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, October 25, 2010

Keep Your Ear on the Ball by Genevieve Petrillo

Illustrated by Lea Lyon. 32 p., Tilbury House, 2007.
All of us need both independence and help from other people, needs that can sometimes seem to conflict. In this story, Davey, who is blind, joins a class of sighted children. His classmates offer help appropriately, and his response is always, "Thanks, but no thanks." Although he manages almost all the activities of the school day completely independently, he struggles with kickball. He misses pitches and doesn't know which direction to run in. As they complain to one another, his classmates realize that he needs sounds to help him play. When they use sound to help him kick and run, he not only plays impressively, but also finds that he can tolerate accepting help. With Davey, kids can learn that it's possible to negotiate their needs for help and independence in satisfying ways - and with his classmates, kids can learn how to be genuinely helpful.

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

Monday, October 18, 2010

Say Something by Peggy Moss

Illustrated by Lea Lyon. 32 p., Tilbury House, 2004.

When someone is being bullied, it isn't enough to refrain from joining in the bullying. A girl discovers this when her friends are away and she eats alone at school one day. She's noticed when other kids are bullied, and she feels sorry for them. She doesn't say anything. When kids tease her at lunch, she can tell that the kids at the next table feel sorry for her, but they don't say anything. Suddenly understanding what her silence has meant to other kids who were bullied, she realizes what she wants to do. The next day, she joins a girl who has been bullied before, and finds a new friend. An afterword for kids suggests alternatives to standing by when someone is bullied. Inspiring empathy, this story will empower kids to help end bullying.

Ages 5-8
Main character's cultural background: ambiguous; perhaps African American or Latina
Cultural context: multicultural

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf

Illustrated by Robert Lawson. 70 p., Viking, 1936.

This is a classic story about a young bull who wants to do nothing but sit and smell the flowers. Completely by accident, he is chosen for a bullfight, and when he enters the ring, he sits down and smells the ladies' flowers, to the great frustration of the bullfighters. He goes home, happy to sit under his favorite tree and smell the flowers. This story expresses the idea that males don't have to be aggressive or violent.

Ages 4-6
Main character's cultural background: non-human
Cultural context: non-human

Monday, October 4, 2010

Henry and the Bully by Nancy Carlson

32 p., Penguin, 2010.

Sometimes it takes more than one approach to end bullying. First-grader Henry accidentally bumps into a new second grader, Sam, who reacts by kicking Henry's ball out of reach. When Henry protests, her response is hostile. Henry asks a teacher for help, and the teacher promises to protect him. But at the next few recesses, the teacher is distracted and Sam continues to bully Henry. Henry experiences typical childhood signs of stress: unhappiness, a tummy ache, difficulty concentrating, and fear of going to school. Then, by chance, he sees Sam in an embarrassing situation away from school, and when they're back at school, she threatens to kick his ball into space if he tells. Henry responds with kindness and empathy, which clearly come naturally to him and which stuns Sam. Then he invites her to play with him, and all the kids have fun. Henry's world has become a safer place. Illustrated with colorful, vivid animal characters and displaying genuine understanding of children's experience, this appealing story shows children that just being their best selves may be enough to stop someone from bullying them.

Ages 5-11
Main character's cultural background: non-human
Cultural context: non-human:

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