IBBY-Yamada 2009: India

Workshop on book therapy

For many years the Indian Section of IBBY has promoted reading among traumatized children in hospitals and schools, in particular in the regions struck by severe natural disasters.  The 2008 terrorist violence in Mumbai added a significantly new dimension to the work.  Insecurity, depression, anger and fear gripped society throughout the country, including the children.  Schools were expected to handle this new aspect with expertise and an understanding of the psychological potential of reading children’s books.  Therefore, the section organized workshops to help instil a hope for peace amongst children, by training their parents, teachers, librarians, and others in the use of books and stories.  They instructed the participants in the positive impact that Book-Therapy can have and in its application.

The workshop included the following elements:

  • Creating awareness about Book-Therapy
  • Understanding of traumas
  • Application and benefits of Book-Therapy
  • Training personnel to apply Book-Therapy
  • Preparing modules for the healing process through books
  • Use of specially prepared book-lists.

Two workshops were held in February and May 2009.  The idea of Book Therapy created much interest and attracted many participants.  Doctors, university lecturers, school principals, publishers, career counsellors, social workers and students of teacher education and child counselling attended the workshops.  There were presentations about the traumas children face in life, the psychological undercurrents of book therapy, impressions of existing literature for children in four Indian languages as well as a session that showed how the application of book-therapy could help the traumatised with an emotional catharsis and re-building hope.

As a positive outcome of the workshop the IndianBBY has strengthened its reading sessions at the AWIC Children's Libraries and AWIC Reading Centres.  The workshops highlighted many books suitable for use in therapeutic practices in Indian languages. An annotated catalogue for book therapy was produced following the workshops.  An exhibition of books was also organized and many of the participants have become actively involved in the project.