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, August 31, 2008

The Friendly Four by Eloise Greenfield

Illustrated by Jan Spivey Gilchrist. 48 p., HarperCollins, 2006.

Even when life seems dull and discouraging, there are possibilities for friendship. Drummond (known as Drum) starts his summer bored. There are no other kids his age on his block, and his baby brother's needs always seem to take precedence over his. But soon Dorene, who is just his size, moves into the neighborhood, and they play together. When Louis, who is also their age, moves in, they welcome him. And Dorene's cousin, Rae, comes to spend the summer. The four children run on the playground, tell stories, and collaboratively create a wonderful make-believe town where they act out stories. When it's almost time for school to start, they celebrate the connections they've formed, and together say goodbye to summer. The book is itself written as a play, encouraging children to act out its story, and the illustrations are full of motion and energy. The families are diverse in their composition. When children are sad to see their summer fun end, they'll feel empathy from this story, along with support in maintaining the connections that were part of summer.

Ages: 4-8
Cultural Context: African American

Sunday, August 24, 2008

As Good As Anybody by Richard Michelson

Illustrated by Raul Colón. 40 pages. Random, 2008.

Even people who may seem different have common experiences and can work together to end prejudice. This book tells the stories of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Abraham Joshua Heschel. They experience many parallel prejudices, King in the segregated American south, and Heschel in Nazi-era Germany. But both have parents who teach them that they are "as good as anybody," and both have hope that "in the next world, people everywhere will live together in peace." Both speak out for equality. After moving to the United States, Heschel joins King's famous march from Montgomery to Selma. In a moving scene, they join hands - White and Black, Jew and Christian. Symbolizing a diverse alliance in support of equality, they are unstoppable. This story can help children understand both common experiences across seemingly different groups and the value of working together to end discrimination.

Ages: 6-10
Cultural Context: multicultural

Sunday, August 17, 2008

When Mommy is Sick by Ferne Sherkin-Langer

Illustrated by Kay Life. 24 pages. Whitman, 1995.

A girl's Mommy has frequent hospitalizations. When Mommy is in the hospital, the girl feels sad, things just don't seem right, and she doesn't want to do much at school. Her teacher is understanding, and she has other adults to take care of her - Daddy, a babysitter, and a friend's mommy. The girl worries that her misbehavior might have caused Mommy's illness, that Mommy might never come home, and that her hugs might hurt Mommy, and she resents the unfairness of Mommy's illness. Daddy reassures her. The girl eagerly anticipates visits to Mommy at the hospital - although it's painful to end them - and Mommy's return home. Mommy has to rest for a week when she returns, but she finally takes her daughter to the playground, and then things feel right again. This story validates children's feelings about a parent's illness and offers hope for recovery.

Ages: 4-7
Cultural Context: multicultural

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Chester's Way by Kevin Henkes.

32 pages. Greenwillow, 1988.

Chester (a mouse) always does things his way, from the way he cuts his sandwiches to the way he ties his shoes. He and his best friend, Wilson, are inseparable, and have all the same tastes and preferences. When Lilly moves into the neighborhood, they can't help noticing that she does things in her own unique way. They decide that she's weird, and avoid her. But when Lilly saves them from a group of bullies, they become friends. They find that they have both differences (for example, in the ways they cut their sandwiches) and similarities (for example, they all have night lights). When Chester and Wilson try doing things Lilly's way, they find that they enjoy them. They teach her some of their ways, too. The three friends become inseparable. Children will see that even kids who have very strong feelings about doing things a certain way can be comfortable making room in their lives for new ways to do things.

Ages: 3-7
Cultural Context: non-human

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Eagle Eyes: A Child's Guide to Paying Attention by Jeanne Gehret

Illustrated by Susan Covert. 40 pages. Verbal Images Press, 1996.

When kids have ADHD, they and others around them can see them as clumsy and annoying, and they may forget to do homework or to turn it in. Because of experiences like these, Ben feels bad about himself. His father takes him to Dr. Lawson, who explains that he has "Attention Deficit Disorder," which he describes as a chemical imbalance affecting his control of his behaviors and thoughts, adding "my thoughts run ahead of me." Ben's father explains that he has eagle eyes, noticing everything. "But eagles know when to stop looking around and zoom in on their prey. Me, I just keep noticing more things and miss my catch." Dad helps Ben to make up a song that helps him get ready for school in the morning, and Mom gives him relaxing bedtime music. Ben also learns to read people's facial expressions and use them to change his behavior. And Ben's eagle eyes are a help when his father is injured while hiking - Ben is the only one who knows the way to the ranger station, where he can get help. This helps Ben to appreciate himself. A parent resource guide gives ideas about parenting children who have ADHD. With Ben, children can learn to cope with the challenges of ADHD and feel good about themselves.

Ages: 5-9
Cultural Context: multicultural

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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