Author Vince Vawter

"The book you don’t read won’t help." 

– Jim Rohn

This Spring my school welcomed author Vince Vawter for an author visit.  Vince's novel Paperboy is a powerful story about growing up in Memphis in the late 1950s.  The novel's protagonist "Little Man" wrestles with a serious stuttering condition.  I couldn't help but think how much this novel might help a child struggling with a disability.  Additionally, the story puts you into the mind of the little boy and provokes empathy for the battle against his own tongue.  Vince Vawter's novel is somewhat autobiographical and his struggle with speech drove him to write as a child on his very own typewriter, and then later to a long fulfilling career as a newspaper  journalist.

Author David Mitchell
Paul Stuart /Deckle Edge
Flash forward to this week  -- On the way to work I heard an excellent interview by Fresh Air's Sam Briger with author David Mitchell.  David Mitchell like Vince Vawter has a speech impediment causing him to stammer.  When asked about his stammer "It's this curse; it's this invisible doppelganger that's just out to wreck your life and destroy you and humiliate you and mortify you whenever it can. [That] is how you think about it and you view it as something you have to fight."

I write about these two authors as I further investigate the idea of bibliotherapy.  David Mitchell not only struggles with his own disability he also has a child with autism.  This is one of the reasons he gives for translating "The Reason I Jump", by Naoki Higashida, about a boy with autism.  David states "But as it happens, there was quite a useful overlap between Naoki's autism and our son's — that's reason one."

I believe that reading can have a therapeutic effect for those seeking specific help or solace.  This is why I am so interested in the study of bibliotherapy.  “Bibliotherapy is…a new science,” Bagster explains. “A book may be a stimulant or a sedative or an irritant or a soporific. The point is that it must do something to you, and you ought to know what it is. A book may be of the nature of a soothing syrup or it may be of the nature of a mustard plaster.” - Bagster quoted in a 1916 article in The Atlantic Monthly  and then again in June 2015 New Yorker.

For more on practical recommendations for YA bibliotherapy check out the SLJ blog by Karen Jensen "Teen Lit Toolbox."

Check out these links to articles about Bibliotherapy


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