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Bibliotherapy: Wellness in Picture Books

Guide Details

“Bibliotherapy provides an opportunity for those who love literature to use it as a vehicle for helping children and adolescents to deal with the problems of everyday living." - Doll


This guide is designed to provide a comprehensive list of picture books that can be used bibliotherapeutically to introduce young readers to concepts of wellness. Recommended books are intended for reading levels PreK - Gr. 3 and are all available in the Youth Collection. Each page presents information and book lists for each of the six concepts of holistic wellness: Spiritual Wellness, Emotional Wellness, Intellectual Wellness, Occupational Wellness, Physical Wellness, and Social Wellness. It's important to note that some books may pertain to multiple concepts. However, for the purpose of this guide, books have only been listed once. Have a look around, and if you have any further book or content suggestions, please email


This LibGuide was created in Spring 2019 by Youth Collection Graduate Assistant, Sarah Nelson. Sarah is a Master of School Counseling student with special interests in child development and wellness. 


“Bibliotherapy is designed to help individuals solve problems and better understand themselves through reading,” (Vernon, 2009, p. 86). Used by educators and parents, Developmental bibliotherapy can facilitate personal growth and help young people cope with life's everyday challenges and transitions. Clinical bibliotherapy is a targeted intervention used by mental health professionals to address specific emotional and/or behavioral concerns; it is not an absolute cure for psychological difficulties. Both forms of bibliotherapy have their place (Please see Additional Resources for more information on implementation in the home, classroom, and clinical setting) and can be helpful when working with children and adolescents. While young people may not always be able to articulate their thoughts and emotions, through personal identification with literary themes and characters, they can experience catharsis and develop insight to create meaning from their experiences. The process of bibliotherapy requires more than just handing a book to a child, however. Foremost, books need to be critically reviewed beforehand to determine appropriateness.

Facilitators should question:

- Grade/Interest Level

- Presentation of Characters

- Context

- Illustrations

- Author's Message

Additionally, following a reading, further discussion with the child is necessary. Whether that be in the form of an open conversation between child and caregiver or a classroom lesson plan leaning on expressive follow-up activities such as drawing, creative writing, or role-plays, the purpose of sharing the book and the message behind the story need to be reinforced to have influential power (Rozalski, Stewart, & Miller, 2010). One way to introduce bibliotherapy into the home or classroom is through exploring concepts of wellness. When combined with intentional exploratory discussion, incorporating dimensions of wellness into children's vocabulary has been shown to enhance healthy development (Montgomery & Maunders, 2015; Vernon, 2009).


A Child's Path to Wellness [Digital image]. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Doll, B., & Doll, Carol Ann. (1997). Bibliotherapy with young people: Librarians and mental health professionals working together. Englewood, Colo.: Libraries Unlimited.

Montgomery, P., & Maunders, K. (2015). The effectiveness of creative bibliotherapy for internalizing, externalizing, and prosocial behaviors in children: A systematic review. Children and Youth Services Review, 55, 37-47. doi:10.1016/j.childyouth.2015.05.010

Rozalski, M., Stewart, A., & Miller, J. (2010). Bibliotherapy: Helping children cope with life's challenges. Kappa Delta Pi Record, 47(1), 33-37. doi:10.1080/00228958.2010.10516558

Vernon, A. (2009). Counseling children and adolescents (4th ed.). Love Publishing.