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, May 27, 2007

Ruby's Wish by Shirin Yim Bridges

Illustrated by Sophie Blackall. 29 pages. Chronicle, 2002.

This is the true story of the author's grandmother, who was the granddaughter of a man who left China to join the California gold rush and returned to China wealthy. It was unusual at that time and place for girls to be allowed to go to school, but in this family, it was permitted. At the same time, though, while boys had no other responsibilities than school, girls were given household chores. While boys went to university, girls married and were sent to their husbands' families' homes. Ruby is a determined child who insists on wearing red every day, and is the only girl to persist in school, often staying up later than anyone else to fulfill all her responsibilities. She wants to go to university. Ruby is aware that girls are treated unfairly, and expresses this in a poem that comes to the attention of her grandfather. Just when she despairs, he gives her a special gift: a letter of admission to the university. This story offers encouragement to persist in following your dreams in spite of prejudice.

Ages: 5-9
Cultural Context: Asian

Sunday, May 20, 2007

In the Piney Woods by Roni Schotter

Illustrated by Kimberly Bulcken Root. 32 pages. Farrar, Straus and Giroux/Melanie Kroupa, 2003

Ella and her Grandpa love walking together in the pine barrens near their house. Grandpa has taught her what is special about dwarf pitch pine cones: the seeds inside can only be released to grow if there's a fire, and there will only be room for them to grow if a fire burns down the old trees. As time goes on, Grandpa is less and less able to walk, and even too tired to be carried to the woods by the family - Ella's parents, her pregnant older sister, and sister's partner, Sam. There's a lightning storm, and the woods catch fire. When Ella helps the firefighters, along with Papa and Sam, she finds a pitch pine cone that's opened by the fire, and brings it back to Grandpa. Grandpa soon dies, and Ella plants a seed from the pinecone beside his grave. Months later, a baby pitch pine grows, and Ella's new nephew grows too. Ella plans to teach him all that Grandpa taught her. This story offers children a healing image of the continuity of life.

Ages: 5-9
Cultural Context: European American

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Blossom and Boo: A Story About Best Friends by Dawn Apperley

26 pages. Little, Brown, 2000.

Blossom (a rabbit) and Boo (a bear) are best friends. They're kind to each other and have fun together. When it's almost time for Boo to hibernate, they tell each other they'll still be best friends even when they can't see each other every day. When Boo doesn't come out one day, Blossom realizes he's hibernating, and she's lonely playing by herself. But she remembers Boo, the good times she had with him, and the ways he taught her to comfort herself, and all that helps. In the spring, they reunite joyfully. Children will understand that friends have fun together and are kind to each other, that friendship can survive separation, and that good memories can help friends cope with being apart.

Ages: 2-7
Cultural Context: non-human

Sunday, May 6, 2007

The Cat Barked? by Lydia Monks

28 pages, Dial, 1999.

Kids may have difficulty accepting themselves because it seems as if it would be better, somehow, to be someone else. In this rhyming story, a cat wishes it were a dog because of all the exciting things dogs get to do. Then its human points out that if it were a dog, the cat would have to do things it doesn't want to do, and wouldn't be able to do the things that only cats can do. The human urges the cat to stay a cat. As the story ends, the dog, having heard all the great things the person has said about being a cat, starts to wish that it was a cat. This story shows children how to see what's positive about being who they are.

Ages: 3-7
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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