Reading aloud to children in hospital. Bibliotherapy as a community builder

SELIN, Eva and GRAUBE, Karin (2017) Reading aloud to children in hospital. Bibliotherapy as a community builder. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2017 – Wrocław, Poland – Libraries. Solidarity. Society. in Session 138 - Literacy and Reading, Libraries for Children and Young Adults, Public Libraries and School Libraries.

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Language: English (Original)
Available under licence Creative Commons Attribution.


Reading aloud to children in hospital. Bibliotherapy as a community builder

The previously passive hospital librarian now plays a practical, visible part as the book trolley is put away. Isolated children ages 1 to 18 are offered Reading Club, which evolves through reading aloud and attending to illustrations. Books of quality are used. The activity contains one librarian and one child meeting during the treatment period. A session lasts for about an hour which allows for conversation space. Aaron Antonovsky’s Sense of Coherence (SoC) provides the theoretical framework. Action research contains self-monitoring and analyzing and congruence is important. Patients and parents views are documented and the librarian does not ask or comment on medical status, but listens and follows the child’s communication. An equal relationship is sought. Hence SoC appears to enhance the establishment of relationships and the development of comprehension skills. While protected, participants also develop a clearer sense of self as individuals through thinking and talking. Reading Club is also offered to the weakest patients. Listening is about belonging and taking part and meaningfulness and motivation is found in fantasy which reading promotes, as inner images are created that build hope for a healthy future. Hope strengthens motivation, which is important in every human life. Reading Club children often expect a continuation of the service which suggests that the Club constitutes a meaningful element for children during a hospital stay. A children’s hospital is a small and often forgotten place but a part of society. Reading Club helps to develop the lifetime habit reading books for pleasure. The practical experiences provided by ReadingClub develop literacy skills that are continued after children leave the hospital. This paper focuses on patients’ reaction to Reading Club as a bibliotherapeutic activity and demostrates what reading projects can do for society. Such services are a crossover into a new library era which is deeper and more aimed at certain sections of society. The hospital librarian, previously a symbol for reading, has transformed into a practical doer.

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