharsis (sometimes referred to as “release”)—in which the reader feels something of what the character is feeling; 3) insight—in which the reader realizes some aspects of the character’s solutions to a problem might be personally useful; and 4) application—in which the reader considers possible ways to use the character's solution.
"This article is provided for a quick skim-through to fill in the context of how elementary teachers use developmental bibliotherapy. The author makes an important point in the introduction: lots of elementary teachers use developmental bibliotherapy without knowing that it is a longstanding research-based concept backed by a rich array of resources. The list of topics used to categorize the children’s books that are recommended at the end of the article can be an eye-opener.
"Bibliotherapy is the purposeful use of a piece of literature with a person who is dealing with an issue that a character in a story is facing." This video points out the important difference between clinical uses of bibliotherapy for serious issues, and developmental uses for the normal issues that everyone faces. Other experts have noted that clinical bibliography is recuperative, while developmental bibliography is preventative.
Once a piece of literature has been identified and assigned, teacher-directed and small group discussions should focus on the elements of bibliotherapy: identification with the character’s situation; catharsis, or release when an issue is resolved; and insight into the readers’ own lives and situations. The Making Connections technique described at ReadWriteThink.org is a great place to start. Don’t miss the downloadable posters.