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, August 30, 2010

Mike and Tony: Best Friends by Harriet Ziefert

Illustrated by Catherine Siracusa. 20 p., Viking Kestrel, 1987.

Mike and Tony are friends who have a positive, cooperative relationship. One evening they have a pillow fight, which leads to an argument about who won. Mike stomps off. With his mother's help, Tony finds Mike. Although Mike is still angry, they're able to agree that no one won, and to be friends again. This story shows children that even good friends disagree and fight, but when they put their friendship ahead of the disagreement, they can find a way to stay friends.

Ages 4-7
Main character's cultural background: European American
Cultural context: multicultural

Monday, August 23, 2010

Hurricane! by Jonathan London

Illustrated by Henri Sorensen. 32 p., Lothrop, Lee & Shepard, 1998.

A boy and his brother, who live in Puerto Rico, go snorkeling on an ordinary day, when a hurricane comes suddenly. The children, their parents, and their dog hurry in their car to a shelter. The hurricane shatters a window of the shelter. People sing "Silent Night" together, because it "made us feel better." When the storm is over, the family goes home, and finds their house still standing, although there is debris from trees. The boy feels that little has changed. The next day, he and his brother run to play at the beach again - everything is all right. This story shows that even in a disaster, there is a way to be safe, and the disaster will pass.

Ages 5-8
Main character's cultural background: European American
Cultural context: multicultural

Monday, August 16, 2010

Blueberries for the Queen by John Paterson and Katherine Paterson

Illustrated by Susan Jeffers. 32 p., HarperCollins, 2004.

During World War II, William is too young to do war work like his parents, or even his older brother, who helps at a farm. But he often wins the war in his imagination. When Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands comes to stay in his town for a few months, he wants to visit her. He thinks she doesn't come to meet him because he's too young to do war work. Even when William helps his Dad pick blueberries, he wonders whether that could be considered war work somehow. Dad wisely tells him that picking blueberries is peace work, because eating blueberries makes people feel happy. This gives William an idea. He picks a basketful of blueberries, and in spite of his brother's teasing, takes them to the queen. He is allowed to give them to her himself, and she thanks him graciously. As a result of this experience, William comes to value his capacity for peace work. According to an afterword, this story is based on a real event in the author's life. This story works against children's sense of helplessness related to war by showing them a way to value their positive contributions.

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

Monday, August 9, 2010

When You Go to Kindergarten by James Howe

Illustrated by Betsy Imershein. 48 p., Morrow, 1994.

This non-fiction book, which is illustrated with photographs, describes kindergarten activities, and anticipates questions that many children may have about kindergarten (for example, What if I get lost? Where is the bathroom?). The emphasis is on day-to-day activities, such as listening to stories and painting, but there are also reassuring statements about children's feelings; for example, that it may be hard when you don't know anyone, but soon you'll make friends. The distinction between kindergarten and preschool or day care is made explicitly. This book is fairly regionally specific: photographs are of schools in the New York City area, the term "nursery school" is used exclusively (rather than preschool), and the author tells children that they will probably take a school bus, or maybe have someone walk them to school (although in other places children are often driven to school in cars). An introduction for parents is included. This book gives children lots of information about what happens in kindergarten in a matter-of-fact, positive way.

Ages 4-6
Main character's cultural background: none
Cultural context: multicultural

Monday, August 2, 2010

Muskrat Will Be Swimming by Cheryl Savageau

Illustrated by Robert Hynes. 32 p., Tilbury House, 1996.

When other kids call you names as an ethnic insult, sometimes you can reclaim the name in a positive way. Such is the case for Jeannie, who is of Native American and French descent. At her school there are two groups of kids. One group lives "uptown" in clean white houses and wear brand-new clothes. Jeannie belongs to the other group, who live in trailers and old cottages by the lake. When she tries to tell the "uptown" kids about the wonders of the lake, they respond using words like "dirty," "gross," and "crazy." They call Jeannie and her neighbors Lake Rats, which hurts her feelings. Jeannie confides in her Grampa, who uses a traditional Native American creation story to help her to see Lake Rats in a whole new way - as representing creative force. In a dream, she identifies with this creative force, an identification that her Grampa understands. Then she doesn't have to worry any more when kids call her a Lake Rat. Using the wisdom inherent in her culture and her Grampa's support, she has transformed and detoxified an insult.

Ages 4-7
Main character's cultural background: Native 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.

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