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, April 20, 2008

Sassafras by Audrey Penn

Illustrated by Ruth E. Harper. 32 pages. Tanglewood Books, 1995.

Sassafras (a skunk) wants to hide from his friends because he is embarrassed by the possibility that he might smell bad. The wise old skunk Poppy explains to Sassafras that the stink is a way for skunks to protect themselves. When a stranger frightens the animals, Sassafras sprays it. The stranger turns out to be a gray fox who just wanted to play with them – and who is embarrassed by the plainness of her fur. Sassafras is able to share with her the lesson he's learned from Poppy, and to accept himself as a result. This story will help encourage children to accept even the "stinky" parts of themselves.

Ages: 4-7
Cultural Context: non-human

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Tom Mouse by Ursula LeGuin

Illustrated by Julie Downing. 40 pages. Roaring Brook, 2002.

Tom Mouse leaves his home to travel the world on trains. He's mostly excited, although lonely and scared at times. He ends up sharing a compartment with Ms. Powers. He's careful not to let her see him, because he worries that she'll scream and he'll be thrown off the train. When she does find him, she doesn't scream - she offers him more food. She seems to understand him, and they become friends. He accepts her invitation to travel with him in her coat pocket. Although told from Tom's point of view, rather than Ms. Powers', this story might be a good example of putting aside automatic reactions and prejudices to open the possibility of finding a friend.

Ages: 6-10
Cultural Context: multicultural

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Pepito the Brave by Scott Beck

32 p. Dutton, 2001.

Pepito is a little bird who is afraid to fly because he is afraid of heights. When it's time to leave the nest, he climbs down the tree and, following the advice of other animals, he runs, hops, swims, and tunnels until he reaches the tree where his brothers and sisters have flown. They tell him that if he is brave enough to do all it took him to get there, he must have enough courage to fly. Hearing this, he flies. With Pepito, children can use this experience to consider possibly unacknowledged sources of their own courage.

Ages: 2-6
Cultural Context: N/A

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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