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, March 30, 2008

Bernard Goes To School by Joan Elizabeth Goodman

Illustrated by Dominic Catalano. 32 pages. Boyds Mills Press, 2001.

As soon as Bernard (a little elephant) arrives for his first day of preschool with his Papa, Mama, and Grandma, he announces that it's time to leave. He is very unresponsive to suggestions to play with various toys and other children, but finally, reluctantly agrees to help his teacher feed the fish. The teacher is able to engage him with another elephant-child around this activity. After this, when Bernard says it's time to leave, he means that it's time for Papa, Mama, and Grandma to go home. Papa and Mama assure him that they will always come back, and he assures them that he'll be right there. This story will help children who hesitate to go to school see that even others who feel the same way can become comfortable there.

Ages: 2-6
Cultural Context: non-human

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Girl in the Castle Inside the Museum by Kate Bernheimer

Illustrated by Nicoletta Ceccoli. 40 pages. Schwartz and Wade, 2008.

Imagination can feel like a world apart, like the lonely girl in this story who lives in a magical castle inside a glass globe in a museum. She dreams of children coming to visit her. She even dreams that the child reader comes to visit her - and on one page, there's a place for the reader to put a picture of him- or herself, so that the girl in the story won't have to miss him or her. The multimedia illustrations, which incorporate painting, clay models, photography, and digital media, convey the dreamlike quality of this tale. Children can use this story as a reminder to stay connected with the world of imagination.

Ages: 4-8
Cultural Context: European American

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Tops and Bottoms by Janet Stevens

34 pages. Harcourt Brace, 1995.

A poor, but clever, hare strikes a deal with a wealthy, lazy bear to plant vegetables in the bear's field. Each season, the bear gets to choose the tops or bottoms of the vegetables, and each year, gets the less useful part of the plant. When the bear finally chooses both tops and bottoms, the hare plants corn. The hare gives the bear the tassels at the top and the roots at the bottom -- and keeps the ears of corn. Bear learns from this to plant and harvest his own vegetables. Like many other books on this topic, this one has no explicit nutritional information, but is a fun story in which vegetables play an important role.

Ages: 3-7
Cultural Context: non-human

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Nobody Owns the Sky: The Story of "Brave Bessie" Coleman by Reeve Lindbergh

Illustrated by Pamela Paparone. 26 pages. Candlewick, 1996.

This rhyming story is a biography of Bessie Coleman, who in 1921 became the first licensed Black aviator in the world. Although people told her she could never fly because she was female and of African descent, she followed her passion learned to fly in France, returning to the United States as a stunt flier and lecturer. She died during an air show, but her life left an inspiring message about commitment to a dream in spite of prejudice.

Ages: 5-9
Cultural Context: multicultural

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Happy Birthday to You by Dr Seuss

55 pages. Random House, 1959.

A birthday is a wonderful occasion to celebrate a child's joy in being who she or he is, an idea reflected in the birthday customs of the imaginary land of Katroo. Accompanied by the Birthday Bird, the birthday child enjoys unlimited snacks, wondrous flowers, a delicious lunch followed by a swim, a new pet, and finally, a party in a special palace, with live music, fish who spell out "Happy Birthday," and a spectacular cake. Finally, the Birthday Bird flies the child home to bed. One special birthday ritual is that the child shouts to the world that he or she likes him- or herself, and there are several wonderful statements about being glad to be one's own self. A joyful celebration of the uniqueness and value of each individual, this book is perfect as a birthday present.

Ages: 3-9
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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