School Libraries: Improving student mental and emotional health one book at a time
School libraries, like public libraries, provide a collection of up-to-date resources that inform and entertain. Many school libraries are benefitting from renewed spaces that welcome students by providing seating that is relaxing and grouped for conversing, while offering individual spaces for pondering and completing homework.
The American Library Association (2022) defines libraries as a “venue for exploring questions that arise out of individual curiosity and personal interest”. Ask any reader why books are engaging and the answer will be related to that individual’s ability to find a connection with the characters or content (Allyn, 2015). I remember when a 10th grader, who didn’t read much, came to the library just to get out of study-hall. After talking about his interests, of which one was fishing, he happily left with a non-fiction book on trout fishing with high-quality photographs of tips and tricks. The library and its collection should be a place where all students, faculty and staff are welcomed and affirmed, thus supporting mental and emotional health.
In studying college students’ psychological distress, Levine et al. (2022) found that “recreational reading was associated with reduced psychological distress” and “seemed to buffer against the frustration of one’s basic psychological needs which led to improved mental health”. Another study found that recreational reading can “support readers to deal with the daily emotional challenges they experience affecting their psychological well-being” (Yulia et al., 2021). And it doesn’t take much time! Taking just 6 minutes a day to read can “reduce stress levels by up to 60% by reducing your heartbeat and muscle tension and changing your state of mind” and can be more effective than listening to music (“Making Reading”, 2022).
School recognizing the relationship between stress and mental health are making efforts to create stress-free and welcoming environments via the school library (“Relationship Between”, 2022). Below are some pictures of several districts who have changed up their libraries with color, comfortable seating, new flooring, and new shelving.
By: Cece Fuoco, CA BOCES Learning Resources
Allyn, P. (2015, March-April). For the love of reading: five methods to instill a lifetime of good habits. Reading Today, 32(5), 26+
American Library Association. (2022, June 27). Definition of a library. Retrieved November 28, 2022, from https://libguides.ala.org/library-definition.
Make reading a habit for better mental & emotional health. (2022, October 6). Business World, NA
Relationship between stress and emotional self-efficacy. (2022, August 10). Business World, NA.
S. L. Levine, S. Cherrier, A. C. Holding & R. Koestner. (2022). For the love of reading: Recreational reading reduces psychological distress in college students and autonomous motivation is the key, Journal of American College Health, 70:1, 158-164.
Yulia, A., Joshi, R. M., & Husin, N. A. (2021). Assessing the effects of books on psychological wellbeing in Malaysia. Learning Disabilities: A Contemporary Journal, 19(1), 87+.
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