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, May 25, 2008

Mommy's Lap by Ruth Horowitz

Illustrated by Henri Sorensen. 24 pages. Lothrop, Lee and Shepard, 1993.

Sophie loves being in Mommy's lap, a very special place. When Mommy becomes pregnant, there is less room in her lap and she is generally less available to Sophie and somewhat preoccupied with the new baby. Sophie tolerates this unhappily. When baby Sam is born, Mommy immediately finds room for both Sam and Sophie on her lap -- and when she holds Sam herself, Sophie learns that her own lap is a wonderful place. This story helps children understand that their mother's preoccupation during pregnancy is temporary, and that even though things will never be the same when a new baby is born, their relationship with their mother isn't just diminished, it's more differentiated and complex, through the child's identification with her.

Ages: 3-7
Cultural Context: European American

Sunday, May 18, 2008

A Pocket Full of Kisses by Audrey Penn

Illustrated by Barbara Leonard Gibson. 32 pages. Tanglewood, 2006.

When children have a younger sibling, they may worry that they won't be special to their parents any more, and as a result, won't get enough love. In this sequel to The Kissing Hand, Chester the raccoon has a little brother, Ronny, who takes his things, follows him around, pulls his tail, and generally annoys him. When Chester's mother reassures him with a Kissing Hand, he's happy because he knows that she loves him. But when she gives Ronny a Kissing Hand, he's shocked - he thinks she's given Ronny his (Chester’s) Kissing Hand. He worries that she doesn't have enough Kissing Hands for both young raccoons. Patiently, Mrs. Raccoon reassures Chester by telling a story in which the endless light of the sun resembles her endless love for the two of them. But what's most reassuring of all is the extra Kissing Hand she gives Chester to keep in his pocket in case he ever needs it - to meet the special needs of a big brother. With Chester, older siblings will learn to maintain their sense of themselves as special and loved.

Ages: 4-7
Cultural Context: non-human

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Virgie Goes to School with Us Boys by Elizabeth Fitzgerald Howard

Illustrated by E. B. Lewis. 26 pages. Simon and Schuster, 2000.

Set in Reconstruction-era Tennessee, this book tells the story of Virgie, the youngest in a family that includes six brothers. She wants to go to school with her brothers, but they tell her she's not strong enough to tolerate the seven-mile walk, she'd be unable to be without Mama when they stay at school all week, and besides, school is unnecessary for girls. Her brother C.C. supports her, and their parents decide that, like other free people, she will go to school. She not only survives the trip, but survives it cheerfully, and invents strategies for getting through the scary woods. She plans to tell their parents all about school so as to share her learning with them. An afterword describes the consequences of prohibiting African American slaves from learning to read, and explains the story's origin in events that occurred in the author's family. Virgie is a wonderful role model in her resistance to discrimination based on both gender and cultural background.

Ages: 6-8
Cultural Context: multicultural

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Amos and Boris by William Steig

Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1971.

Amos is a mouse who lives on the beach. Because he wonders about other lands across the ocean, he builds a boat and sets sail. He has a wonderful time until he falls off the boat and can't get back aboard. A whale named Boris rescues Amos and takes him home, and the two become close friends. They realize that although they can't live in the same place, they can still be friends and will always remember each other. Many years later, Boris is washed ashore in a storm, and Amos finds him. Boris doesn't think Amos can help him, but Amos brings two elephants who push Boris back into the water. Although it's painful for them to part again, they know they'll always be in each other's hearts. This story shows children how acts of kindness can lead to deep and long-lasting friendship, and how even friends who are apart can feel close to each other.

Ages: 5-9
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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