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, March 22, 2009

Kids Need to Be Safe: A Book for Children in Foster Care by Julie Nelson

Illustrated by Mary Gallagher. 32 p., Free Spirit, 2006.

When children are in foster care, they are often traumatized, confused, and full of conflicting emotions. This book explains that parents usually take good care of children, but sometimes they have problems that lead them to need help with this - problems like homelessness, substance abuse, and violence. Although relatives may help take care of children, so can police, social workers, and foster parents. The recurrent message of this book is "Kids are important. Kids need to be safe." Ms. Nelson explains in very simple language what foster parents do, and acknowledges some of the feelings kids have when they're in foster care. Notes for adults describe children's experiences in foster care and suggest caring responses, and refer adults to resources such as books and organizations. This book can be a soothing source of empathy for young children in foster care.

Ages: 3-8
Cultural Context: multicultural

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Jack's Talent by Maryann Cocca-Leffler

32 p., Farrar Straus Giroux, 2007.

Sometimes children may not be aware of attributes they could be proud of. Such is the case for Jack as he starts school. His teacher, Miss Lucinda, asks all the children in his class to tell her what their special talent is. When it's Jack's turn, he says that he isn't good at anything. But Miss Lucinda recognizes that he's good at remembering - he has remembered all the other children's names and talents. This story not only encourages children to identify their talents, but also shows them how to do this and gives examples of big and small things they can be proud of - from soccer and spelling to bug catching and dog training.

Ages: 2-6
Cultural Context: multicultural

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sharing Is Fun by Joanna Cole

Illustrated by Maxie Chambliss. 32 p., HarperCollins, 2004.

Andrew's friends Emily and Joshua are coming over for a play date. He and Mommy get ready by baking cookies and preparing a pitcher of juice. They also put away toys that Andrew doesn't want to share, and Mommy reminds him to share his other toys. The three preschoolers have fun playing, mostly each on his or her own. At one point Andrew wants to play with his fire truck while Emily is playing with it, and Mommy tells him it will be his turn when Emily is all done. He finds another toy to play with while he's waiting. Sharing is an important part of friendship, and this story shows young children how to share, and a way to cope when they can't have what they want.

Ages: 1-4
Cultural Context: European American

Sunday, March 1, 2009

How To Be by Lisa Brown

32 p., HarperCollins, 2006

Imagination is not only fun, but also, it's good for you. In encouraging children to make believe they are a bear, a monkey, and other animals, this story shows them that learning these animals' attributes will also teach them how to be human. For example, when you make believe you're a bear, you should be brave, and to be a person, you should also be brave. Together, the text and the rather old-fashioned color illustrations inspire a sense of playfulness. Children will understand that they can take make-believe with them into all aspects of their lives.

Ages: 0-3
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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