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, June 29, 2008

I'm Like You, You're Like Me by Cindy Gainer

44 pages. Free Spirit, 1998.

Kids are similar in many ways and different in many others, including age, family size, neighborhood, school, holidays and celebrations, skills and abilities; color of hair, eyes, and skin; height, and hair texture. Kids affirm that they like their own body and appearance, and that other kids' bodies are "just right" for them. They show readers how to work and play cooperatively and to communicate acceptance, and they encourage readers to listen to one another, to try to understand one another, and to be ask kind as they can be. This book communicates a positive sense of respect for differences and gives clear examples of ways to get along with other kids.

Ages: 3-7
Cultural Context: multicultural

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Some Helpful Tips for a Better World and a Happier Life by Rebecca Doughty

40 pages. Random, 2008.

This sweet book does just what it promises, beginning with the tip, "Begin each day by making funny faces in the mirror." It encourages joy through both concrete behaviors like making cupcakes, eating vegetables, reading, dancing, and making music and art; and more abstract ones like experimentation, sharing troubles with someone close, and being yourself. The deceptively childlike illustrations help convey a sense of wonder and delight. When a child is feeling overwhelmed, this book can provide a welcome sense of reassurance and grounding in everyday life.

Ages: 3 and up
Cultural Context: multicultural

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Always With You by Ruth Vander Zee

Illustrated by Ronald Himler. 32 pages. Eerdmans, 2008.

Even when severely traumatized, children can find hope by keeping with them someone they have lost. In this deeply moving book, based on a true story, four-year-old Kim’s mama dies when their village in Vietnam is bombed. She whispers her last words to Kim: “Don’t be afraid … I will always be with you.” Partially blinded and left for dead, Kim reminds herself of her mama’s words. Eventually, American soldiers find her and take her to an orphanage, where she lives for five years. In the care of loving foster parents there, she is able to make friends, and to reclaim her capacities to learn and to play. Kim uses play as well as words to keep her mama’s love with her. Her foster parents acknowledge the pain of her loss. Along with their reassurance, the memory of her mama’s words allows her to cope with living in a terrifying world. For children who have sustained terrible losses, Kim’s story can serve as a powerful source of hope.

Ages: 8-12
Cultural Context: multicultural

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Tom Cat by Noah Woods

32 pages. Random, 2004.

Sometimes kids need support around accepting their differences so that they can be themselves. Tom, a cat, is "a little different" from birth. He's scared of mice, climbs trees, builds nests, hangs upside down, and wallows in the mud. Rather than meowing, he quacks, moos, and barks. His parents tend to emphasize his "differentness" at first, telling him what cats do. But soon they begin to tell him that he really is a cat, in spite of his speculations that he might be a chipmunk or a kangaroo. When they finally tell him that they love him no matter who he is, he finds himself meowing - and enjoying it so much that he never wants to quack or moo again. Once he's reassured that his parents love him even if he stretches the boundaries of being a cat, he's free to be himself. This story may help children find a sense of perspective about feeling different.

Ages: 2-6
Cultural Context: non-human

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Potty! by Mylo Freeman

26 pages. Tricycle Press, 2002.

As this story opens, a potty sits in the jungle. A note next to the potty says, "'Only the best bottom of all will fit on this potty.'" Various animals try the potty, but none of their bottoms fit on it. The gorilla puts it on his or her head. When the tortoise is taking a turn, the other animals leave for a while. When they return, a boy is on the potty. The animals agree that he has "the best bottom of all." As the story ends, author asks the reader, "Does your bottom fit on the potty?" This story has the potential to tempt reluctant toddlers to try the potty.

Ages: 1-3
Cultural Context: African

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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