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, January 27, 2008

The Front Hall Carpet by Nicholas Heller

24 pages. Greenwillow, 1990.

All you need is a rug to create an imaginary world. In one preschool- or early school-age girl's house, the floor covering in each room inspires a different game or make-believe play. The girl goes canoeing on the river of a blue front hall rug, picnics under a cherry tree on a green dining room rug, rules a kingdom on the multicolored kitchen tile floor, explores a frozen land on the back of a polar bear (otherwise known as a shaggy, white living room rug), steps only on certain dots on the spotted rug in her parents' room, and winds her way through the maze on the rug in her room. (The rug maze is especially useful for confusing any monsters who might come in at night). The girl expresses openness to including another in her imaginary world. This story shows kids how to use imagination to transform ordinary objects.

Ages: 2-5
Cultural Context: European American

Sunday, January 20, 2008

A Friend Is Someone Who Likes You by Joan Walsh Anglund

32 p., Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1958.

In this classic book, a friend can be a person, an animal, or even a tree, a brook, or the wind. According to the author, everyone has a friend, although it isn't always obvious. Unlike stories that focus on the quality of relationships between friends, this book is more focused on the ways in which people can feel liked, even when they don't have a human friend.

Ages: 4-7
Cultural Context: European American

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Welcome to Kindergarten by Anne Rockwell

32 pages. Walker, 2001.

Tim visits his kindergarten before starting school. He visits all the different parts of the classroom: the science center, the art center, and so on. He anticipates learning about how plants and animals grow, making art, learning to count, read, write, tell time, and cook. He meets a new classmate. At first Tim experiences the school and his classroom as big, but once he's gotten to know the classroom, it feels just right. This story offers kids an opportunity to join Tim in anticipating the fun of kindergarten. Children who feel a bit overwhelmed by the prospect of going to the "big school" will be reassured that if it can stop seeming so big to Tim, it can for them too.

Ages: 3-6
Cultural Context: multicultural

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Mine! by Mathilde Stein

Illustrated by Mies van Hout. 24 pages. Lemniscaat, 2006.

Children who struggle to share may benefit from getting to know a more relaxed side of themselves – a part of themselves who resembles Charlotte in this story. Charlotte finds a little ghost in her room, and all the ghost will say is "Mine!" Charlotte always responds reasonably, showing the ghost ways that they can share (he can stay in her bed for a sleepover, but has to move over to make room for her and her bear) or showing him the disadvantages to him of not sharing (if he eats all the bread and jam, he won't have room for pie). When Charlotte refuses to play with the ghost because he doesn't know how to play cooperatively, he feels sad. He really does want to play with her. Charlotte teaches him games. The ghost tries to share, and isn't perfect at first. By the end of the day, they're working together toward a common goal - a meal of pancakes. But at dinnertime, a man from a nearby castle comes looking for a runaway ghost, and the next morning, the ghost is gone. Charlotte misses him, but feels better when he sends her a picture he's drawn of the two of them having fun together. Reading this story can help children who worry about sharing to understand that it's possible with practice, that it's fun, and that it can allow them to have real friendships.

Ages: 2-6
Cultural Context: European

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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