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, June 28, 2010

Voices in the Park by Anthony Browne

32 p., DK Ink, 1998.

Four gorilla characters tell their stories of a walk in the park - an intensely snobbish mother; her bored, sad son; a sad, unemployed father; and his daughter. Seeing the story from different perspectives exposes the mother's prejudice against the father and daughter - "rough-looking", "frightful types" - and their "scruffy," "horrible" dog. (And in case this doesn't make it clear, the girl refers to the mother as a "silly twit"). Her son's prejudice is against the girl, because she is a girl, but when he's played with her for a short time, he realizes she's "nice" and hopes to see her again. This story provides a lesson in empathy that can help kids move past others' exteriors.

Ages 7-10
Main character's cultural background: non-human
Cultural context: non-human

Monday, June 21, 2010

You Hold Me and I'll Hold You by Jo Carson

Illustrated by Annie Cannon. 32 p., Orchard, 1992.

In this story, a girl's great-aunt, whom she is not particularly close to, dies. The story shows the girl's attempts to come to terms with what death means by comparing the experience to the loss of her sister's hamster. The girl, her sister, and her Daddy attend the funeral at a church. At the funeral, she's surprised and worried to see her step-grandmother, Grandpa, and Daddy crying - she hadn't realized that adults cried. Being held on her Daddy's lap helps her feel better. This story honestly addresses the girl's distress that results from the grief of the adults around her.

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

Monday, June 14, 2010

Loop the Loop by Barbara Dugan

Illustrated by James Stevenson. 32 p., Greenwillow, 1992.

Anne meets an old woman in a wheelchair, Mrs. Simpson, and they become friends, visiting the park together and playing games inside when it rains. Mrs. Simpson, who is suffering from dementia, is an expert at yo-yo tricks and an enthusiastic singer. Anne quietly buys a yo-yo and learns to do tricks with it. After a hip fracture, Mrs. Simpson moves to a nursing home, and her caregiver gives Mrs. Simpson's cat to Anne. Anne visits Mrs. Simpson, bringing the cat and her doll, Eleanor; she gives Eleanor to Mrs. Simpson. She delights Mrs. Simpson with yo-yo tricks. Anne shows children a way to cope with an older friend's dementia.

Ages 7-10
Main character's cultural background: European American
Cultural context: European American:

Monday, June 7, 2010

One of Us by Peggy Moss

Illustrated by Penny Weber. 32 p., Tilbury House, 2010.

Fitting in can be a complex and difficult process for children, and seems to be a concern at earlier and earlier ages. In this empathic, upbeat story, Roberta faces this difficulty when she enters a new school. She finds her new classmates very accepting - lots of kids tell her that she's "one of us." The only problem is, being "one of us" means being "the same" in very limited ways. For example, Roberta likes to play on the monkey bars, and she makes friends there with other children who have the same interest. But when she tries to eat lunch with them, they tell her that she has to eat with the kids whose lunchboxes look like hers. It seems as if whenever she has one attribute that allows her to fit in, something else about her leads kids to reject her. In spite of this, Roberta stays true to herself; for example, when a group who claims her rejects monkey bars, she follows her own natural inclination to play on them anyway. In spite of this, as the day goes on, Roberta feels more and more confused. Will she ever fit in? Finally, she meets Anna, "a trumpet-playing girl who likes baseball and car racing and ballet." Anna's friends have diverse interests, too. Not only that, but Anna values the differences among her friends! At last, Roberta has truly found her place. Reading this story, children can expand their ideas about what it means to fit in, and can find ways to fit in and still be themselves fully.

Ages 6-11
Main character's cultural background: ambiguous; perhaps African American, Latina, or European American
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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