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, October 26, 2008

How I Learned Geography by Uri Shulevitz

32 p., Farrar Straus Giroux, 2008.

War may involve both emigration and deprivation, as it does in this story based on the author's childhood experiences during World War II. During wartime, a boy and his parents flee to a new, different country where they are chronically hungry. One day, instead of coming home from the bazaar with food, his father disappoints the boy and his mother by coming home with a map. But in spite of himself, the boy finds himself drawn in by the map, and before he knows it, he's imaginatively transported to fascinating faraway places, some of which offer him trees full of ripe fruit. This story celebrates the power of imagination to sustain us in times of devastation.

Ages: 5-8
Cultural Context: multicultural

Sunday, October 19, 2008

I Love It When You Smile by Sam McBratney

Illustrated by Charles Fuge. 26 p., HarperCollins, 2006.

When you feel irritable, sometimes you can't force yourself to be happy - it has to happen by itself. Little Roo wakes up grumpy one morning, and his mother tries all kinds of things to get him to smile, but he just doesn't feel like smiling. So she suggests that they go look for something to eat. Roo isn't hungry, but he reluctantly gets into his mom's pouch, and off they go. Mom isn't paying good attention to where she's going, and falls into a big hole full of mud. When Roo sees his wet, muddy mother, he can't help smiling. Finally, his grumpy mood is broken. With Roo, children will feel validated in not responding when someone tries to force a change in their mood - and will see that grumpiness doesn't have to last forever.

Ages: 2-6
Cultural Context: non-human

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Germs Are Not for Sharing by Elizabeth Verdick

Illustrated by Marieka Heinlen. 14 p., Free Spirit, 2006.

We teach children that it's important to share, but we don't want them to share germs. In simple, accessible language and pictures, this book tells kids how to avoid sharing germs by explaining what to do when they sneeze, cough, or drop food on the floor, and how and when to wash their hands. It also encourages children to blow kisses instead of giving them directly when they're sick. An afterword for parents and caregivers gives clear, practical suggestions for teaching toddlers how to avoid contagion. The only change I'd make would be to teach "Catch that cough/sneeze" instead of "Cover it up," because not only does it sound more fun, but also, "Cover it up" could potentially suggest shame. With this friendly, attractive board book, the youngest children will be empowered to help protect their health and the health of people around them.

Ages: 1-3
Cultural Context: multicultural

Sunday, October 5, 2008

One Dad, Two Dads, Brown Dad, Blue Dads by Johnny Valentine

Illustrated by Melody Sarecky. 32 p., Alyson, 1994.

Beginning with a take-off on Dr. Seuss's One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, this story introduces the possibility of blue dads. A little girl doubts this until she meets a boy named Lou who has two blue dads. Lou tells the girl that his dads do all sorts of ordinary things, asking, "Did you think that they simply would stop being dads, just because they are blue?" The girl asks how Lou's dads became blue - perhaps at some point they went through the laundry with a blue pen? Lou reacts as if the questions are strange - his dads have always been blue, "well - because they are blue." It's being blue that seems "different" in this story, not being gay. The message is clear that dads don't stop being dads because they're gay, any more than they would because they were blue. In a humorous, upbeat style, this story offers appreciation for diverse families' similarities.

Ages: 4-8
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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