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, November 30, 2008

The Christmas Menorahs: How a Town Fought Hate by Janice Cohn

Illustrated by Bill Farnsworth. 40 p., Whitman, 1995.

This remarkable and inspiring story is based on events that occurred in Billings, Montana, in December, 1993. As the story begins, vandals attack the home of Isaac Schnitzer and his parents. They are Jewish, and are displaying menorahs in the windows in celebration of Hanukkah. The community holds a meeting to address this hate crime. At this meeting, Ms. MacDonald tells the legend of King Christian of Denmark. In this legend, when the Nazis force Jews to wear stars, King Christian wears a star also, inspiring many other Danes to do likewise. Ms. MacDonald suggests that like the Danes, all the citizens of Billings can display menorahs. Churches work together to implement this plan. The newspaper publishes a picture of a menorah for people to put in their windows. Meanwhile, Isaac's teacher holds a productive discussion of difference, prejudice, and bullying. Christian children and adults empathize with the Jews, imagining what they would experience if someone vandalized their homes because they were displaying Christmas decorations. Isaac comes to a new sense of pride in his Jewish identity. And although it takes time, as the people of Billings work together to fight hate, the violence eventually stops. Illustrated with oil paintings that effectively convey a sense of light in the darkness, this moving story imparts powerful lessons about diversity, unity, and courage. Dr. Cohn has also written a play based on this story that can be performed by children (see www.papercandles.com).

Ages: 8-14
Cultural Context: multicultural

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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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