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, April 29, 2007

Bootsie Barker Bites by Barbara Bottner

Illustrated by Peggy Rathmann. 32 pages. Putnam, 1992.

Unlike the narrator, Bootsie isn't interested in turtles or salamanders - she just wants to pretend that the narrator is one, and she herself is a dinosaur who eats those animals. When the narrator tells her mother that she doesn't like playing with Bootsie, her mother replies that she has to learn to deal with different kinds of people. Faced with the possibility of an overnight visit from Bootsie, the frightened narrator tells her mother that Bootsie intends to eat her alive. When her mother affirms her right not to play Bootsie's game, she thinks of a new one - in which she is a paleontologist, ready to hunt for dinosaur bones. Terrified, Bootsie throws a tantrum, and her parents decide not to leave her overnight. While it's unfortunate that one of the girls always has to be afraid, the narrator has found a way to feel safe, and to avoid putting up with the unwanted visits. Children will see the benefits of using creativity when confronted with a bully.

Ages: 4-7
Cultural Context: European American

Friday, April 27, 2007

One of the Problems of Everett Anderson by Lucille Clifton

Illustrated by Ann Grifalconi. 26 pages. Holt, 2001.

Everett notices that his friend, Greg, has bruises every day, and seems very sad but won't say why. He wonders how to help. When he finally tells his mother, he realizes that she can help make things better for Greg, and that he can help Greg with listening and hugs. This story lets children who have been physically abused know that they're not alone: other kids have been abused too, and friends want to help.

Ages: 5-7
Cultural Context: African American

Sunday, April 22, 2007

My Body Is Private by Linda Walvoord Girard

Illustrated by Rodney Pate. 32 pages. Whitman, 1984.

In this story, written in the first person, Julie explains what "private" means, noting that her body, and especially her breasts, vagina, and bottom, is private. Her parents tell her she has the right to say no to any unwanted touch. She also describes some pleasant kinds of touch, saying that "most touching is good." She tells how she said no to an uncle who wanted her to sit on his lap - she was frightened, but able to refuse, with no negative consequences. Her mom compliments her for standing up for herself. She also warns Julie about sexual abuse, explaining that it's unlikely, but important to be prepared for, like a fire. An afterword for adults encourages parents to talk with their children about sexual abuse prevention. This story explains sexual abuse in a clear, explicit way, while letting kids know that it's uncommon and that they can enjoy most touches.

Ages: 6-9
Cultural Context: European American

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Boy Who Loved Words by Roni Schotter

Illustrated by Giselle Potter. 35 pages. Schwartz & Wade, 2006.

When we can be true to ourselves, we can develop our potentials fully and express them in a positive way. Such is the experience of Selig, a boy who loves words, collecting them on slips of paper that he keeps in his pockets. His classmates, and even his parents, find this more than a bit odd. It isn't until he has a magical dream that he begins to grasp the possibilities contained in his passion for words. Then, some of Selig's words find their way to a poet who needs exactly those, and Selig realizes that his mission in life is to share his words with others. He uses his favorite words to do good in all kinds of ways, inspiring gratitude in everyone he meets. Children will not only appreciate the joys of words, but will also see how an attribute that seems to make a kid an "oddball" can be a wonderful talent.

Ages: 4-8
Cultural Context: multicultural

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Who is a Stranger and What Should I Do? by Linda Walvoord Girard

Illustrated by Helen Cogancherry. 32 pages. Whitman, 1985.

This non-fiction book gives helpful information about how to respond to strangers in a variety of situations; for example, at school, in other public places, at your door, or on the phone. The author emphasizes that most strangers are nice, and in fact, all of your friends were strangers before you got to know them. She explains that bad strangers don't necessarily look bad. She defines strangers as people whose name and address you and your parents don't know, and whom you haven't gotten to know well, even if you recognize them. She tells kids that it's OK to say Hi to a stranger who has said Hi to you, but not to tell them personal information or to go anywhere with them. She appropriately encourages kids to ask for help from their parents, or other adults they know well, when a stranger is present. She also urges them to run away from strangers who behave inappropriately, and to go to a place where there are other people, especially a police officer or a woman with children. Practice exercises at the end ask the child reader what she or he would do in various situations. An afterword for parents encourages them to teach children about safety from abduction just as they teach fire and water safety, and to reassure them that abduction is rare. This book gives good, solid information, along with reassurance that bad strangers are rare.

Ages: 5-8
Cultural Context: multicultural

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Bubba and Trixie by Lisa Campbell Ernst

35 pages. Simon & Schuster, 1997.

This story is about the friendship between Bubba, a fearful caterpillar, and Trixie, a ladybug who can't fly. Trixie helps Bubba face and let go of his fears, and they have a wonderful time together. Bubba begins to enjoy being a caterpillar, and wishes things would stay the same forever. To his surprise, the friendship survives his metamorphosis into a butterfly. Trixie helps him to have the courage to try to fly, and he is able to give her the gift of flying with him. A brief afterword gives facts about the life cycles of caterpillars and ladybugs. What's very special about this friendship is that it gives Bubba (and presumably, Trixie as well) room to grow as an individual without losing the friendship in any way.

Ages: 4-8
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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