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, September 27, 2009

The Princess and the Potty by Wendy Cheyette Lewison.

Illustrated by Rick Brown. 33 p., Simon & Schuster, 1994.

A little princess refuses to use her potty because it "doesn't please" her. Her parents try fancy potties, singing and reading to her, making sure she has company, and sitting on the potties themselves, but nothing motivates the princess. A royal wise man tells them that she'll use the potty when she wants to. What finally motivates her is getting "pantalettes" like her mother's. When she has these, she'd rather use the potty, because if she put on a diaper, she'd have to take the pantalettes off. A limitation is that the king and queen are depicted as worrying about what the neighbors will say about the princess's refusal to use the potty. The gently humorous illustrations depict the princess's facial expressions particularly well. Children who don't want to use the potty can find empathy in this story. If they are struggling with issues around who has control, this story can help them to realize that choosing to use the potty can actually be an active choice on their part.

Ages: 2-5
Cultural Context: multicultural

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Dad and Me in the Morning by Patricia Lakin

Illustrated by Robert G. Steele. 32 p., Whitman, 1994.

Jacob, a child of about five who is deaf, gets up early with his father so they can watch the sun rise on the beach together. Jacob sees a rabbit, smells fragrant pine trees, and feels the sand, shells, and seaweed underfoot as he waits excitedly for the sun. He feels a sense of wonder as the day finally dawns. The closeness between Jacob and his Dad shows kids the joy and safety of sharing a special time with someone who understands them.

Ages: 4-8
Cultural Context: European American

Sunday, September 13, 2009

There's a Little Bit of Me in Jamey by Diana M .Amadeo

Illustrated by Judith Friedman. 32 p., Whitman, 1989.

Brian's little brother, Jamey, has leukemia. The story begins with Jamey receiving chemotherapy in the hospital. Brian's feelings of abandonment and anger are depicted sensitively, and his parents are responsive to them. Jamey becomes ill again and receives radiation treatment. Brian's parents tell him that Jamey needs a bone marrow transplant from him. Brian is afraid, but he decides to do it because he loves Jamey and wants him to get well. The story ends with Brian's hope that Jamey will be able to come home and get well because of the transplant. It offers empathy for children whose sibling is seriously ill, and hope that their actions can make a genuinely positive difference.

Ages: 8-12
Cultural Context: European American

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Timothy Duck: The Story of the Death of a Friend (revised edition) by Lynn Bennett Blackburn

Illustrated by D. L. Godfrey. 24 p., Centering Corp., 1999.

Timothy is a special duck because he wonders about the reasons for lots of things. He makes friends with John, a boy who also wonders a great deal, and who talks to Timothy and feeds him special treats. As time goes on, John becomes less active, and Timothy's mother explains that John may be sick. Timothy feels angry and scared, wondering whether children can die. Eventually, John's mother and sister come to the pond without John, and Timothy realizes that he has died. Timothy says goodbye to John at his burial. He expresses feelings of confusion, anger, and vulnerability. He is afraid to love because he risks the death of the one he loves, yet he realizes that he would feel even more empty if he didn't love anyone. A talk with a duck friend, who has endured the death of her sister, helps. A year later, he remembers the emptiness he'd felt when John died, but realizes that he will always have his memories of John, and that he can survive grief. This story offers children empathy with complex feelings, along with gentle reassurance that they, too, can tolerate grief.

Ages: 6-9
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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