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, May 30, 2011

The A.D.D. Book for Kids by Shelley Rotner and Sheila Kelly, Ed.D.

Illustrated by Shelley Rotner. 32 p., Millbrook, 2000.

When kids struggle with attention, organization, and self-control, help and empathy are important. This non-fiction book addresses symptoms of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder - Predominantly Inattentive Type, also known as Attention Deficit Disorder or ADD. It tells what the symptoms feel like from a child's perspective, and mentions several ways that teaches and parents can help (for example, giving one assignment at a time, making a written chore chart), as well as mentioning medication. The authors reassure children that they aren't to blame for an attention disorder, and that having one doesn't mean that the child isn't smart. The book ends on an upbeat note, with hope for success. Illustrated with color photographs of children in their day-to-day lives, this child-friendly book helps kids understand attention disorder and supports their self-esteem and hopefulness.

Ages 4-8
Cultural context: multicultural

Monday, May 23, 2011

Mr. Worry: A Story about OCD by Holly L. Niner

Illustrated by Greg Swearingen. 32 p., Whitman, 2006.

When children worry repeatedly (for example, about germs, illness, doing or thinking bad things, or things not being "right"), and when they develop behaviors intended to manage those worries (for example, repeatedly counting things or checking things, repeatedly asking the same question, washing their hands very often, doing things in a certain order, or putting things in order, they may have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Kevin experiences both obsessions and compulsions in this story - he worries about whether he did his homework and put it in his backpack, he worries that he might have cancer, he worries that there's a light under his bed, and he worries that his mother might be an alien. He asks both his mother and his teacher the same questions over and over again, and checks under his bed repeatedly. He has to have his chair in a certain place before he goes to sleep. Having all these worries makes him worry that he's crazy. When he tells his mother about some of them, she assures him that his parents will help. They take him to see Dr. Fraser, who educates him about OCD, explaining that his obsessive thoughts are like wrong numbers on the phone and that she will teach him to hang up on those messages. He takes medicine and they pick one compulsive behavior a week to stop. Kevin's mother supports him by encouraging him to tell "Mr. Worry" that Kevin is in charge and won't listen to him. Although the worries sometimes come back when he's tired or overly busy, he makes progress. The frequency of his therapy visits is reduced. This story depicts cognitive behavior therapy, one of several approaches that can be used to help children with OCD. Children who are receiving this form of therapy for OCD will find this book empathic, affirming, and hopeful.

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

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Perfect Tail: A Fred and Lulu Story by Mie Araki

32 p., Chronicle, 2004.

When you admire others, sometimes you lose track of your own strengths. Such is the case for Fred, a little bunny who admires other animals' tails. A raccoon's tail has beautiful stripes, a mouse's tail is wonderfully long, a peacock's tail is fantastically colorful, and a porcupine's tail is impressively spiky. When Fred tries to emulate these tails, they don't work for him - for example, when he puts toothpicks on his tail to make it spiky, it hurts to sit down. So Fred is surprised when Lulu, a rhinoceros, complements his tail, specifically because it's "not too stripy...not too long...not to colorful...not too spiky." Fred and Lulu spend a fun day together, Fred happily unencumbered by his "enhanced" tails. He is even able to offer Lulu a compliment. The heavily-outlined illustrations are engaging and expressive. This story delivers a powerful message about both the value of being yourself and the importance of how you feel compared to how you look.

Ages 3-6
Main character's cultural background: non-human
Cultural context: non-human

Monday, May 9, 2011

All About Asthma by William Ostrow and Vivian Ostrow

Illustrated by Blanche Sims. 40 p., Whitman, 1989.

The first author, a fourth-grader, tells other kids about his own experiences with asthma, and how scared and confused he felt at first. He shares what he learned about what asthma is and self-care for asthma. He also discusses his feelings of aloneness when he was first diagnosed, writes about people with asthma who have achieved significant accomplishments, and invites readers to write to him if they want to talk with another kid who has asthma. Cartoon-like illustrations depict asthma as a furry little monster. This book offers kids helpful information, support, and empowerment through taking care of themselves.

Ages 7-12
Main character's cultural background: European American
Cultural context: multicultural

Monday, May 2, 2011

I Can't Stop! A Story about Tourette Syndrome by Holly L. Niner

Illustrated by Meryl Treatner. 32 p., Whitman, 2006.

Tourette's Syndrome can be difficult to understand and cope with, but knowledge, coping strategies, an understanding family, and caring friends can help. In this story, Nathan develops one tic and then another. His friends think his tics are weird, and other kids point and laugh. Because he doesn't have tics while swimming, even his mother thinks they're voluntary. Finally, Nathan's parents take him to a "special doctor," who diagnoses Tourette's Syndrome and explains it as a neurologic disorder. After this, Nathan's parents work with him to identify times when he's at higher risk for tics and ways to cope with them. Telling his best friend and his class about his diagnosis increases the support that's available to him. Nathan even finds that he can tell strangers about it. He learns to have a sense of humor about his tics. And as he kicks a goal while playing soccer, he realizes that tics aren't the only moves that he can make - he isn't defined by the disorder. A note to adults explains Tourette's Syndrome. This story will help children who have Tourette's feel optimistic about coping, and will help other children to be more understanding and accepting of the symptoms in those who do.

Ages 6-10
Main character's cultural background: European American
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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