UAEBBY organised a workshop on Bibliotherapy for Children in Hospitals
The UAE Board on Books for Young people (UAEBBY), with the support of Knowledge Without Borders, organised a workshop on Bibliotherapy, or the therapeutic use of books and reading with children in hospitals. The workshop was organised on the sidelines of the 1st International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) Conference for the Region of Central Asia and North Africa (CANA) and took place on the opening day of the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival on April 23rd.
Bibliotherapy is a technique that attempts to engage and connect patients with forms of writing and literature. It has been shown to be an effective method in the treatment of depression, especially in children. The workshop covered topics such as the importance of reading in hospitals, how to select reading material for children in hospitals, how to conduct an open discussion of different topics related to the child's condition, as well as a series of hands-on exercises.
Rashid Al Kous, Knowledge Without Borders Project Manager, commented, “The power that books have to positively impact those that come in contact with them can never be underestimated, which is why Knowledge Without Borders will continue to support workshops such as these that empower people to make a tangible difference in the lives of others through the wonder of the written word.”
The workshop was led by two eminent trainers; Sahar Tarhande and Hossein Sheykh Rezaee. Sahar Tarhande was born in Tehran in 1977. She graduated from Azad University of Tehran with a B.A. in Visual Communication & Graphic Design, and started her career as a graphic designer and research assistant with The Institute for Research on the History of Children’s Literature in Iran. She then moved to the U.K where completed her MA in Design: Multimedia and Graphics, from the University of Sunderland, and worked as an Art & Crafts tutor for Durham County Council, Education Department and Family Learning. She became a member of the Children’s Book Council (National section of IBBY) in 1997, and continues to work and do research in the field of children’s literature.
Speaking on the workshop, Sahar Tarhande said: “This therapy is very well known in the west, but we need to work hard to raise awareness about it in the region. There should be a necessity to have book reading in hospitals. We worked on practical skills such as how to select books and what the readers’ attitude should be”.
Hossein Sheykh Rezaee has a B.Sc. in Electrical Engineering from Sharif University of Technology. He went on to receive an M.A. in the Philosophy of Science. With a full scholarship from the Iranian Institute of Philosophy, he completed a PhD in Philosophy from Durham University, UK. He is now a faculty member of the science studies group in the Iranian Institute of Philosophy. He is a member of the Children's Book Council of Iran and has run several workshops and research groups with the CBC. He is especially interested in the subject of Philosophy for Children (P4C) and has done academic research in this field.
Rezaee commented: “The workshops were divided into two parts, a theoretical portion consisting of history, definition, and books as therapy, and a practical portion focusing on books as therapeutic devices. This therapy will help children develop critical skills in reasoning and comprehension. The next step is to apply these theoretical skills to kids in other challenging environments like schools, prisons, or factories”.
The workshop was attended by 15 participants, including volunteers and specialists working with ill children from the Sheikh Khalifa Medical City in Abu Dhabi, Friends of Cancer Patients in Sharjah, Latifa Hospital in Dubai and the Ministry of Health. Lebanese children's book author Samar Mahfouz Barraj and Hajar Al-Tarouti, owner of the Hekayat Qamar bookstore in Saudi Arabia also participated in the workshop, and there were visits by authors Fatima Sharafeddine and Yaacoub Sharouni.
The UAEBBY is the National Section of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY), which was established in Zurich, Switzerland in 1953 and is present in 77 countries around the world. It is a non-profit, non-governmental organization that represents an international network of individuals and institutions that are dedicated to promoting children's literature and the children's book industry, fostering a love of and respect for culture among children and young people in the world.