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, January 31, 2011

Gila Monsters Meet You at the Airport by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat

Illustrated by Byron Barton. 32 p., Macmillan, 1980.

A child who is moving from New York City to "out West" expresses his stereotypes and worries about the West. On the way, he meets a western child who expresses stereotypes and worries about moving East. The child eventually finds out that a lot of the stereotypes are not true, and that the West, although unlike New York in many ways, is quite livable. This story is a good choice for children who have unrealistic worries about their new home and have trouble letting go of them.

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

Monday, January 24, 2011

When Joel Comes Home by Susi Gregg Fowler

Illustrated by Jim Fowler. 24 p., Greenwillow, 1993.

A girl's parents' best friends, Jean and George, are adopting a baby, and she anticipates all the details of his arrival as she and her parents join with other friends to greet them at the airport. Although things don't go quite the way she'd planned, there's a large crowd of friends at the airport to welcome the family, and their joy and excitement are palpable. As George has promised, the girl is the first to hold the baby, and this is the special moment she'd known it would be. This story offers a sense of identification to children who are welcoming a baby in similar circumstances, as well as a reminder that the connection between people is more important, and more real, than an imagined world where everything goes perfectly.

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

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Best Thing by Laura E. Williams

18 p., Bebop Books, 2003.

A six-year-old girl who was adopted from China at the age of five months by a European American couple introduces readers to her house, parents, brothers, grandma, Aunt Laura (the author), cat, and kindergarten class. She and Aunt Laura, who was adopted from Korea, agree that adoption was the best thing that's ever happened to them. No other details are given about feelings about adoption or the adoption process. Adoption is presented in a positive, natural way.

Ages 1-3
Main character's cultural background: Asian American
Cultural context: multicultural:

Monday, January 10, 2011

Emma by Wendy Kesselman

Illustrated by Barbara Cooney. 32 p., Doubleday, 1980.

Emma, a 72-year-old woman, is often lonely. When she is given a painting of the village where she grew up, she is inspired to paint her own picture, which is truer to her memories. She enjoys this so much that she paints every day. Surrounded by her own paintings of the people and places she loves, she is no longer lonely. This story is a good example of coping with loss by using creative imagination.

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

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Memory Box by Kirsten McLaughlin

Illustrated by Adrienne Rudolph. 32 p., Centering Corporation, 2001.

A boy wakes up to find his mother crying about the death, that night, of his grandfather. He expresses feelings of loss, abandonment, and anger, and thinks of the things they'll never do together again. His Mommy accepts, and encourages him to talk over, his feelings, and encourages him to keep his memories. As a way to do this, the child makes a memory box, filling it with Grandpa's reading glasses (which remind him of Grandpa's bedtime stories), seeds (which remind him of Grandpa's garden), and other things that remind him of his relationship with Grandpa. Importantly, he shares the box with Mommy. He plants seeds every spring, just as he used to with Grandpa. He expresses the ongoing sadness and joy that the memory box evokes for him. This story shows children a specific way to cope with their feelings of loss, and offers empathy and acceptance.

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

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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