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Using Bibliotherapy - A Lesson Plan

A practical example of a bibliotherapy lesson plan. This lesson outlines my use in a Catholic school setting. It is easily adapted to other school settings.

Subject Area and Grade Level: Literature, 6-9th Grades

Title/Topic of Lesson: Book: The Friendship by Mildred D. Taylor. Max Ginsburg (Illustrator) New York: Puffin. ISBN: 0140389644

Length of Lesson: Three-Four 30 minute periods

Objectives of the Lesson: This age group has entered a period in their lives when peer pressure is overwhelming. Expectations of whom they are and how they are to act change from situation to situation. Family expectations may demand one set of behaviors while peers' demand another. How do they learn to reconcile these expectations and become their own person and make their own decisions is essential to their development? How do they live out these challenges in light of the Catholic Christian teachings?

Pedagogy/Teaching Strategies: Part of the power of the story is its brevity (56 pages). The actions take place quickly. People act and react in ways that change lives forever.

Prior to reading the book we make a list of best friends that the students had in fourth grade. We discuss whether or not they are still best friends. Why? Why not? What changed?

After we read the book I lead the students through a menu of questions that flow from recollection of facts to application in their own lives.

Assessment: The students generally enjoy talking about the book and what they would do. Do the students have a concept of the group mentality? They are often embarrassed about things they may have done wrong while with a group. Have the students explored their feelings and ideas about the challenges of peer pressure, friendship, and prejudice? How "deep" are the responses? Did the students do the majority of talking? Were they able to apply the situation in the story to contemporary society or did they relegate it to the past? Did they offer practical suggestions to protecting the rights of others, or did they offer answers they thought were expected?

The first two articles in this series are:
Bibliotherapy: Literature and Youth, and
How to Plan for Bibliotherapy

Do you use bibliotherapy? Do you actively plan for bibliotherapy or does it come naturally in your class discussions? Let us know at the Library Forum.

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