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, September 30, 2007

The Get Well Soon Book by Kes Gray

Illustrated by Mary McQuillan. 26 pages. Millbrook Press, 2000.

On each page, an animal has an odd, and in some sense amusing, injury; for example, a centipede has sprained all but two of her 100 ankles playing field hockey. All the animals do what their doctors recommend, and all recover. Some children who would be sensitive to the animals' plight might find it more upsetting than funny. However, this story will remind many children that it could be worse, and will promote their wellness through humor.

Ages: 3-7
Cultural Context: non-human

Sunday, September 23, 2007

I Love You the Purplest by Barbara Joosse

Illustrated by Mary Whyte. 26 pages. Chronicle Books, 1996.

This story addresses the concerns a child may have about being loved enough when there is more than one child in the family. Two brothers, Max and Julian, go fishing with their Mama. They ask Mama whose can has more worms, who is the best rower and the best fisherman - and finally, at bedtime, which brother she loves most. She responds to each question by expressing her experience of the uniqueness of each child. She loves Julian the bluest and Max the reddest. At the end, the author describes them as "the boys she loved best." This story conveys the idea that a new sibling can't displace an older child, because the older child is loved for him- or her- unique self.

Ages: 4-7
Cultural Context: European American

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds

32 pages. Candlewick, 2003.

Sometimes it takes just a tiny step -or a tiny dot- to begin to have self-confidence. As this story begins, Vashti is absolutely convinced that she can't draw. With her teacher's gentle encouragement to "just make a mark and see where it takes you," she resentfully makes a dot. Remarkably, when she allows this, the dot takes her farther than she'd ever imagined. She paints dots in different colors and sizes. She shows her paintings at the school art show. There, she is recognized as an artist, and shares what she's learned with another child. With Vashti, children can learn how to allow their potentials to unfold, and may even allow themselves to acknowledge their capabilities.

Ages: 4-8
Cultural Context: multicultural

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Uncle Rain Cloud by Tony Johnston

Illustrated by Fabricio VandenBroeck. 32 p., Charlesbridge, 2001.

Carlos's Tío Tomás nearly always seems to be grumpy. He is a monolingual Spanish speaker and resents the use of English all around him. Carlos enjoys Tío Tomás's brief better moods, when he tells Carlos stories from Mexico about Aztec gods. When Tío Tomás is the only adult available to attend Carlos' parent-teacher conference, his teacher asks third-grader Carlos to serve as interpreter. That night, Carlos asks for an Aztec story, and Tío Tomás expresses the belief that Carlos only likes English, and explains that he is ashamed of his fear of speaking English. Carlos empathizes, telling Tío Tomás that he has been teased about the limitations of his own English. Tío Tomás is impressed by Carlos's courage, and finds within himself the ability to allow Carlos to help him learn. Eventually, Tío Tomás proposes that Carlos keep teaching him English and he keep telling Carlos stories from Mexico, in Spanish. Carlos is delighted, because this will double the knowledge of both. This story will help children understand that culture doesn't have to be an "either-or" attribute - it can be "both/and," to the person's benefit.

Ages: 6-10
Cultural Context: multicultural

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey by Maira Kalman

42 p., Putnam, 2002.

The John J. Harvey is a fireboat that was built in 1931 and fought many fires. By 1995, it was to be sold for scrap; five years later, a group of friends decided to buy it just for fun. They had it restored, but people still said it could never help fight a fire. When the World Trade Center was attacked on September 11, 2001, and fires broke out, the owners of the Harvey volunteered to use it to help. It was used to fight fires when other methods could not work. "The Harvey was a hero." A limitation is the use of the pronoun "she" to refer to the boat. But children might identify with the Harvey because of its apparent inability to manage disasters; if so, they may feel that they, too, can be heroes.

Ages: 4-8
Cultural Context: multicultural

About the Author

My photo
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.

Blog Archive