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.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles

Illustrated by Jerome Lagarrigue. 32 pages. Atheneum, 2001.

Joe, who is European American, tells about his best friend, John Henry, who is African American, in this story of the South under Jim Crow laws. The two boys love to swim, and to eat ice pops in the summer - but John Henry isn't allowed in the town poor or through the front door of the general store. When the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is passed, the boys are excited because they can swim together at the town pool. When they get there, on the very first day, a crew is filling the pool with asphalt. John Henry understands that this is about racism, and is enraged and hurt. Joe suddenly becomes aware of all the things he can't do with his best friend. As the story ends, the two boys bravely walk together through the front door of the general store to buy an ice pop. A foreword briefly explains the Civil Rights Act and summarizes the author's experience of growing up in the 1960s as a European American child in the South. This story offers children an understanding of how racism hurts both oppressor and oppressed, and a glimpse of the courage that's needed to work against it.

Ages: 4-8
Cultural Context: multicultural

Sunday, January 28, 2007

A River Dream by Allen Say

32 pages. 1988.

Mark uses a dream of a fishing trip to help himself through a fever and to learn something about himself. His uncle sends him a box of fishing lures, which reminds him of a fishing trip they took together, and this inspires a dream that feels very real. In the dream, Mark imagines fishing with his uncle, very skillfully, and discovers that he wants to let fish go rather than kill them. After this dream, his fever breaks. This story offers children an example of how to use imagination to cope with being sick.

Ages: 5-8
Cultural Context: multicultural

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Harry's Box by Angela McAllister

Illustrated by Jenny Jones. 32 pages. Bloomsbury, 2003.

After Harry has helped his mother shop, the grocery box becomes all kinds of things in Harry's imagination: a shop, a lion's den, a pirate ship, an undersea cave, and a castle. Harry and his dog inhabit these imaginary worlds as a shopkeeper and a customer, an octopus and a dog-fish, and other characters. When Harry's mother, the king's foe, arrives at the castle, he decides to be friends with her, and puts the box behind the couch. There it becomes a cozy bed where Harry and his dog can dream of past and future imaginary worlds. This story shows children how to imbue an ordinary object with imagination.

Ages: 3-7
Cultural Context: European

Sunday, January 7, 2007

ABC I Like Me by Nancy Carlson

32 pages. Viking Penguin, 1997.

The little pig from Nancy Carlson's book I Like Me and her mouse and frog friends use the letters of the alphabet to celebrate their good feelings about themselves. Each letter is related to a positive attribute; for example, A for awesome, B for brave, and C for cheerful. Children can use the characters' examples to appreciate their own positive qualities.

Ages: 2-6
Cultural Context: non-human

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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