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, July 25, 2011

The Greedy Triangle by Marilyn Burns

Illustrated by Gordon Silveria.32 p., Scholastic, 1994.

A triangle does lots of important and interesting things, but one day it gets bored, and decides that it wants to be a different shape. It visits a shapeshifter, who turns it into many other shapes. As the triangle gets more and more sides, it grows more distant from its friends, and begins to feel out of balance. When it finally decides to become a triangle again, it is back in balance, happy, and reunited with its friends. Children will get the message that although it might seem interesting to be someone else, it feels best to be who you are. An afterword for adults explains the geometric concepts and suggests ways to teach them to children.

Ages 5-8

Monday, July 18, 2011

Grandad Bill's Song by Jane Yolen

Illustrated by Melissa Bay Mathis.32 p., Philomel, 1994.

Jon asks family members and friends what they did when his Granddad Bill died. Each shares reactions to Bill's death and memories of Bill. Jon is angry when his Grandad dies, and feels guilty about this until he talks it over with his Daddy. It becomes clear that each person, including Jon, can keep Bill with them in important ways after his death. Black-and-white drawings show Jon and his relatives and friends in the present and the photos of Bill that that they look at together; vibrantly colored illustrations on two-page spreads show memories of Bill. This story helps children accept diverse ways to grieve, and to understand that we can keep people who have died with us in our memories of them.

Ages 4-8

Monday, July 11, 2011

Elisabeth by Claire A. Nivola

32 p., Frances Foster Books/Farrar Straus Giroux, 1997.

As a child in Germany, the main character, a European Jew, has a doll named Elisabeth whom she loves very much. She has to leave Elisabeth behind when her family flees from the Nazis, eventually to the United States. There she grows up, and searches for a doll for her own daughter, remembering Elisabeth. Amazingly, she finds Elisabeth in an antique store. At the end of the story, Elisabeth has been handed down to her granddaughter. A brief note explains that this is a true story in the life of the author's mother. This book will help children see hope for healing the losses of war.

Ages 5-8

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

When I Feel Jealous by Cornelia Spelman

Illustrated by Kathy Parkinson. 24 p., Whitman, 2003.

Jealousy can be a difficult feeling for children. In this accepting, empathic, story, a little bear lets children know they're not alone with jealousy by acknowledging that everyone, even pets, feels this way sometimes. She can cope with jealousy by talking about it with someone, and by expressing her own needs, especially for attention (although she might not be able to have it right away, and so might have to find something else to do while she's waiting). She can also learn to be happy for others rather than jealous of them, and can appreciate what she has rather than focusing exclusively on what others have. When this is possible, she doesn't feel so jealous any more. Knowing this helps the little bear to realize that jealousy, while uncomfortable, is temporary. An accessible, compassionate note to parents and teachers helps adults to understand children's jealousy and to offer support in resolving it. Illustrations are both sweet and expressive. Even very young children can use the little bear as a wonderful model of self-acceptance, emotional awareness, and coping.

Ages 2-4
Cultural context: non-human

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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