Gifted Bibliotherapy

Young adult literature offers gifted students many well-written, carefully crafted and emotionally powerful novels which can be used to effectively teach all aspects of literary analysis as well as provide students opportunities to develop an understanding of themselves (Rakow, 1991). Halsted (1994) highlights another important feature of young adult literature stating that because authors often write about what they know best, many authors are gifted and were gifted adolescents, the characters in young adult literature are often characterized as gifted. Seldom, however, is the giftedness pointed out; it is simply there to be recognized by gifted teenagers who see something of themselves in the story.

  • Alvin Webster’s Surefire Plan for Success and How it Failed by Sheila Greenwald.
  • Anastasia Krupnik by Lois Lowry.
  • Apollo 13 by James Lovell and Jeffrey Kluger.
  • Arilla Sun Down by Virginia Hamilton.
  • The Bat-Poet by Randall Jarrell. (For this purpose, an excellent book to combine with "Jonathan Livingston Seagull," listed below.)
  • Been Clever Forever by Bruce Stone.
  • Belle Prater’s Boy by Ruth White.
  • Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Curtis.
  • Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham.
  • Carver: A Life in Poems by Marilyn Nelson.
  • Children of the Atom by Wilmar Shiras.
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon.
  • Deliver Us From Normal by Kate Klise.
  • Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations by Alex and Brett Harris.
  • Einstein: A Life in Science by John Gribbin and Michael White.
  • Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine.
  • Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree by Lauren Tarshis.
  • Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective by Donald Sobol.
  • The Facts and Fictions of Minna Pratt by Patricia MacLachlan.
  • Fairest by Gail Carson Levine.
  • Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes.
  • Forever Changes by Brendan Halpin.
  • Geeks: How Two Lost Boys Rode the Internet Out of Idaho by Jon Katz.
  • Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story by Ben Carson.
  • Good Enough by Paula Yoo.
  • The Great Brain by John Fitzgerald.
  • Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh.
  • A Hope in the Unseen: An American Odyssey from the Inner City to the Ivy League by Ron Suskind.
  • Ida B: . . . and Her Plans to Maximize Fun, Avoid Disaster, and (Possibly) Save the World by Katherine Hannigan.
  • Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach.
  • Kids Inventing! A Handbook for Young Inventors by Susan Casey.
  • The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World by A.J. Jacobs.
  • Leonardo’s Notebooks by Leonardo da Vinci (edited by Anna Suh).
  • Letters From Rapunzel by Sara Lewis Holmes.
  • Libby on Wednesday by Zilpha Keatley Snyder.
  • Maizon at Blue Hill by Jacqueline Woodson.
  • Matilda by Roald Dahl.
  • Millicent Min, Girl Genius by Lisa Yee.
  • More Than a Test Score: Teens Talk About Being Gifted, Talented, and Otherwise Extra-ordinary by Robert Schultz and James Delisle.
  • The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart.
  • The Mysterious Case of the Allbright Academy by Diane Stanley.
  • My Thirteenth Winter by Samantha Abeel. (Gifted and learning disabled, or "twice exceptional.")
  • The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster.
  • Pride of the Peacock by Stephanie Tolan.
  • Rocket Boys by Homer Hickam (also titled "October Sky")
  • Saving Lilly by Peg Kehret.
  • The School for Cool by P. G. Kain.
  • Seeing Emily by Joyce Lee Wong.
  • Smart Talk: What Kids Say About Growing Up Gifted by Robert Schultz and James Delisle.
  • The Snowflake Man: A Biography of Wilson A. Bentley by Duncan Blanchard.
  • Some Day Angeline by Louis Sachar.
  • Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli.
  • Surviving the Applewhites by Stephanie Tolan.
  • The Teenagers’ Guide to School Outside the Box by Rebecca Greene.
  • The Triple Chocolate Brownie Genius by Deborah Sherman.
  • The View From Saturday by E. L. Konisburg.
  • Walt Disney: An American Original by Bob Thomas.
  • The Wright Brothers: How They Invented the Airplane by Russell Freedman.
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle.

More good lists of other possible books for this purpose can be found at the following links:

  • Hoagies' List of Books Featuring Gifted Children
  • Gifted Kids, Gifted Characters, and Great Books
  • Books for Gifted Children Featuring Gifted Children
  • Film and Fiction Dealing with Giftedness

GT World Reading Lists

  • Mind the Gap: Engaging Gifted Readers
  • Juvenile & Young Adult Fiction & Biography: Giftedness
  • Resources for Students

To learn about using bibliotherapy with gifted children, try these articles:

  • Nurturing Social and Emotional Development in Gifted Teenagers Through Young Adult Literature
  • Using Biography to Counsel Gifted Young Women
  • Guiding the Gifted Reader
  • Using Books to Heal and Enthuse Gifted Students
  • Role Models in Books and Movies
  • Gifted Fictional Characters
  • Some of My Best Friends Are Books by Judith Wynn Halsted.