Using Bibliotherapy - A Lesson Plan

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.

  • Why weren't the Logan children supposed to go into the Wallace store? How did they feel about being there?
  • What upset Little Man? How did he feel? How would you feel if someone said this to you?
  • How did Cassie feel when Jeremy began talking to them?
  • How would you feel if you were one of the Logan children when Mr. Tom Bee and Mr. Wallace had their argument?
  • What advice would you give Mr. Tom Bee?
  • What would you do after Mr. Tom Bee was shot? Would you go to the police? Why? Why not?
  • What is friendship? Do you think Mr. Wallace and Mr. Tom Bee were ever really "friends"? What changed?
  • When have you been labeled as part of a group? How did that make you feel?
  • Have you ever been with a group that did something you didn't approve of?
  • When have you done something with a group that you wouldn't have done on your own? How did you feel about yourself afterwards?
  • Mr. Wallace referred to himself as a "Christian." In light of Galatians 3:28-"There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."--do you think this is true? Why do you think so?
  • The Catechism of the Catholic Church states (1935):

    The equality of men rests essentially on their dignity as persons and the Rights that flow from it:
    Every form of social or cultural discrimination in fundamental personal rights on the grounds of sex, race, color, social conditions, language, or religion must be curbed and eradicated as incompatible with God's design.

    How then are we to act to make certain that the rights of others are protected?

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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