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, December 13, 2009

Always My Brother by Jean Reagan

Illustrated by Phyllis Pollema-Cahill. 32 p., Tilbury, 2009.

One way to maintain a connection with someone who has died is to do things that person did. In this story, Becky and her bother, John, love to play soccer. John is a goalie, and he encourages Becky to be one too. But they agree that then they couldn't practice together, so she drops the idea. After John's death, Becky feels sad, lonely, incomplete, and occasionally angry. Her parents are reassuring, and the family dog is a special support, always loving her. Slowly, Becky is able to find moments of joy in everyday life. When soccer season approaches, Dad offers to play goalie in practice with her. But she finds herself impatient with Dad's limited goalie skills and takes his place - making the important discovery that she has John's goalie skills within her. She has realized that John is always with her, inside. In deciding to be her team's goalie, she completes her mourning process. Although John's death is mentioned very abruptly - perhaps reflecting Becky's experience of it - and nothing about its cause is mentioned, this story offers children hope for healing from grief.

Ages: 7-11
Cultural Context: multicultural

Sunday, December 6, 2009

This Place I Know: Poems of Comfort by Georgia Heard

46 p., Candlewick, 2002.

This Place I Know is an anthology of poems collected to offer comfort to the children who witnessed the tragedy of the World Trade Centers. Each poem is beautifully illustrated by a different distinguished artist. The poems acknowledge loss; one is an incantation against troubles. They remind children of the possibility of hope; encourage them to sustain their dreams; and speak of the comfort in having someone with you; the constancy of nature in spite of upheaval; the intrinsic liveliness of cities; and the potential for unity of people around the world. I only take issue with one poem, which says repeatedly, "Do not grieve," because when there is loss, we must grieve. This deeply moving collection is a source of support for children who have experienced loss or trauma in their many forms.

Ages: 6-11
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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