Children’s Books in Various Therapies


The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (The Chronicles of Narnia) by C. S. Lewis

This is a classic book about four siblings who go through fantastic adventures in a fantasy wonder-world. While playing hide and seek, children discover a portal to the magical world of Narnia in an old wardrobe in the attic. Narnia is a place with talking animals, some of whom become children’s friends, who are under the evil enchantment of the White Witch. There is a battle between good and evil and a sacrifice to be made. One most remarkable feature of Narnia is that there are no adults there, excluding the White Witch and some other fairytale creatures because only children can enter this country. Eventually, one of the kids, Prince Caspian, stays in Narnia and becomes its king. This book is a perfect match for the CCPT since it presents the worlds without adults, where children are left on their own, and all their wishes and thoughts are real, which is one of the main ideas of the book’s author.

Object Relations and Attachment-Based Play Therapy

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

In this book, Alice falls into the Rabbit’s Hole, chasing the rabbit who is late for the tea party. She found herself in Wonderland, a place full of unusual creatures and changing circumstances. Alice tries to understand the logic of this strange and mysterious world, interacting directly with its objects and subjects, and each time her words and actions have a different result. This book will be a great partner in performing Object Relations and Attachment-Based Play Therapy. On the one hand, it perfectly illustrates the concept of the hierarchical and experience-dependent nature of neurodevelopment. On the other hand, it presents a rich, exciting world of fancy creatures who live in a world where the laws of physics, justice, logic, and relationships between characters are distorted to the point of absurdity. But, even though the whole world “goes crazy,” Alice manages to cope with difficulties. The book is a perfect metaphor for children who have suffered attachment trauma such as sexual abuse, neglect, exposure to caregiver drug use, or abandonment during the critical developmental window of their early years.

Adlerian Play Therapy

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

In this book, a hurricane takes Dorothy to a magical land, where she makes extraordinary friends like Tin Woodman, Cowardly Lion, and Scarecrow. With the help of the good sorceress Yuga Glinda, they must defeat the Wicked Witch. Glinda says the only way for Dorothy home is to follow the yellow brick road to the Emerald City where the great and powerful Wizard of Oz will help her. But as a result, it turns out that the wizard is not omnipotent, and Dorothy and her friends must overcome obstacles to return home. Adlerian Play Therapy is based on the concept of individual psychology, and in its process, the therapist assists children in developing and practicing new perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors. The therapist acts in some aspect like a Wizard of Oz, who can intervene in a personal manner to help the children solve their issues and reach the therapy goals. The book comprehensively demonstrates that every living being is unique and has its own exceptional story, problems, and challenges to overcome.

Jungian Analytical Play Therapy

Grimms’ Fairy Tales by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm

This book is a series of fairytales based on German folklore and full of the cruel, bloody, unfair, and unexplained events that the heroes of fairy tales encounter. Many people are familiar with such characters as the Gingerbread House Witch, who devoured children, or the Hunter, who had to rip out Snow White’s heart. The Brothers Grimm took such a gloomy pseudonym precisely because they wanted to represent the rich world of folklore stories. Jungian Analytical Play Therapy works with children’s dreams, which, according to Jung, reflect the parents’ psychopathology. This therapy helps the child to afford sufficient space in an emotionally protected environment, where personal development (individuation) materializes. Individuation characterizes progress from psychic fragmentation toward wholeness: the acknowledgment and reconciliation of opposites within an individual. The Grimms’ Fairy Tales are the perfect guide to the process described, as folklore originates in the public unconscious. Therefore, by reading fairy tales, children can combine the terrible and the beautiful in their psyche and overcome traumatic events by accepting the horrific and frightful sides of life.

Psychodynamic Play Therapy

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

The story follows a young prince who visits various planets in space, including Earth, and addresses themes of loneliness, friendship, love, and loss. Despite its style as a children’s book, The Little Prince makes observations about life and human nature. The main character, the pilot of an airplane that crashed over the desert, meets the Little Prince, who descended to our planet from the sky. The Little Prince tells the protagonist about the worlds he visited and their inhabitants. This book echoes the themes presented in Psychodynamic Play Therapy. The game interaction between the protagonist and the Little Prince is detailed here. The Little Prince invents unique ways of self-expression and tries to overcome his main psychological problem of loneliness, expressed in caring for the rose that awaits him on a distant planet.

Cognitive-Behavioral Play Therapy

When Sophie Gets Angry – Really, Really Angry by Molly Bang

This is the story of a child, Sophie, who gets angry that she acts violently. The book reveals how her anger affects how she sees the world – with images of flames and volcanoes and red background. She finds a way to calm down, which makes her see a harmonious world with leafy greens and hands. The book gives kids a lesson on how to handle their intense emotions. Cognitive-behavioral play therapy (CBPT) enhances the interactions between feelings, thoughts, behaviors, and the environment. The book convincingly and realistically describes what happens to Sophie’s thoughts, behavior, and perceptions when she experiences an emotion of anger. Therefore, the book helps create a bridge between feelings and understanding of feelings, which will lead the child to understand the connection between thoughts, feelings, and behavior.

Integrative Approach to Play Therapy

Mary Poppins by P. L. Travers

This series of eight children’s books tell the story of an unusual governess Mary Poppins who arrives on an East Wind umbrella to help Mr. and Mrs. Banks in Parenting Jane and Michael, and baby twins John and Barbara. She accepts the job (agreeing to stay “till the wind changes”), and the children soon learn that their nanny, though stern, vain, and usually cross, has a magical touch that makes her extraordinary. Together with their nanny, Jane and Michael experience a tea party on a ceiling with Mr. Wigg, the purchase of gingerbread stars from Mrs. Corry, and a birthday party at the zoo among the animals. At the end of the story, Mary Poppins opens her umbrella, and the West wind carries her away. The book echoes the ideas of the Integrative Approach to Play Therapy. It illustrates how Mary Poppins applies various parenting methods, including directive and non-directive practices, to meet the children’s individual psychological needs.

