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, March 21, 2011

Owen and Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship by Isabella Hatkoff, Craig Hatkoff, and Paula Kahumbu

Illustrated by Peter Greste. 32 p., Scholastic, 2006.

If we keep our minds open, friendships can happen when we least expect them. In this remarkable true story, a baby hippopotamus named Owen and a 130-year-old tortoise named Mzee become the best of friends. Owen lived near a village in Kenya with his mother and their pod (group) of hippos, when a tsunami left him alone in the sea. With great difficulty, villagers and visitors rescued him, and he was taken to an animal sanctuary about 50 miles away. There he met Mzee, who was generally unfriendly to everyone except for the chief animal caretaker there. As soon as Owen arrived, he went right to Mzee and hid behind him, just as he might have hidden behind his mother. Mzee initially rejected this attention, but Owen persisted, and by the next morning, they were snuggling together. Soon, Owen began to eat, but only when he was with Mzee. The two animals became inseparable, playing affectionately together. Two years later, when this book was published, they remained the best of friends. Illustrated with color photographs, this story shows children that even in dire circumstances, completely unexpected friendships can form and can make all the difference in the world.

Ages 4-8
Main character's cultural background: non-human
Cultural context: multicultural:

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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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