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, July 26, 2009

My School/Mi Escuela by Ginger Foglesong Guy

Illustrated by Viví Escrivá. 18 p., Rayo, 2006.

When children start school, they need to know what they'll find there. This bilingual (English/Spanish) book uses single words to answer children's questions - "children," "classroom," "teacher," indoor and outdoor equipment and materials, an owie on the playground, and finally, "friends" at "my school." Illustrated with delightful, friendly watercolors, this book can help even the youngest children learn about school, as well as learning some very useful everyday words in another language.

Ages: 1-5
Cultural Context: multicultural

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Mrs. Gorski, I Think I Have the Wiggle Fidgets by Barbara Esham

Illustrated by Mike Gordon and Carl Gordon. 30 p., Mainstream Connections, 2008.

Children who have ADHD may struggle with controlling their impulses. Such is the case with David, who explains that he upsets his teacher, Mrs. Gorski, every day, even though he doesn't want to. Finally Mrs. Gorski sends a note to his parents. His father dismisses her concerns: "'David just has the wiggle fidgets. I had the wiggle fidgets when I was a kid.'" But Mrs. Gorski wants to meet with the family. Before then, David decides to think of a cure for the "wiggle fidgets." He brings four cures to the meeting. First, he makes cards to put on his desk that say things like "FOCUS and LISTEN" and "What are the CONSEQUENCES?" He also brings a timer because he if he knows how long it's necessary to pay attention, he doesn't have to wonder about that, which presumably would distract him. Third, he brings a stress ball to fidget with, which helps him pay attention. Finally, he proposes that he be allowed to do things that involve physical activity, such as erasing the blackboard. Mrs. Gorski approves of these ideas and plans to implement them. In fact, it turns out that as a child, she had the "wiggle fidgets" too! As the story ends, she tells David, "many great minds come with the wiggle fidgets." This story supplies empathy for children who really do want to do what they're expected to. Not only does it present some helpful strategies for coping with ADHD, but also, it shows kids that kids who have ADHD may do an excellent job taking initiative and solving problems. These attributes make this story an excellent resource to support children in coping with ADHD.

Ages: 6-10
Cultural Context: multicultural

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Apple Doll by Elisa Kleven

32 p., Farrar Straus Giroux, 2007.

Starting school for the first time can bring concerns about being away from home and about making new friends. In this story, Lizzy is worried about both. She finds a great way to bring the security of home with her: her favorite thing at home is the apple tree in her yard, and she brings one of its apples, which comforts her when she misses home. But it isn't just an apple. Lizzy gives the apple a face and a stick body, and names her Susanna, and in Lizzy's imagination, Susanna promises to be her friend in this scary new place. When children tease Susanna, Lizzy tells her she doesn't have to go to school any more, but then Lizzy is lonely at school. Meanwhile, at home, her family is preserving apples for the winter, and they get the idea to preserve Susanna by drying her. She becomes a grandma doll that exudes strength, happiness, and wisdom. Lizzy's classmates are so impressed that her teacher invites her to show the class how to make apple people. After this, Lizzy and Susanna have lots of new friends. Instructions for making an apple doll are included. With colorful illustrations that are full of detail and energy, this story offers hope for bringing your own strength to a new and daunting experience.

Ages: 4-8
Cultural Context: multicultural

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Darkness by Mildred Pitts Walter

Illustrated by Marcia Jameson. 26 p., Simon & Schuster, 1995.

Whether or not you're afraid of the dark, wonderful things that happen there -- the beginning of human life in the darkness of the womb, the beginning of plant life and the formation of precious metals and stones in the darkness of the earth, and undersea life in the darkness of the sea. Even creative ideas begin in the darkness of inside the human mind. Because dreams are also mentioned as a benefit of darkness, this might be a less-appropriate choice for children who fear bad dreams. If this isn't a concern, this book can help change fearful children's perspectives on the dark to one of appreciation of its growth-promoting properties.

Ages: 1-7
Cultural Context: multicultural

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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