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, June 27, 2011

The Best Cat in the World by Lesléa Newman

Illustrated by Ronald Himler. 32 p., Eerdmans, 2004.

When a beloved pet dies, it's hard to make room in your heart for a new pet - but sometimes it's not only possible, but it makes room for a new source of joy. Victor has an elderly cat named Charlie whom he loves very much. Near the end of his life, the vet can't help him, and he dies. Victor and his mom bury Charlie in the backyard and plant a rosebush in his honor. Victor cries all the time for two days. He doesn't want to eat his favorite food. His mom, his, teacher, and his classmates are sympathetic and caring, but he still misses Charlie terribly. When his mom suggests a new cat, he just wants Charlie back. But then the vet calls. She has a kitten who needs a home. Victor agrees to meet her, and decides that she does want to come home with him. The new kitten, Shelley, doesn't do the endearing things Charlie did. But she does some pretty adorable things that Charlie didn't. Victor begins to understand that although Shelley can't be Charlie, she can be wonderful in her own way. Each cat can be the best cat in the world. The watercolor illustrations are gentle and evocative. Empathic and hopeful, this story shows children a way to go on after a painful loss.

Ages 5-10
Cultural context: European American

Monday, June 20, 2011

What Are You Hungry For? Feed Your Tummy and Your Heart by Emme and Phillip Aronson

Illustrated by Erik Brooks. 32 p., HarperCollins, 2007. Sometimes, adults have learned to eat to try to fulfill needs that have nothing to do with food. Then it's necessary to learn to attend to one's actual needs in order to fulfill them successfully. This story helps children learn that from the beginning. A child straightforwardly acknowledges that sometimes she feels a need for ice cream, but at other times, what she needs is to hug her dog. More examples show different experiences that can be just right to meet the child's needs of the moment, from corn on the cob to a goodnight hug and kiss from Mommy and Daddy. The playful illustrations celebrate positive self-care. Children can use this story to feel comfortably attuned to their own needs. Ages 4-8

Monday, June 13, 2011

Mama's Day by Linda Ashman

Illustrated by Jan Ormerod. 32 p., Simon & Schuster, 2006.

Mamas everywhere love their babies all day long. In this sweet, rhyming story, Mamas begin their day by lifting their babies from their cribs, and care lovingly for the babies all day long. They play at the beach and in the garden, walk on city streets, and visit markets. As the end of the day nears, mamas bathe their babies, read them stories, rock them, and sing to them. The story ends with the reader's love for the child hearing the story. The pencil and wash illustrations give curious little ones much to look at and talk about, with a gentle level of stimulation that's appropriate for the youngest book lovers. Children will feel a sense of peace and security reading this book.

Ages 0-2
Cultural context: multicultural

Monday, June 6, 2011

Big Little Monkey by Carole Lexa Schaefer

Illustrated by Pierre Pratt. 32 p., Candlewick, 2008.

Getting big can can happen a little at a time. When Little Monkey is awake and ready to play when his mama and other family members still want to sleep, he decides that he's a "big little monkey" (a wonderful description of being both big and little), big enough to find other friends to play with. He visits several animals in the jungle, none of whom is very welcoming. Each time, Little Monkey decides that his new companion isn't quite right for him. As he continues to swing through the jungle, he returns home, to a family that's now awake. He explains that although he's big enough to play with others, he can also stay home and play with his family - because even though he's big, sometimes he's little too. With vividly-colored acrylic illustrations, this story shows empathy and acceptance of children's needs to be both big and little as they grow up.

Ages 2-5
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