Welcome to the online home of Healing Stories: Picture Books for the Big and Small Changes in a Child's Life. Here you'll find information about Healing Stories, along with unique resources to support you in using picture books to help children through the challenges they face, from the everyday to major trauma.

Have you ever wished that you could find just the right book for a child? Maybe a child in your life is anticipating a big change, such as having a new brother or sister, starting school for the first time, or moving to a new house. Maybe something difficult and painful has happened, such as a divorce, a serious illness, or a death. Or maybe you just know a child who is fearful at bedtime, or is a fussy eater, or has a bad day occasionally. It may have occurred to you that sharing a story could help the child in your life manage the situation that she or he is going through.

Why a story? A healing story is a comforting experience. As a child, it’s a comfort to know that other kids have gone through what you’re going through - whether it’s something as ordinary as starting school for the first time, or something as traumatic as a natural disaster. It’s a comfort to know that other children have had the feelings you’re having, and that there are ways to solve the problem or to get through the situation. Most of all, it’s a comfort to share this experience by reading with an adult who cares deeply about you. And when you’ve read this healing story with your parent or another caring adult enough, the book itself - and ultimately, the story (in the absence of a physical book) - becomes a comfort. But, as a parent or other concerned adult, how will you find this healing story to share with your child?

Healing Stories puts at your fingertips an annotated listing of more than 500 picture books that was prepared just for this purpose. Each story or nonfiction picture book has been carefully selected by a psychologist who works extensively with children. Each chapter includes summaries of picture books relevant to a specific concern that children may have, empowering you to select the books that best match the child and the situation you’re concerned about. Healing Stories also includes a helpful introduction that discusses ways to use books with children who are experiencing life changes or stress.

Below you'll find reviews of picture books that aren't included in Healing Stories, and can be valuable sources of healing for children.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Abuela by Arthur Dorros

Illustrated by Elisa Kleven. 40 pages. Dutton, 1991.

With an imagination and an Abuela (grandmother) who loves you, the sky's the limit. This delightful story takes place in the granddaughter's imagination, as she and her Abuela take off with the birds and fly all over New York City together. This flight reveals lots of the sights they've seen on real adventures they've had together, and in a particularly moving sequence mirroring their very close and special relationship, they briefly make a home in the clouds, where Abuela holds her granddaughter in her lap. The mixed-media illustrations are full of color and detail. This story shows the joy of sharing whatever is on your mind with someone who understands and cares for you.

Ages: 3-7
Cultural Context: multicultural

Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams

Illustrated by M. Lloyd. 32 pages. HarperCollins, 1986.

In this story, a little old lady who is not scared of anything walks home in the dark, and various pieces of clothing and a jack-o-lantern try to scare her, each making its own sound. She bravely says she isn't scared, although her quickening pace makes her fear obvious to readers. Because of her verbal refusal to be scared, the collection of clothes cannot intimidate her. At her suggestion, they become a scarecrow, so that at least they can scare someone. Children will understand the usefulness of just plain refusal to be scared, along with some cleverness, in coping with fear.

Ages: 3-7
Cultural Context: European American

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Margaret and Margarita by Lynn Reiser

32 pages. Greenwillow, 1993.

Margaret, who speaks only English, and Margarita, who speaks only Spanish, both tell their mothers it is NOT a beautiful day to go to the park, because there is no one there to play with. Then they find each other, and in this bilingual book, they find ways to communicate and play. They agree to be friends, and they look forward to future trips to the park. This story shows children that they can find ways to communicate with kids who initially seem different from them - and that when they do, it's possible to find a good friend.

Ages: 3-7
Cultural Context: multicultural

Sunday, October 8, 2006

There's a Big, Beautiful World Out There! by Nancy Carlson

32 pages. Viking, 2002.

Although there are a lot of scary things and situations in the world, if we hide from them, we miss positive aspects of life also. The author acknowledges - in detail - that there's a lot to be scared of, including mean-looking dogs, thunderstorms, crawly things, frightening stories in the newspaper, public speaking, and even people who don't look like you. She acknowledges the wish to hide under your covers when you're scared. But she also points out all that you'd miss if you hid under the covers. For example, if you hid from a thunderstorm, you'd also miss the rainbow that comes afterward. You might even miss learning important things about yourself, or making new friends. She encourages kids to allow themselves to experience the world, in spite of their fears. The courage and optimism she writes about are all the more meaningful in light of a note saying that she wrote this book on September 12, 2001. Children can learn from this book that while their fears are legitimate, it's still possible that they're outweighed by positive experiences in life.

Ages: 3-8
Cultural Context: multicultural

Sunday, October 1, 2006

The Rainbow Tulip by Pat Mora

Illustrated by E. Sayles. 32 pages. Viking, 1999.

A first-generation Mexican American girl, called Estelita at home and Stella at school, works through her sense of being different from her first-grade classmates and her neighbors because of her Mexican heritage. She experiences her family as comforting, and yet at the same time she's also drawn to the English-speaking culture in which she lives outside her house. Her wish for more connection between the cultures is suggested by her wish that her mother and her teacher could speak the same language. When the girls in her class have to dress as tulips for a May Day parade, she finds that she's the only multicolored tulip - much as she's the only child who contains more than one culture. At first, she's ashamed, but as she senses her mother's pride, she too feels proud and competent. When her mother empathizes with her mixed feelings about being the only rainbow tulip, Estelita/Stella feels the strength of her connection to her Mexican heritage, which allows her to accept the ambivalent experience of being different. This story offers empathy to Mexican-American children who have felt the way Estelita/Stella does and to others who feel "different", along with a way to honor their uniqueness.

Ages: 4-8
Cultural Context: multicultural

About the Author

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Jacqueline Golding, Ph.D. is a psychologist in private practice in Pleasanton, California who works with children, teens, and adults. A graduate of Yale University, Dr. Golding earned her Ph.D. in psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles and completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the Central Contra Costa County Child, Adolescent, and Family Mental Health Service in Concord, California. She holds an appointment as Professor Emeritus at the University of California, San Francisco and has published over 100 articles in scientific and professional journals on topics such as trauma, depression, and cultural issues in mental health. Dr. Golding is represented by the Levine Greenberg Literary Agency.

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