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, April 26, 2010

One More Wednesday by Malika Doray

Translated by Suzanne Freeman. 48 p., Greenwillow, 2001.

A rabbit child (who can be seen as either male or female) remembers the enjoyment of spending Wednesdays with Granny. The child remembers how one Wednesday, they could not spend the day together because Granny was in the hospital, and then died. When the family attends Granny's funeral, the child wonders whether this means she is gone forever. Mama responds that no one knows for sure what happens after death, but that in some way, Granny will always be with the child because the child loves her. The child is sad at first, but later has happy memories of the time with Granny. This story shows children how good memories can comfort them when someone has died.
Ages 4-7

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

Monday, April 19, 2010

Playing War by Kathy Beckwith

Illustrated by Lea Lyon. 32 p., Tilbury House, 2005.

In the United States and other countries, children often see war as an abstract concept or even a way to be powerful. In this story, five children decide to play war, using sticks as guns and pine cones as grenades. One child, Luke, says he wishes that kids could really fight a war. But another child, Sameer, has had personal experience with this. When the others hear this, they're impressed at first. But when he tells them that in a war, his house was destroyed and his parents and brother killed, they realize that war is about harming children and families. Feeling sad and protective, Luke ends the game of war and decides that basketball is a much better idea. Through this story, children will begin to understand the realities of war, and to realize that it is anything but a game.

Ages 4-8
Main character's cultural background: no one main character
Cultural context: multicultural

TV Turn-Off Week starts today!

TV Turn-Off Week is April 19–25! The goal of TV Turn-Off Week is to re-think TV's role in our lives and to gain a better understanding of why and how we use it.

To participate, just turn off your TV and do other things. A perfect choice would be to read a book! This blog and your librarian have lots of places to start.

More information about TV-Turn-Off Week (and more alternative activities) is at TV Turnoff Network and Wikipedia.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Evie & Margie by Bernard Waber

32 p., Houghton Mifflin/Walter Lorraine, 2003.

Evie and Margie are best friends who dream together of being actors someday. Then they both decide to try out for the part of Cinderella in the class play. Margie is clearly the best at crying at will, and the tricks she teaches Evie to do this are too disturbing to Evie, and don't work for her anyway. Margie gets the part, and Evie is chosen as Margie's understudy. Evie is painfully disappointed, and when she gets home, she really cries. She realizes she's also jealous of Margie, and that upsets her. When Margie is sick on the day of the play, Evie plays the role of Cinderella, and has no difficulty crying at the appropriate time when she thinks about her disappointment in not getting the part, Margie's disappointment in missing out on her big day, and how awful it feels to be jealous. But a second performance is planned, and Margie gets to play Cinderella. Evie discloses her jealousy to Margie, who responds by saying that she had been jealous too. They're both relieved, and can be friends again. This story shows children how jealousy can disrupt a friendship, and how a strong friendship can survive it.

Ages 4-8
Main character's cultural background: non-human
Cultural context: non-human

Monday, April 5, 2010

Shades of Black: A Celebration of Our Children by Sandra L. Pinkney

Illustrated by Myles C. Pinkney. 28 p., Scholastic, 2000.

This book celebrates the diversity of African American children with photographs showing many different skin tones, hair textures, and eye colors. The text expresses pride in all these variations. This book presents a positive message of acceptance of the unique aspects of one's appearance.

Ages 3-7
Main character's cultural background: none
Cultural context: African American

About the Author

My photo
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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