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, January 17, 2010

The Penguin Who Lost Her Cool: A Story About Controlling Your Anger by Marla Sobel

Illustrated by Denise Gilgannon. 59 p., Childswork/Childsplay, 2000.

Penelope Penguin, an elementary school student, gets so angry - justifiably - when Splashy taunts her about her diving skills that she loses her concentration and dives poorly. Her friend Snow empathizes with her anger, and teaches her to take deep breaths and count to ten when she's angry to help her calm down, so that she doesn't do anything impulsive. But Penelope continues to react angrily to several provocations. Unfortunately, time out is used as a punishment rather than as a self-control technique, as she ends up in the "Chill Out" room, with the threat that if she loses her temper again, she won't be allowed to compete in tomorrow's diving contest. At the contest, Splashy again taunts Penelope about her diving skills. But this time Penelope remembers what to do. She breathes deeply, counts to ten, and performs a perfect dive. Splashy tries to provoke Penelope again, but Penelope is having none of it. She enjoys her successes at both diving and controlling her anger. An introduction for adults explains issues around anger control in children. Illustrated with black-and-white drawings. Children who struggle with anger will find empathy in Penelope's experiences, as well as a good role model for going from uncontrolled to controlled anger.

Ages: 5-10
Cultural Context: non-human

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Bear and Mrs. Duck by Elizabeth Winthrop

Illustrated by Patience Brewster. 32 p., Holiday House, 1988.

When Nora (who is about three or four years old) goes to the store, Mrs. Duck babysits Nora's Bear, who has a cold. Bear has a hard time letting Nora go, and at first refuses to play. Mrs. Duck understands that Bear misses Nora, Bear copes with her by drawing a picture of her. After this, he's able to enjoy playing with Mrs. Duck. In a happy reunion with Nora, Bear acknowledges his fun with Mrs. Duck while emphasizing his special love for Nora. This story shows children that they can love their parents, miss them, and cope with missing them by keeping an image of them close by; and can also enjoy a sitter.

Ages: 2-6
Cultural Context: European American

Sunday, January 3, 2010

We Can Get Along: A Child's Book of Choices by Lauren Murphy Payne

Illustrated by Claudia Rohling. 36 p., Free Spirit, 1997.

In this nonfiction book, the author describes what it feels like to get along with people, and how it feels when they don't get along. She suggests that children can use those feelings to make good choices in relationships; for example, maintaining self-control, listening, sharing, and problem-solving cooperatively. She comments that even though sometimes we may feel like hitting, it's never permissible to do that. She gives examples of positive ways to cope with having been hurt. The marker illustrations, which show children from a range of cultural backgrounds, have colorful, elaborate, child-friendly borders. A group leader's guide is available. This book offers children many accessible suggestions for specific behaviors that can help them make friends and can enhance their friendships.

Ages: 3-8
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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