Books are the most trusted and loyal friends you can even have. “
Reading books is a great pas- sion and I want to highlight the benefits of reading good books and its effect on our mental health. Studies show reading as a form of therapy to be useful in the treatment of depression, mild alcohol abuse, anxiety, eating dis- orders, and communication issues. Most professionals agree reading is a productive activity that can promote good mental health, as reading has been shown to increase empa- thy, sharpen the mind, and impact behavior.
I am a passionate book reader as well. I got an opportunity to talk to Dr. Rajwant Singh Chilana (Retired Librarian UBC) on Biblio-therapy. He is director of publishing and owner of India Book World (Surrey). He told me how read- ing can change the mental health of a person and even- tually change a person’s life as well. He mentioned an ex- periment was done on some patients in a hospital, where a set of patients were given positive books to read in their beds along with medicines and another set of patients were only given medicines. After a few days it was found that patients reading book during their treatment got well quickly. A similar study found children who read the Harry Potter series were more accepting of certain minority groups, and improved their overall ability to discern and interpret emotion in others.
Bibliotherapy generally refers to the use of literature to help people cope with emotional problems, mental illness, changes in their lives or to produce effective change and promote personality develop- ment. By providing literature relevant to their personal situations and developmental needs at appropriate times, biblio-therapy practitioners attempt to help people of all ages to understand them- selves and to cope with problems such as separation, divorce, child abuse, foster care, and adoption. An experi- enced practitioner can identify the set of books that can put their finger on feelings that you may often have had but perhaps never understood so clearly before; books open new perspectives and re-en- chant the world for you.
Lost in the pages
Storytelling, creative writing, and reading have long been recognized for their thera- peutic potential. The use of literature as a healing method dates back to ancient Greece, when Grecian libraries were seen as sacred places with curative power. During World Wars I and II, bibliotherapy was used to help returning soldiers deal with both physi- cal and emotional concerns.
Historically, bibliotherapy dates back to the 1930s when librarians began compiling lists of written material that helped individuals modify their thoughts, feelings, or behaviors for therapeutic pur- poses. Counselors worked in conjunction with librarians to “prescribe” selected literature for clients experiencing prob- lems. The underlying premise of biblio-therapy is that clients identify with literary charac- ters similar to themselves, an association that helps the clients release emotions, gain new directions in life, and ex- plore new ways of interacting. Teenage readers, for example, may feel relief that they are not the only ones facing a specific problem. They learn vicariously how to solve their problems by reflecting on how the characters in the book solve theirs.
About Dreamers Book Club
Since we know now that Biblio-therapy is a therapeutic approach that uses litera- ture to support good mental health, is a versatile and cost- effective treatment option and is often adapted or used to supplement other types of therapy. I highly recom- mend readers of this article to engage in reading. In order to promote reading habits in kids, I have started an initia- tive about 2 years ago, I called it Dreamers Book club. I invite people to borrow good books from me and return it after reading it. So, far I know more than 50 families those bor- rowed books from us and I am excited to share that some of kids are also contributing to this book club. In the future Dr. Chilana and I are planning to start the concept of ‘Mobile Library’, where we will carry a van full of books to various gatherings in Surrey and its neighbouring communities. We need public support for this project.
So, I highly encourage parents to step forward to inculcate reading habits in kids so that we have smart future gen- erations. That is why it is said that “Readers are Leaders”.