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, November 25, 2007

Annie and the Old One by Miska Miles

Illustrated by Peter Parnall. 48 p., Little, Brown, 1971.

Annie, who is about 10 years old, tries to keep her beloved grandmother's death from happening. Because the Old One has said that she will die when Annie's mother has finished weaving her rug, Annie does disruptive things intended to keep her mother from weaving. Finally, with help from her grandmother herself, Annie realizes that we are all part of the earth, and accepts her grandmother's impending death. A limitation of this story is that it uses phrases such as "go to Mother Earth" to represent death. However, this story can help children hold simultaneously their sadness in losing someone they love, and their wonder in the interconnection of all things.

Ages: 8-12
Cultural Context: Native American

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Home Now by Lesley Beake

Illustrated by Karin Littlewood. 28 pages. Charlesbridge, 2007.

As this story begins, Sieta is living in a new home, her "Home Now," with her Aunty. She has been traumatized by her parents' deaths (explained in an afterword as due to AIDS). Emotionally disconnected from the friendly world of Home Now, Sieta lives in her memories - both the happy memories of her parents alive and healthy, and the sad, painful memories of their illness and death. This begins to change when her school visits a park where orphaned elephants are cared for. Sieta realizes that she and the smallest elephant, Satara, have in common being orphaned and being Home Now. Meeting Satara is an emotionally meaningful experience, with the result that Sieta finds herself thinking about him along with her memories of her old home. Now she can allow herself to notice that although her new community isn't perfect, it's alive and good. With this realization, she begins to feel a sense of connection with her Aunty and with another child. This story offers compassion and hope to children who have been traumatized by death.

Ages: 4-8
Cultural Context: African

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Bud and Gabby by Anne Davis

32 p., HarperCollins, 2006.

Bud and Gabby, two cats, are best friends, even if Bud is, by his own admission, "the bossy one." They do everything together, both cat things and people things, and Bud genuinely appreciates Gabby. When Gabby gets sick and Bud can't even make her laugh, she has to stay at the hospital. Bud misses her terribly, remembering all her admirable qualities and moping as only a cat can. (He grooms so much that he gets a big hairball). When Gabby comes home healthy, Bud is so happy that he decides not to be so bossy any more. This charming story empathizes with how hard it is to miss a friend who is sick and offers hope, all the while using humor to help readers cheer up.

Ages: 3-7
Cultural Context: non-human

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Sophie's Window by Holly Keller

32 p., Greenwillow, 2005.

Here's a story that both makes room for being little and celebrates being big when you're ready. Caruso, a little pigeon, doesn't feel ready to fly, but one night, a gust of wind carries him off the roof where he lives and onto another building's windowsill. Inside the window is Sophie, a dog. Sophie become's Caruso's friend and takes him home on her back. Although Caruso is relieved to be home, he misses Sophie. One day, he's ready to fly, and he goes straight to Sophie's house. They reunite joyfully, and look forward to seeing each other often. Illustrated with charming watercolors, this story allows children permission to be as little as they need to be, while showing how being big opens the door to the joys of friendship.

Ages: 3-7
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.

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