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, July 26, 2010

Where The Balloons Go by Paul Coleman

Illustrated by Elizabeth Wilda. 50 p., Centering Corporation, 1996.

Corey and his beloved Grandma enjoy watching balloons together. Corey asks Grandma where they go when they fly away. She suggests that they go to the Balloon Forest, a field where there are millions of balloons, which she has seen only in her dreams. As time goes on, Grandma more often doesn't feel well, and eventually is seriously ill and hospitalized. Corey brings her a balloon, over his parents' objections. When she dies the next day, Corey thinks she might be in the Balloon Forest, and tries to fly there using his imagination and a bunch of helium balloons. This experience leaves him with a need to tell Grandma he loves her. He writes, "I love you, my Grandma" on a piece of paper that he attaches to a balloon and releases into the sky. His father, who seems somewhat distant earlier in the story, joins with him in this. This story shows children a way to keep a connection with someone who has died.

Ages 6-9
Main character's cultural background: European American
Cultural context: European American

Monday, July 19, 2010

I Don't Want To! by Sally Grindley

Illustrated by Carol Thompson. 26 p., Little, Brown, 1990.

Jim doesn't want to get up, put on his new clothes, eat breakfast, or, especially, go to school. His parents tell him that he'll like school, but, looking teary, he disagrees. He wants to go home all the way to school. When he gets to school, he doesn't want to paint, but it looks like fun, in spite of his attempts to ignore it. He decides to join in, and finds that he can't help enjoying painting and the other fun things that kids do there. When it's time to go home, his familiar refrain resumes -- he doesn't want to. But he's able to allow himself to want to go back to school the next day. This story might be a particularly good choice for a child who's in phase of saying No to everything and has expressed a wish to avoid school (without any particular concerns about separation), since it shows a transformation from this negativism to enjoyment of school.

Ages 2-5
Main character's cultural background: European American
Cultural context: multicultural

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Worry Stone by Marianna Dengler

Illustrated by Sybil Graber Gerig. 40 p., Rising Moon, 1996.

As this story begins, Amanda is an elderly woman, sitting on a bench at the park and recalling her childhood. She remembers her grandfather, and especially his stories. One of his special stories is about the origin of worry stones, which the author describes in a foreword as not an authentic Chumash tale, but one which she hopes is consistent with the spirit of the Chumash people. In Grandfather's story, worry stones are the tears of Tokatu, a woman whose husband has died immediately after their marriage. Death is described as being taken away by the Wind of Time. Grandfather says that whoever finds a worry stone will be comforted, no matter what troubles they have. The worry stone helps Amanda resolve her grief when Grandfather dies. The story returns to the park, where a sad-looking boy sits on the bench with Amanda. She gives him the worry stone, and begins to share Grandfather's stories with him, healing both the boy and herself. Children will understand that sharing treasures can forge connections that ease loneliness.

Ages 6-10
Main character's cultural background: European American
Cultural context: multicultural

Monday, July 5, 2010

When the Bees Fly Home by Andrea Cheng

Illustrated by Joline McFadden. 32 p., Tilbury House, 2002.

Sometimes, arbitrary expectations - from ourselves or others - can lead to overlooking our real talents. Such is the case for Jonathan, who tries to help his beekeeper father. Jonathan is slender and not particularly strong; even his little brother seems more muscular. He senses his father's disappointment in him. Jonathan also has a creative talent: he makes tiny sculptures from beeswax. When it occurs to him to decorate his mother's homemade candles with these, they sell more candles than ever before, making a huge economic contribution to their struggling family. Because of Jonathan's candle decorations, this family is going to be all right. With Jonathan, children can learn to celebrate their strengths, as well as understanding that it's possible to be a successful male without conforming to a gender stereotype - even one that may seem reasonable. Each page also includes facts about bees, and there is a resource list for insect information at the end.

Ages 4-8
Main character's cultural background: European American
Cultural context: multicultural

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.

Blog Archive