Being a parent is, of course, a beautiful experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything; that being said, there’s so much that my husband and I have had to give up since the arrival of our sweet baby boy, and that’s been rough. I miss sleeping, guilt free wine drinking, nights out, and getting cozy with a good book.
I miss reading, even more so since learning that there can be big benefits to experiencing the peaceful feeling that sets in when a book really hooks you and helps you let go for a few minutes. I first heard about book based therapy (bibliotherapy) on the Super Awesome Science Show podcast. During an episode all about sleep, the show’s host, Jason Tetro, interviews bibliotherapy practioner Kathryn Nicolai. Kathryn has her own Podcast, called Nothing Much Happens, which she created in order to share her own relaxing bed time stories with those who need help calming their minds before sleep.
What I learned from some bibliotherapy research, is that this form of treatment was likely first used to help WW1 soldiers ease their psychological trauma. Apparently, Librarians worked alongside nurses and doctors, providing books for soldiers in an effort to heal both their bodies and minds. A New Yorker article I came across, called Can Reading Make You Happier? outlines the history of bibliotherapy and its many mental health benefits. It is used today in a variety of forms, such as reading circles for dementia patients, literary courses for inmates, and as an aid for both adults and children who struggle to fall asleep.
Anyone who read my blog post about how we’re still dealing with sleepless nights 18 months into our son’s life, knows why info about sleep enhancement interests me. I learned a ton from the Kathryn Nicolai episode of The Super Awesome Science Show; for example, bibliotherapy can ease the chaos that sometimes comes with getting a kid to sleep, it can also reduce night waking, increase sleep duration, and decrease problem behaviours during awake hours.
I have seen first hand the positive effects that a good story can have on little ones. It always amazes me how quickly my students get calm and quiet once I start reading to them; and our son, since the age of about 4 months, has shown great interest in the words and images of his baby books. I am hoping this continues throughout his childhood, and that we will be able to rely on bibliotherapy if his sleep issues persist.
It seems we’re all hard-wired to appreciate stories, and the act of reading or being read to. I don’t need to look much further than Twitter’s #WritingCommunity to see how much human beings love to share stories with others. Whether you want to find cool indie authors to support, or gain advice to help with your own literary/ blogging journey, I recommend checking out some writer accounts. I so appreciate Emma Lombard and her blog, particularly her post about how Twitter can help new writers gain a following; I love the frequent, inspirational tips provided by A.G Letterman; and some of the smaller accounts I follow give me lots of motivation, like Jenni at Housewife Hustle, who just published a great post about the importance of hashtags and likes for those who want to drive traffic to their blog.
I will never forget the cozy feeling of being all tucked in at night and having mom or dad sit beside me to read a good story. Anne of Green Gables, Nancy Drew, and the Bobbsey Twins were more than fictional characters; they felt like friends; they provided me with comfort as well as entertainment. I am so grateful to have had adults in my life who may not have known the term, bibliotherapy, but who recognized and nurtured a love of books and story that I hope will be passed on to my son.