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, February 24, 2008

Odd Velvet by Mary E. Whitcomb

Illustrated by Tara Calahan King. 26 pages. Chronicle Books, 1998.

A girl named Velvet does things differently from her kindergarten or first-grade classmates, and they avoid her until she wins the class art contest. After this, the things she says and does start to make sense to the other children. Much of what makes her seem odd is that she is clearly poorer than her classmates, and in learning to accept her, they discover that it's possible to have fun with less money. Ultimately, her way of doing things, although different, becomes one of many possible ways, rather than being "odd." Children will understand that they need not be ashamed of being "different" or having less money, even though other kids might think so at first.

Ages: 4-7
Cultural Context: multicultural

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The ABC's of Asthma: An Asthma Alphabet Book for Kids of All Ages by Kim Gosselin

Illustrated by Terry Ravanelli. 34 p., JayJo Books, LLC, 1998.

Each letter of the alphabet is related to an aspect of asthma; for example, B for bronchial tubes. In addition to describing various aspects of care for asthma, and emphasizing the importance of medical attention, this book includes statements that a child who has asthma is "just a regular kid," that asthma is not contagious, and that sometimes kids have feelings about having asthma and that talking about those feelings can help kids feel better. Children will understand asthma and its treatment better, and those who have asthma will feel self-acceptance around it.

Ages: 3-10
Cultural Context: multicultural

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Matthew and Tilly by Rebecca C. Jones

Illustrated by Beth Peck. 32 pages. Puffin, 1991.

Matthew and Tilly are friends who do almost everything together. Occasionally, though, they get tired of each other. Once, Matthew accidentally breaks Tilly's crayon, and they argue. Matthew stomps off. Each plays by him- or herself, telling him- or herself that it's more fun this way, but also thinking that it would be more fun with another person. They think of each other at the same time, and each looks to see what the other is doing. Matthew apologizes, Tilly apologizes, and they're together again. This story demonstrates to children that friends may argue, but they can still value each other, and can make up.

Ages: 4-8
Cultural Context: multicultural

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Kiss Good Night by Amy Hest

Illustrated by Anita Jeram. 32 pages. Candlewick, 2001.

A secure relationship can be just what's needed in a scary situation. On a dark, stormy night, Mrs. Bear puts little bear Sam to bed. In what comes across as a regular, comforting ritual, she reads him his favorite story, tucks him in, gives him his stuffed animals, drinks a glass of milk with him, and finally gives him a goodnight kiss. In spite of pouring rain and howling wind outside, Sam goes to sleep, comfortable and cozy. This story shows children that a scary situation is not so scary when you face it with an adult who really knows what you need.

Ages: 0-4
Cultural Context: non-human

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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