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, June 28, 2009

Tío Armando by Florence Parry Heide and Roxanne Heide Pierce

Illustrated by Ann Grifalconi. 32 p., Lothrop, Lee & Shepard, 1998.

To resolve grief, children need to keep someone they love in their heart even after the person has died. Lucitita's favorite great-uncle, Tío Armando, comes to live with her, her parents, and her brothers and sister. During a year in the family's life, Tío Armando shows kindness, generosity, wisdom, and a remarkable capacity to bring the family together. He tells Lucitita that he will never leave her. When he dies at the end of the year, Lucitita feels sadness beyond tears, and at the same time understands that he will always be with her, beautifully illustrating this paradoxical combination that is a central component of mourning.

Ages: 5-9
Cultural Context: Latina

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Brenda Berman, Wedding Expert by Jane Breskin Zalben

Illustrated by Victoria Chess. 48 p., Clarion, 2009.

Sometimes a blended family comes in the form of the marriage of a favorite uncle who you thought you had all to yourself. Such is the case for Brenda when her favorite Uncle Harry announces his engagement. Brenda will have to share Uncle Harry not only with her new Aunt Florrie, but also with Florrie's niece, her new cousin Lucy. And to top it all off, Brenda has always dreamed very specific dreams of being a flower girl at a wedding, but now the wedding plans will be made according to Florrie's preferences. Brenda is absolutely sure that she'll never like Lucy or forgive Uncle Harry. But when things don't go the way she expects, she enlists Lucy in a plan to make them right. The two girls end up as good friends, Brenda's special vision is acknowledged and appreciated, and Brenda forgives Uncle Harry and accepts her new family. With Brenda, children can learn that even though you can't always have things the way you want them, you can not only survive what feels like disaster, but you can also discover good experiences that you never would have predicted.

Ages: 6-9
Cultural Context: European American

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Little Elephant With a Big Earache by Charlotte Cowan, MD

Illustrated by Elaine Garvin. 32 p., Hippocratic Press, 2004.

Earaches are virtually universal among young children. They can worry kids, particularly when they start during the night, as so often happens. This is the experience of Eddie the elephant, just when his cousins have come to celebrate his birthday with him. His mom takes his temperature, gives him medicine and lots of reassurance, and rocks him back to sleep. In the morning, she takes him to Dr. Hippo. Gentle Dr. Hippo asks Eddie's mom to monitor the fever and malaise and to bring him back if he gets worse. Eddie's infection clears up quickly on its own, and he enjoys his birthday party. Eddie is a good role model - he expresses his concerns, but tolerates discomfort. For example, he hates his bad-tasting medicine, but swallows it, and at Dr. Hippo's office, he wants to go home, but stays. He also takes good care of himself by finding his mom when he feels sick. There are some wonderful details of anthropomorphized elephant life - when it's time for dinner, Eddie's mom tells the kids to squirt themselves off! The illustrations are colorful and child-friendly, with very expressive faces. A separate guide for parents (in a pocket inside the back cover) gives helpful information and advice about caring for and seeking medical help for a child with an ear infection. Fun and exuberant while still acknowledging the realities of kids' fear and pain, this sweet story provides age-appropriate information and reassurance about ear infections.

Ages: 2-7
Cultural Context: non-human

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Big Brother Dustin by Alden R. Carter

Illustrated by Dan Young and Carol Carter. 32 p., Whitman, 1997.

Dustin's parents bring home great news: they are going to have a baby girl. Dustin is very excited. He helps get the baby's room ready, takes a class for older siblings at the hospital, and, with his mother, reads a book about having a new baby in your family. But his biggest job is thinking of a name for the baby. He works hard at this, and comes up with the perfect name, MaryAnn, after his grandmothers, Mary and Ann. The story ends with a delightful album of pictures of Dustin and MaryAnn playing together. Dustin has Down syndrome. Illustrated with emotionally resonant color photographs, this story conveys excitement and warmth.

Ages: 3-7
Cultural Context: European American

About the Author

My photo
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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