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Using Books Therapeutically

Books are an amazing tool for learning, and we recommend that all families read books with their children from a young age. Research has found that children who are read to daily have been exposed to 290,000 more words by the time they are 5 years old than children who aren’t read to regularly! (Logan, 2019). In addition to the language and cognitive skill development opportunities reading offers, books can also be used as a therapeutic tool. 

 

Here at Kids That Go you will find that frequently during our occupational therapy sessions we will pull out a book to use! Read on to find out about ways that books can be used therapeutically. 

 

Teaching children about thoughts and feelings. 

Some books are specifically designed with this purpose in mind, or you can add this on to any book. We love using post it notes cut out into thought bubbles and hearts in picture books, so that we can then put these onto the characters. It allows us to stop and notice how a character may be feeling and what they are thinking. Using a flexible strategy like this allows us to work with your child by using the books and characters that your child enjoys.

 

Perspective taking skills. 

We can use books to compare and contrast how different characters may see a situation, and what information certain characters may have e.g. one character may not have seen the other hide something.

 

Emotional regulation. 

Depending on the age of your child, there are lots of wonderful books that have been written with a focus on teaching about specific emotions, e.g. anxiety and worries, anger and self-control, or bravery.

 

Exposure to new or challenging topics. 

If your child has a particular challenge area (e.g. toileting) we can use books as a way to provide low pressure exposure opportunities and allow us to discuss the topic in a factual and fun way.

 

Normalising. 

Books can help us to normalise a number of different topics, from allowing us to explore new ideas and perspectives to seeing ourselves and our uniqueness represented.

 

Inferencing/Predicting. 

When we read books, it gives us an opportunity to begin to make guesses and predictions about what might happen next. The skill of inferencing can help us to develop our problem solving and creative writing skills, and it can help us to see the big picture or underlying message in a story.

 

We hope you take inspiration from us and try out some of these strategies with your books at home. These strategies can be used for our early learners in picture books, all the way to more complex novels for teenagers. Don’t hesitate to ask your therapist for recommendations of books that may be beneficial for your child!

MEGAN WEST

Occupational Therapist.

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