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, September 27, 2010

Always, Always by Crescent Dragonwagon

Illustrated by Arieh Zeldich. 32 p., Macmillan, 1984.

A girl describes the transition between her mother's urban apartment, where she lives during the school year, and her father's cabin in the woods, where she lives during the summer. Her sadness about being away from each parent is acknowledged, as well as her joy in the special parts of her relationship with each parent and in the life she has with each of them. Although they're different in many ways, both parents will always love their daughter. Kids may ask why the girl travels alone on an airplane or is allowed to ride in a pickup truck bed. But her feelings of loving and missing each parent, and her sense of resolution in their shared love for her, offer empathy and hope to children whose parents have divorced.

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

Monday, September 20, 2010

Jason's Story: Going to a Foster Home by Deborah Anderson and Martha Finne

Illustrated by Jeanette Swofford. 47 p., Dillon Press, 1986.

Seven-year-old Jason was placed in a loving foster home during infancy, after being neglected by his 16-year-old single mother. At the age of two, he was reunited with his mother. Around the age of four, his mother repeatedly physically abused him, and he felt he was a bad boy. He was placed in another foster home, where he felt lonely. He learns from a new social worker that he is not to blame for his mother's troubles, and with this social worker's help, is again reunited with his mother, who has finally learned to care for him properly and to talk with him, not hit, when he does things he's not supposed to do. Jason's feelings about separation, angry feelings in his home, and multiple placements are addressed sensitively but realistically. This book contains a glossary and an afterword for adults. This book can help children understand what foster care is like, and is especially helpful in its emphasis on the idea that children in foster care are not to blame for their families' problems.

Ages 5-9
Main character's cultural background: African American
Cultural context: African American

Monday, September 13, 2010

Just Like Home / Como en Mi Tierra by Elizabeth I. Miller

Translated by Teresa Mlawer. Illustrated by Mira Reisberg. 32 p., Whitman, 1999.

This bilingual book tells the story of a Latino family's immigration to the United States. The daughter notices what is "just like home" and what is "not like home." The family stays with relatives for about two months until they get their own apartment. Although the kids at school aren't friendly, the girl's cousin helps her to get along there, but doesn't always include her with other children. Finally, when other children invite her to play, the girl has fun, and begins to feel at home. An appendix invites readers to find various objects on each page, encouraging monolingual readers to learn the language they don't know. This story conveys empathy with the experience of immigration, and the upbeat ending offers hope of a positive outcome.

Ages 3-8
Main character's cultural background: Latina
Cultural context: multicultural

Monday, September 6, 2010

Healing Feelings: A Healing Story for Children Coping With a Grownup's Mental Illness by Leslie Baker, M.A., MFT

24 p., Tate, 2010.

It can be confusing and upsetting when your parent, or another important adult, has a mental health problem. In this rhyming story, author and marriage and family therapist Leslie Baker demystifies adults' mental disorders. After reviewing feelings that are familiar to children, she explains that sometimes, adults' feelings don't work in the way they should, as a source of information that will "help our minds know where to guide us." She empathizes with children's sense of loss of the happy parent (or other adult) they once knew, and reassures kids that their adult will feel better again, with the help of therapists ("feeling healers") and physicians. Reading this story offers children understanding and hope in a painful situation.

More information about the book is available at The Healing Feelings Book.

Ages 3-8
Main character's cultural background: none
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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