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, December 14, 2008

The House of Joyful Living by Roni Schotter

Illustrated by Terry Widener. 32 p., Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2008.

When a new baby comes into the family, it's hard to give up being a special only child. This is a little girl’s struggle in this story that's genuinely empathic with the experience of being a child. The girl lives in an apartment building full of friendly neighbors who share their diverse cultural traditions and a common value of helping others. This building, the House of Joyful Living, has a rooftop garden where they gather to talk, eat, and listen to music, and once a year, to have a party. The girl feels as if she's on top of the world on the rooftop, with not only her parents, but all the other "great, good" adults, to herself. The girl knows her mother is pregnant, but for most of the story, she pushes aside this knowledge. When a neighbor makes a special gift for Mama and the baby, the girl can't ignore this any longer, and she can't help worrying that the baby will consume all her parents' attention. She doesn't want to share; she doesn't want to lose the feeling of being special. When Mama and Papa comfort her, she can feel special again, and she begins to understand that the baby could be jealous of her. She finds herself feeling sorry for the baby, who is missing so much of her own wonderful experiences. And this inspires a sense of generosity toward the baby. Through her parents' loving responses, she's able to transform her hurt and envy into a secure sense of care and compassion. This story can help children find that care and compassion in themselves.

Ages: 4-8
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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