The Ancient Greeks, with all their philosophical wisdom, utilized works of literature to help with the mending of their sick and injured. They believed an active mind was instrumental in stimulating a person's health and healing. It only took over 2200 years for the progress of using literature as a means of a tool for education. This is known as bibliotherapy. This tool was used for the sick and injured until the 1700's where it was used for the mentally ill. The late 1940's is when educators started to use bibliotherapy for the use of special education. In this essay, I intend to explore this fairly new use of this ancient idea.
The use of books to heal is not a new concept. It is believed the Greek civilization used such a therapy dating as far back as 300 B.C., and continued from there. "One of the earliest records of the use of books for treatment purposes appeared in 1272. At this time, the Al-Mansur Hospital in Cairo provided readings from The Koran [sic] as a part of their patients' treatment." (Jack) At this time "moral" readings were in use. This particular method was consistent with the prescribed materials. It was believed that the literature should be of reverence and piety, preferable in religious nature. In 1802, Dr. Benjamin Rush changed that thinking by expanding this treatment for mental patients in a new direction. "Rush recommended two categories of reading. One was intended to provide entertainment (e.g. travel books, novels); the other, knowledge (e.g. philosophical, moral, religious subjects, current events)." (Jack) Rush felt using different strategies for different patients would help elevate the therapeutic advantages. After World War I there were scholars interested in the possibilities that bibliotherapy could help school children. "The idea of using literature to offer solutions to modern problems and minimize a student's inner turmoil was first explicitly discussed by G.