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, July 29, 2007

Hugs On the Wind by Marsha Diane Arnold and Vernise Elaine Pelzel

Illustrated by Elsa Warnick. 32 pages. Abrams, 2006.

Separation can be more tolerable when children use their imagination to remind them of their connection with the person they miss. In Hugs on the Wind, Little Cottontail misses his grandfather, who is far away. When he imagines Grandfather missing him, too, it occurs to him that he can send love to Grandfather in many ways. He can send hugs to Grandfather on the wind, smiles through the clouds, and his funniest joke through the babbling river. This not only brings him joy, but also allows him to imagine Grandfather singing to him in the song of the rustling trees, and winking at him in the winking stars. With the loving support of his Mama Cottontail, he clearly experiences Grandfather as being close in his heart. Gentle watercolor illustrations expressively convey both the bunny's earnest littleness and his secure, relaxed sense of comfort in nature. With Little Cottontail, children can find creative ways to stay connected to someone who is far away.

Ages: 3-6
Cultural Context: non-human

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Paper Chain by Claire Blake, Eliza Blanchard and Kathy Parkinson

Illustrated by Kathy Parkinson. 34 pages. Health Press, 1998.

Ben and Marcus's Mom goes to the hospital for an operation. They make a paper chain with two links for each day that she will be away, so that they can each pull a link off every day. Because their hugs hurt Mom's incision, Dad invents a "yarn hug" by wrapping a piece of yarn around Mom and the children. Eventually Mom discloses that she has cancer, assuring Ben that he can't catch it. She is honest about not knowing when she will get better. Mom takes the children to meet her oncologist, and to see the room where she will have chemotherapy and the radiation facility. Although the children miss Mom during her treatments and when she is home but debilitated, they find ways to have fun with their babysitter and Dad. Ben and Marcus express and work through their worries through play with bears and through caring for an injured bird. At the end of the story, Mom's cancer is in remission. An introduction for adults and a brief glossary are included. This story offers children empathy with the experience of having a parent who has cancer, models for positive coping and sticking together as a family, and hope for getting through this difficult time.

Ages: 4-8
Cultural Context: European American

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Grandpa Abe by Marisabina Russo

Greenwillow, 1996.

Sarah tells the story of her relationship with her Grandpa Abe from the time of her birth (when he was Grandma's boyfriend) until his death when she is nine years old. In doing this, she is sharing her memories of him, which she has securely within herself. She is depicted as experiencing mostly disbelief in response to his death; her Grandma's sadness is also shown. With Grandma's permission, Sarah keeps one of Abe's sweaters, and she is able to help Grandma smile by doing a magic trick Abe taught her. This story shows how remembering someone can help the mourning process and can keep with us someone who has died.

Ages: 2-7
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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