Bibliotherapy for kids
When my daughter started having bad dreams, I scoured the Internet, book stores, and library for books to help her. My librarian had a few suggestions, but the titles they showed me were more likely to scare her than help her. Since then, every time she’s had a struggle I’ve looked to picture books to comfort her. A lot of other moms do this too: we turn to simple narratives to explore friendship, bullying, kindness, even very serious topics like death. Who knew this thing has a name? Bibliotherapy is using books for therapeutic purposes.
Since kids books aren’t categorized the way adult books are, I find it very difficult to search for picture books by topic. That’s why I created my personal book database. I’ve asked moms, therapists, authors, and scoured my own shelves for the best books on every topic kids deal with. You can access the database by visiting LoriFettner.com and clicking “Kids Book Database” in the top navigation. Here are some of my favorites:
TOPIC: BEDTIME TROUBLE
Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney
You’ll see a lot of Llama Llama books in the database, and this is one of my favorites. You would never know it from the title (which is why kid’s books are so hard to find by topic) but this book is great for teaching your kids to stay the heck in bed after you tuck them in. Llama Llama calls for his mama, but she’s busy and doesn’t come in right away. His cries get louder and more frantic until Mama finally goes to him and basically says chill out, Mama loves you but is busy sometimes.
Mean Jean the Recess Queen by Alexis O’Neill
I had a difficult time curating the bullying section of the database because I am not sure of the best way to handle bullies. Should children try to work it out themselves or go to an adult? Should they stand up to the bully, try to be their friend, or avoid them? I have 3 books in this section. They are all books my daughter and I love, and they each handle the bully situation differently.
Whether you agree or disagree with how the bully is handled, each of these books can be a conversation starter with your child about what you feel is the best strategy. What I like about Mean Jean is how a new girl to the class has the confidence to stand up to the bully and become her friend. Being a new kid can be tough, so I enjoyed having this one become the hero. This is one of those special stories that kids love without even realizing there is a greater purpose.
TOPIC: FRIENDSHIP ISSUES
My New Friend Is so Fun!, an Elephant and Piggie book by Mo Willems
Mo Willems is my favorite modern children’s author. Unlike most of the books in this database, his books are generally fun reads that don’t set out to teach. My daughter struggles playing in groups of threes. If her “bestie” is playing with another friend, my daughter will shy away and get upset, thinking that she’s been left for someone else. I try to make her realize that her friend can play with someone else and still be her friend. That is the scenario in this book. Gerald fears the worst when Piggie makes a new friend; but in the end, he realizes Piggie still cares so much about him.
TOPIC: LOVING NATURE
Dandelions: Stars in the Grass by Mia Posada
A lot of people don’t know that those white puffy flowers that kids love to blow are the same as those yellow weeds: both are dandelions. I love when books teach us and are also fun to read.
The database is a living document, and I’ll continue to add to it as I come across more great books. Check it out at lorifettner.com where you can also see my brand-new picture book, Goodbye Bad Dreams. This book is therapist approved for helping kids overcome their bad dreams in a fun way, and has an interesting, never been done before, art element. Order now at the discounted price of $5.99 in time for your kids to have something new to keep them busy over spring break!
Thanks, Lori! Her database topics include starting school, new baby, potty training, losing a tooth, hitting, adoption, boy stuff, girl stuff, moving, friendship issues, empathy, feelings, bedtime trouble, tricky people, divorce, death, perseverance, embracing differences, loving nature, holidays, and more! What a great resource!
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