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, February 22, 2009

When Stories Fell Like Shooting Stars by Valiska Gregory

Illustrated by Stefano Vitale. 40 p., Simon & Schuster, 1996.

The author invites the reader to decide whether the Fox's story or Bear's story is true. In Fox's story, the sun falls from the sky, and Fox uses it to become the determiner of night and day. Other animals disrupt Fox's domination with domination of their own, until factionism eventually leads to war. Each army says the sun belongs to them. In Bear's story, the moon falls from the sky. Believing that the moon does not belong to the animals, he conceives a plan to return it to its right place in the sky. When several animals have pushed the limits of their endurance, the moon is finally restored to its home, where all can see it. This book shows children how arbitrary selfishness leads to war, whereas when people cooperate with one another, even when it's hard, everyone has what they need - including peace.

Ages: 7-11
Cultural Context: non-human

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Frannie's Fruits by Leslie Kimmelman

Illustrated by Petra Mathers. 32 p., Harper & Row, 1989.

A girl tells the story about spending a summer day at her family's produce stand near the beach, helping with the work of selling fruits and vegetables, watching customers, playing with her dog, Frannie, and her best friend -- and eating a big salad for lunch (though her sister picks out the cauliflower and mushrooms). Although nutrition isn't addressed directly, the fruits and vegetables are an appealing part of the story.

Ages: 4-8
Cultural Context: multicultural

Sunday, February 8, 2009

One More Time, Mama by Sue Alexander

Illustrated by David Soman. 32 p., Marshall Cavendish, 1999.

A little girl asks her mama to tell her about her pregnancy. Mama describes all the seasons of waiting for her daughter's birth as the two watch fireflies and walk home, and the girl goes to bed. As Mama tucks her daughter in, she tells her that it wasn't hard to wait because it was she that she was waiting for. Children will feel secure in the sense of closeness between mother and daughter.

Ages: 3-5
Cultural Context: European American

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Dear Daddy by John Schindel

Illustrated by Dorothy Donahue. 24 p., Whitman, 1995.

Jesse lives with his mother, far away from his father. He feels sad and frustrated when his phone conversations with his father seem too short, so he writes his father a letter. At first his father doesn't respond, and he writes another. The reader senses that Jesse is worried that his father doesn't love him. Finally, his father writes him a poster-sized letter, explaining that he'd been away when Jesse's letters had arrived and inviting him to spend the summer. Jesse's joy and relief are clear. Jesse's mother is supportive of his relationship with his father and understanding of his feelings. This story offers empathy to children in similar situations, and reassurance that a parent who doesn't live with them still loves them.

Ages: 3-7
Cultural Context: European American

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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