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, December 27, 2010

Who's Afraid of the Dark? by Crosby Bonsall

32 p., Harper & Row, 1980.

A little boy tells a friend that his dog, Stella, is afraid of the dark. The boy is clearly empathic about Stella's fears, although he tells her that her fear is "silly" and provides rational explanations for the scary sounds she hears. His friend advises him to teach Stella not to be afraid by hugging her. The boy is finally able to relax when Stella jumps into bed with him. This story offers empathy to children who are afraid of the dark, along with hope that a favorite animal can lessen their fear.

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

Monday, December 20, 2010

Loudmouth George and the New Neighbors by Nancy L. Carlson

32 p., Lerner, 1997.

In this story, each family in a house is a different species. George, a rabbit, expresses overt prejudice against the new neighbors because they are pigs, but finally his friends and the new kids are having so much fun that he joins in and finds that he can have fun with them after all. When a family of cats moves in, George's first reaction is that they're too different from "us," but he only hesitates for a minute. This story is a good demonstration of how prejudice can keep us from meeting new friends.

Ages 4-7
Main character's cultural background: non-human
Cultural context: non-human

Monday, December 13, 2010

Nice Try, Tooth Fairy by Mary W. Olson

Illustrated by Katherine Tillotson. 28 p., Simon & Schuster, 2000.

This story is told as a series of letters from Emma to the tooth fairy. When Emma's grandfather comes to visit, she asks the tooth fairy to return the first tooth she lost, so she can show it to him. The tooth fairy returns many other kinds of teeth, including an elephant's tusk and a skunk's tooth, before finally returning the right one. Some children might be spooked by the animals coming to Emma's room at night to reclaim their teeth, or by the idea that the tooth fairy would be so disorganized. But for other kids, this playful story may enhance the fun of losing a tooth.

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

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Mushroom Man by Ethel Pochocki

Illustrated by Barry Moser. 32 p., Tilbury House, 1993.

It isn't always easy to find a friend, but when you find the right friend, it's wonderful. The mushroom man, who works at a mushroom farm, is a bit funny-looking, and children make fun of him. He is lonely, and eventually decides to have a pet. He meets the perfect cat, and is very happy for a while. But the cat is discontented living indoors, and leaves, and the mushroom man is alone again. Then he meets a mole. He and the mole have a lot in common, both spending their days in the dark and knowing a lot about mushrooms, and both lonely. It's difficult for the mole to trust a human, but he decides to risk it, and the two begin eating dinner together regularly. When winter comes, the mole is able to accept the mushroom man's invitation to live with him. It turns out that the mole is an excellent housekeeper. At Christmas, they celebrate the gift of their friendship. Each has survived other losses and found the right friend.

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

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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