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.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Badger's Parting Gifts by Susan Varley

25 p., Lothrop, Lee & Shepard, 1984.

Badger is old and unable to walk without a cane, and knows that it will be time to die soon. He isn't afraid of this; just concerned about his friends' experiences of losing him. After writing a brief goodbye note to them, Badger dies - expressed as an extraordinary dream of running down a tunnel. Badger's friends lovingly remember all the things he's taught them to do well. Each of these skills is a special gift. To one of the animals, it seems as if Badger can feel his gratitude for this gift. This story shows children that although sadness is part of death, so is keeping with us something we've gained from our closeness with the person who has died.

Ages 3-7
Main character's cultural background: non-human
Cultural context: non-human

Monday, March 22, 2010

Incredible Me! by Kathi Appelt

Illustrated by G. Brian Karas. 32 p., HarperCollins, 2003.

In this rhyming book, a girl joyfully celebrates her unique individuality. No one else has the same nose, the same smile, or even the same way of chewing, crying, or itching. Because of this, she sees herself as marvelous, spectacular, adorable, and incredible. This book will promote a positive self-image that's based on uniqueness, rather than competition, perfectionism, or a need to ignore one's limitations.

Ages 3-7
Main character's cultural background: European American
Cultural context: European American

Monday, March 15, 2010

Lost and Found: Remembering A Sister by Ellen Yeomans

Illustrated by Dee deRosa. 33 p., Centering Corporation, 2000.

A girl describes her and her family's emotional reactions when her older sister, Paige, dies of cancer. Her sense of emptiness is especially poignant. The girl introduces the idea that someone who has died is "lost" while being clear that Paige has, in fact, died. This allows her to use the metaphor of "finding" Paige to describe finding a new way to be connected to her after her death - she finds Paige in her heart. The illustrations often have a semi-abstract quality and are evocative of the feelings expressed in the text. Each also includes one emotionally loaded word, such as "lost," "sorry," "anger," "alone," "love." This story offers children empathy with their loss and hope for its resolution.

Ages 4-8
Main character's cultural background: not stated
Cultural context: not stated

Sunday, March 7, 2010

My Mom Travels a Lot by Caroline Feller Bauer

Illustrated by Nancy Winslow Parker. 38 p., Puffin, 1981.

A girl describes the advantages and disadvantages of her mom's frequent travel. The girl misses Mom's goodnight kiss, and Mom misses some important events. The house is sloppier, which is both an advantage and a disadvantage in the girl's eyes. And Dad just isn't as good at finding the girl's boots as Mom is. On the other hand, the girl gets to go to the airport and to eat at restaurants more often, and gets phone calls, postcards, and presents. And the biggest advantage is that Mom always comes home. This story offers acknowledgment of children's unhappiness about their parents' traveling, along with reassurance that their parents will always come home.

Ages 3-7
Main character's cultural background: European American
Cultural context: European American

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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