ISSN 1866-8836
Клеточная терапия и трансплантация

R-03. Relationships between reading and emotional/social well-being of children with oncological diseases

Nataliya M. Kurikalova

Institute of Age-Specific Phisiology, Russian Academy of Education, Moscow, Russia; «We Teach/They Learn» Project of Hospital Schools of Russia

Contact: Dr. Nataliya M. Kurikalova, e-mail:

doi 10.18620/ctt-1866-8836-2023-12-3-1-176


The search for new means and methods of treatment in oncology and increased survival rates of childhood cancer patients raises urgent questions of creating conditions for their comprehensive development, which should not be canceled due to illness and treatment. It is generally accepted that a child who is really cured of cancer is not only biologically free of the disease, but also psychologically healthy, and functions at a socially acceptable level [1]. Reading is known to play an exceptional role in the process of socialization and mental development of a person, especially under the conditions of long-term treatment in a hospital. Regular reading and development of the reader’s experience will prepare the reader for a difficult life situation, for which he/they will already have “wells of emotional knowledge to draw on” [2]. Therefore, bibliotherapy as treatment and education by directed reading is considered a rehabilitation tool which in combination with medical measures, positively affects the emotional and social well-being of a child, improving his quality of life and contributing to his recovery, and, in a broader context, being a part of the general rehabilitation program by means of education at the hospital school. Reading for bibliotherapeutic purposes helps to gain insight into the problem that a child faces at different stages of the disease and its treatment, stimulate its discussion with adults and/or peers, get an awareness that others have faced similar issues, acquire new attitudes and values to solve the problem. Bibliotherapy is also used for the problem prevention in difficult emotional situations before the problem is detected.

Currently, the emotional and social development of the younger generation takes place under the convergence of real and digital environment. Forms of socialization are changing when virtual forms of communication and social interaction displace or replace traditional ones in the real world, “face to face”. At the same time, digital culture enters into a complex interaction with the culture of everyday life. During long-term inpatient treatment, screen time and online communication inevitably increase, when “the need for communication is replaced by a surrogate form of communication”. All these aspects cannot but have negative consequences for the personal and psychological development of cancer patients.

Modern child’s interaction with the text (fiction and non-fiction) is complex and ambiguous varying from a love of reading and comprehension of what has been read to a complete disregard for reading, which is more common in the context of global digitalization and displacement of reading from the sphere of social practices. The lack of reading experience is compensated by the targeted and professional actions of the hospital school teacher, who simultaneously performs the functions of a subject teacher and a reading teacher. At the heart of such activities (e.g., together with educational psychologists) is the teacher’s mastery of reading comprehension strategies, the ability to select situationally appropriate texts to solve various tasks, e.g.: a) organizing meaningful leisure, b) creating conditions for relaxation, c) improving the psychological climate and the relationships between children and adults who are affected by the long-time isolation in the hospital, d) gaining the lack of necessary social experience, when the real social contacts are limited, e) searching for answers to difficult maturitation problems. The teachers’ experience at the hospital school “We Teach/They Learn” (“UchimZnaem”) confirms the fact that reading and guided reading of carefully selected texts may support the process of treatment and healing, promote the emotional well-being of the child with cancer, which is expressed in his positive emotional state, emotional stability when interacting with the surrounding reality in the social environment of the hospital school.


1.  Van Eys J. The Truly Cured Child? Pediatrician. 1991; 18(1):90-5. PMID: 1983867
2.  Knoth, M.V. What ails bibliotherapy? Horn Book Magazine. 2006; 82(3): 273-276.


Children, oncological diseases, hospital school, emotional and social development, well-being, reading, bibliotherapy.

Supplement 12-3

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doi 10.18620/ctt-1866-8836-2023-12-3-1-176

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