A Bibliotherapy Service for Children

Via Time Out Bengaluru

For some weeks, 12-year-old Ravi [name changed on request] had been unusually tense, preoccupied and withdrawn from his friends. Concerned, his parents spoke to Sneha Caroline, manager at Hippocampus Children’s Experience Centre at Koramangala. Caroline suggested that Ravi read Katheryn Cave’s book You’ve Got Dragons, a fantasy tale about a boy whose fears manifest as dragons and how he learns to live with them. “After reading the book, Ravi opened up to his parents that exam fears were worrying him,” said Caroline, adding that thereafter the child found it easier to talk to his parents about school. Such requests often come to the staff at Hippocampus. Parents ask their advice on how they can talk to their children about difficult subjects, and come looking for a book on that particular issue.
After many such requests, Caroline and Hippocampus founding director Vimala Malhotra created a list of bibliotherapy-related books in December last year. These books address issues that trouble children – dealing with parents who are separating, the birth of a new sibling, the death of a pet, puberty or loneliness. Their advice to parents is to share a book with their child and allow them to read unsupervised. “Bibliotherapy, as a concept, is something we’ve recently started to explore. We’ve had a lot of parents asking us if there are any counsellors they could speak to. Though we have no counsellors, our attempt is to give, maybe not a solution, but some answers that can help address this requirement,” said Malhotra. 
While Hippocampus hasn’t made this service a separate programme yet, they hope it will evolve into one. “There are many issues that can at least be introduced to children through books and, though the programme is in its infancy, it’s generating a lot of curiosity already,” said Malhotra, adding that while bibliotherapy can serve as a guideline to helping children through trying times, it cannot be a substitute for a professional psychiatrist or address psychological issues.


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