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, August 30, 2009

I Love My Hair! by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley

Illustrated by E. B. Lewis. 26 p., Little, Brown, 1998.

Although it hurts when Keyana's Mama combs the tangled spots in her hair, the combing is part of a bedtime routine in which Keyana feels close to Mama. Mama tells her she's lucky to have this hair because it's beautiful, and she can wear it in any style she chooses. Keyana's descriptions of different hair styles, along with the watercolor illustrations, convey her deep sense of enjoyment of who she is and her pride in her African-American heritage. Children will understand how to use another person's support to transform a culturally devalued sense of self into a positive one.

Ages: 3-8
Cultural Context: African American

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Good-Bye, Bully Machine by Debbie Fox and Allan L. Beane

Illustrated by Debbie Fox. 48 p., Free Spirit, 2009.

Bullying is a pervasive problem in many environments. This non-fiction book uses the metaphor of bullying as a machine - scary, loud, powerful, cold, mean, and dangerous-looking - revealing the dehumanizing quality of bullying. The authors expose fundamentally abusive nature of bullying, saying that it is "trying to have power over somebody." They describe bullying as consisting of cruel speech and/or behavior, whether done openly or secretively. Clearly stating that being "a bully" is not an inherent characteristic, and that people can learn to stop bullying behavior, they describe who gets bullied, who bullies others, and how kids respond to bullying. Many suggestions for stopping bullying are included, including speaking kindly, telling a bully to stop specific behaviors, and reporting bullies. There's lots of encouragement for kids to stand together against bullying, and break down the machine. Illustrated with vibrant, inspiring collages, this book is a constructive resource for empowering children to end bullying.

Ages: 8-13
Cultural Context: none

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Stretching Ourselves: Kids with Cerebral Palsy by Alden R. Carter

Illustrated by Carol S. Carter. 40 p., Whitman, 2000.

In this book, when kids are frustrated, instead of cussing, they name vegetables. When Emily is impatient, she says, "Radishes!" When she tries to comb a snarl out of Lizzy's hair, Lizzy hollers, "Celery!" These kids have more frustrations than most, because they have cerebral palsy (CP). As Mr. Carter explains, children who have CP "most work hard to learn things that come easily to others" - things related to mobility, learning, and perception. He explains that Emily used to struggle with these frustrations, but she has learned ways to stay calm, which she practices just as she practices other skills. The author explains what CP is in child-friendly terms and shows ways that children with different types and degrees of impairment cope. Mr. Carter acknowledges each child's individuality and strengths. The sensitive, yet straightforward, color photographs work together with the text to create a sense of connection between the reader and characters. An introduction for adults and resource list are included. This book offers empathy to children who have CP, and will help children who don't have CP to feel more comfortable with children who do.

Ages: 6-10
Cultural Context: multicultural

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Moose with Loose Poops by Charlotte Cowan MD

Illustrated by Penelope Neal. 32 p., Hippocratic Press, 2009.

Vomiting and diarrhea can be frightening to children, especially when they don't understand what's happening. In this story, as four-year-old Miles the moose happily shares his excitement about an upcoming camping trip with his Papa, he finds himself not hungry, needing his special stuffed animal, and with a tummy ache that comes and goes. Suddenly, he throws up. His Mama explains that his tummy "emptied itself the wrong way," reassures him that he'll feel better soon, and takes him home to nap. The next day, he feels all better, but when he's out with Papa, he has diarrhea - which Papa anticipates when Miles describes his symptoms. Papa explains that Miles has "pooped out the germs that made [him] sick," and reminds him to wash his hands. He and Miles's sister assure him that everyone has had diarrhea at some time. They postpone the camping trip for a few days, and when they go, there are shooting stars. Dr. Cowan's language is wonderfully descriptive and kid-friendly; for example, Miles tells his Papa, "A waterfall's coming out of my bottom!" and there's a hand-washing song. The colorful illustrations reflect the active quality of children's lives. The book includes a separate guide for parents to coping with children's gastroenteritis. With empathy for both children's misery when they're sick and their enjoyment of special times with their families, this story gives kids the information and reassurance they need to cope with tummy bugs.

Ages: 2-7
Cultural Context: non-human

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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