Attachment Security as a Framework in Play Therapy

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

This English novel tells the story of Mary Lennox, who is sent to live with an uncle in England when her parents died in India. The uncle, “a miserable hunchback,” owns a secret garden that used to belong to his wife, but after her death, he locked the garden door and hid the keys. Mary is determined to find it and her determination and discovery of the secret garden change her and her uncle’s life. This book is a perfect match for the Attachment Security as a Framework in Play Therapy concept. It describes events related to the understanding of troubling and mysterious behavior problems of children. At the end of the story, the novel’s heroes find a way to overcome their relationship problems, which can motivate patients.

Child-Parent Relationship Therapy

Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater

This book, which was first published in 1938, tells the story of a poor house painter named Mr. Popper and his family, who live in the small town of Stillwater in the 1930s. The Poppers unexpectedly come into possession of a penguin, Captain Cook. The Poppers then receive a female penguin from the zoo, who mates with Captain Cook to have ten baby penguins. Before long, something must be done lest the penguins eat the Poppers out of house and home. This book will help children and their parents in Child-Parent Relationship Therapy as it illustrates the importance of family relations and shares the warmth of the home.

Theraplay: Repairing Relationships, Helping Families Heal

Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne

The book focuses on the adventures of a teddy bear called Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends Piglet, a small toy pig; Eeyore, a toy donkey; Owl, a live owl; and Rabbit, a live rabbit. The characters of Kanga, a toy kangaroo, and her son Roo are introduced later in the book. The toy-tiger character of Tigger is not introduced until the sequel, The House at Pooh Corner. This book will help children in Theraplay therapy as it demonstrates plenty of models for sensitive, responsive, playful give-and-take relations and interactions between the characters. These models could be easily adopted by parents and their infants and younger children, especially given the popularity of the teddy bear, which can be found in the form of plush and other toys. The tender and caring relationships between the protagonists will help children embrace a new model of healthier bonds.

Sandtray and Storytelling in Play Therapy

Moomins by Tove Jansson

Moomins are a family of white, round fairy tale characters with large snouts that make them resemble hippopotamuses. However, despite this resemblance, the Moomin family are trolls. The family lives in their house in Moominvalley, though in the past, they temporarily resided in a lighthouse and a theater. Moomins have many adventures shared with their many friends. A series of books will help children better understand the principle of Sandtray and Storytelling in Play Therapy. Moomin Troll personifies the “no harm” principle, as he is very kind to everyone. At the same time, Moomin Troll understands the boundaries of personal space, unlike his antagonist Little Mu. The character of Moomin Troll will be attractive to the youngest children, and the story of Moomin Troll and Winter, where he plays with snow, can be adapted for playing in a sandbox.

StoryPlay: A Narrative Play Therapy Approach

Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren

Pippi Longstocking is the fictional main character in an eponymous series of children’s books by Swedish author Astrid Lindgren. Pippi is red-haired, freckled, unconventional, and superhumanly strong – able to lift her horse one-handed. She is playful and unpredictable. She often makes fun of unreasonable adults, especially if they are pompous and condescending. Her anger comes out in extreme cases, such as when a man mistreats his horse. Pippi, like Peter Pan, does not want to grow up. She is the daughter of a buccaneer captain and has adventure stories to tell about that. Her four best friends are her horse and monkey, and the neighbors’ children, Tommy and Annika. This book will help children during the StoryPlay or Narrative Play Therapy. In the book, Pippi tells many eye-opening stories that help her and her friends Tommy and Anika survive and be happy in the adult world. The book has metaphors, creativity, and play at its center, just like the StoryPlay or Narrative Play Therapy approach. It also likewise focuses on how to identify, access, and utilize inner resources, skills, and gifts as invaluable “gems.”

Family Play Therapy

A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond

This children’s humorous novel describes how Paddington Bear from “Darkest Peru” comes to live with the Brown family in London, how he makes friends with the antique dealer Mr. Gruber and finds an enemy in Browns’ neighbor Mr. Curry. Paddington can make people who are rude or condescending towards him feel uncomfortable simply by giving them a hard stare. He is very friendly, extremely polite, and has a strong sense of right and wrong. This book is a perfect illustration for Family Play Therapy as it shows how much family is important in a person’s life. The book presents the “happy family,” which is an “earlier heaven” for Paddington, who has strong bonds with family members and loves them dearly. This book also demonstrates the importance of family memories that could be gained through family participation in adventures.

Animal-Assisted Play Therapy

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

Most of the characters are animals such as Shere Khan the tiger and Baloo the bear, though a principal character is the boy or “man-cub” Mowgli, raised in the jungle by wolves. The stories are set in a forest in India. A significant theme in the book is abandonment, followed by fostering. The theme is echoed in the triumph of protagonists, including Rikki-Tikki-Tavi and The White Seal, over their enemies. Other important themes are law and freedom. The story is not about animal behavior but human archetypes in animal form. But still, it perfectly presents the idea that all animals deserve respect and attention to their needs. This understanding can be beneficial for children who undergo Animal-Assisted Play Therapy.

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PsychologyWriting. (2023) 'Children’s Books in Various Therapies'. 22 September.


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1. PsychologyWriting. "Children’s Books in Various Therapies." September 22, 2023.


PsychologyWriting. "Children’s Books in Various Therapies." September 22, 2023.