I’m continuing the creative bibliotherapy series with part 2 and sharing a few books that I like that address interpersonal relationships and coping with strong feelings. (Missed part 1? Be sure to check in out for a selection of books about emotions.)
1. How Full is Your Bucket? For Kids, written by Tom Rath and Mary Reckmeyer, illustrated by Maurie J. Manning
This book is a classic and kids are often introduced by school to this book and the idea of being a “bucket filler.” The main character learns to see the invisible bucket that he and everyone around him has (representing how good someone feels) and learns how our actions affect how full the bucket is. It’s a great way to help kids be more thoughtful about how their actions and different events impact their own emotions and self-esteem, as well as those of the people around them.
Art Directive – Create a bucket by drawing one on paper, cutting out of paper, decorating a cup, or folding an origami paper cup. Then use drawn or cut paper drops to illustrate the child’s bucket being filled (positive things) or emptied (upsetting things). As a take home activity, you can have the child fill in their drops during the week to keep track of examples that happened. (This book and activity were first shared in the post “How Full is Your Bucket?“)
2. What Should Danny Do? (The Power to Choose Series), written by Ganit and Adir Levy, illustrated by Mat Sadler
In this “choose your own adventure” style book the main character of the book imagines himself as a superhero with “the power to choose.” As you read the book together, the child chooses how the character will handle different situations, leading to different outcomes. The book empowers kids to take responsibility for the choices that they make in various situations.
Art Directive – Decorate your own superhero cape to reinforce your own “power to choose.” You can find many templates online that allow kids to color in and design their own superhero cape (For my group, I edited one to have the phrase “I have the power to choose!”), or use fabric and paint to create an actual cape together.
3. The Rabbit Listened, by Cori Doerfeld
This book was recommended by a blog reader (thanks, Jess!) In the story various animals try to help the little boy, representing all the ways people try to “help” when someone is upset. But, of course, what the little boy really needs is someone who just listens. I think this book would be especially great to use in a parent-child session to help parents be more aware of the power of supportive listening.
Art Directive – Have parent and child make a rabbit together to remind them to work on talking and listening through a problem. They can draw, paint, or use clay depending on the preference.
4. Splatter, written and illustrated by Diane Alber
This book teaches that value of cooperation and working together. The individual paint colors learn that they can create something better together than what you can do on their own.
Art Directive – This book would be great to lead into a group or family joint art activity. Start with just a couple of colors of paint, then have the group combine a few to create new colors. Then everyone gets one color and works together to create a joint painting. If you have the space to allow for some mess, encourage it to be a splatter painting! (Remember to be thoughtful about how much support and guidance your group/family need in order to work together successfully. Allow time to pause and intervene or to process afterwards as needed.)
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More creative bibliotherapy books and recommendations will be coming in the next few months. Do you have a favorite bibliotherapy book that you want to recommend? Send me an email or comment below.
Carolyn Mehlomakulu, LMFT-S, ATR-BC is an art therapist in Austin, Texas who works with children, teens, and families. For more information about telehealth and online therapy, individual therapy, child and teen counseling, and art therapy services, please visit: www.therapywithcarolyn.com. Carolyn is also the author of The Balanced Mind – A Mental Health Journal, a guided journal that combines writing and art prompts to support your mental health.
This blog post contains affiliate links and I earn a small commission for your purchases. This blog is not intended to diagnose or treat any mental health conditions. All directives, interventions, and ideas should be used by qualified individuals within the appropriate bounds of their education, training, and scope of practice. Information presented in this blog does not replace professional training in child and family therapy, art therapy, or play therapy. Art therapy requires a trained art therapist.