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, June 24, 2007

I Wish I Were a Butterfly by James Howe

Illustrated by Ed Young. 32 pages. Gulliver/Harcourt Brace, 1987.

Sometimes a lack of appreciation for oneself leads to a wish to be someone else. In I Wish I Were a Butterfly, the littlest cricket in the pond wishes he were a butterfly, because a frog told him that he's ugly. He's so sad that he doesn't want to make music like the other crickets. Other insects tell him the kinds of unhelpful things that people often say to one another; for example, that it's no use to wish to be different, and that he shouldn't pay attention to the frog. He finally learns from the Old One, a spider, that there are more ways to see himself, and that he can take on the compassionate point of view of a friend, not the less-thoughtful point of view of a stranger. This story shows children how to choose a kind, caring perspective from which to see themselves.

Ages: 3-8
Cultural Context: non-human

Sunday, June 17, 2007

A New Room for William by Sally Grindley

Illustrated by Carol Thompson. 26 pages. Candlewick, 2000.

As this story begins, William is moving into his new house, and he doesn't like it. He misses his old house, and the view from his old room of the garden he and Dad had there. What is unsaid, and not even hinted at until the very last lines of the book, is that he has moved because his parents have divorced. His mom helps him decorate his new room, and he allows himself to choose new wallpaper instead trying to replicate what he had at his old house. At the same time, he's also allowing himself to make a new friend. Having taken these steps into his new life, he finds himself happy and comfortable. Children will understand that although the changes of divorce are difficult in many ways, positive changes are possible too.

Ages: 4-7
Cultural Context: multicultural

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Let's Go Swimming With Mr. Sillypants by M. K. Brown

32 pages. Crown, 1986.

Mr. Sillypants (who wears baggy, bright blue pants with a green and red plaid pattern) has just registered for a swimming class, and finds himself with lots of worries. He makes himself a silly sandwich, worries some more, and goes to bed. He dreams of falling into the water. In his dream, at first, he panics, but then he turns into a fish. Creatures that look a little like the pickles in undersea sandwiches, with olives for eyes, attack him. He's saved by the bell - of his alarm clock - and wakes up confident that everything will be all right in his swim class. In fact, it is fine, even though he's the only adult. This story shows a way to use imagination to be amused by your fears about swimming lessons, which seem quite manageable and ordinary after all the weirdness of Mr. Sillypants' dream.

Ages: 4-7
Cultural Context: multicultural

Sunday, June 3, 2007

PJ and Puppy by Cathryn Falwell

26 pages. Clarion, 1997.

PJ has a new potty and a new puppy. PJ and the puppy learn together: PJ to use the potty, and the puppy to use newspapers. They both have accidents while playing, but then wake up dry from naps, and use their respective toilet facilities, inspiring pride in PJ's mother. This amusing book is has very little, and very simple, text. Children can learn along with PJ and the puppy.

Ages: 1-3
Cultural Context: European American

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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