KIRKLEES libraries are to host the first national conference on reading therapy.

The libraries will share their experience of using reading instead of medicine to help reduce, stress, anxiety and depression in a national conference at Huddersfield Town Hall.

The event will be on Thursday, May 7, from 9.30am to 4.30pm.

The libraries pioneered the first bibliotherapy scheme in the country in 2000.

Julie Walker, reader development officer at Kirklees Council, said: “The Well into Words conference is about spreading the word about bibliotherapy and how helpful it is.

“It is also an opportunity to build relationships between the libraries and those working in health and social care.

“It’s a chance for delegates to come together and find out more about bibliotherapy and how to set up their own bibliotherapy scheme in their areas.”

Workshops will demonstrate how reading can help health.

Catherine Morris, Assistant Head of Culture and Leisure Services for Kirklees, said: “We’ve come a long way since it started in 2000 and hundreds of people have benefited.

“It promises to be a very stimulating day.”

Dr Judith Hooper, Director of Public Health for NHS Kirklees, said: “Reading opens the world to all of us, much more so when we are limited by some form of distress or ill health.

“This guided discovery has proved so useful to many people in expanding their worlds that can be so limited by their disability or illness.”

Jo Haslam is a bibliotherapist based in Slaithwaite and also works in the Colne Valley. She said: “We use fiction and poetry as a form of therapy. People only see reading as a hobby and not as a healthy option.

“Reading groups and bookchat groups provide mental stimulation to lonely isolated elderly in care homes. Crafts and visits from animal groups are also used.

One regular user of the service said: “It’s really important in my life. I wouldn’t willingly miss a session. It’s got my brain working differently.”

The conference costs £30 (including lunch) and will cover topics such as creative writing, bibliotherapy for older people, children and young people and working on a psychiatric ward.

For more information on the conference or an application form contact Julie Walker on 01484 226364 or email: