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, August 29, 2011

Who's There? by Carole Lexa Schaefer

Illustrated by Pierr Morgan.32 p., Viking, 2011.

When you hear a noise at night, it can be scary! The little bunny in this story hears all kinds of noises, and can't help imagining that they're being made by all kinds of terrible monsters. And "if that is true, what'll we do?" The bunny, BunBun (who can be interpreted as either male or female), gets comfort from a teddy bear: when the teddy bear sits quietly, in spite of the scary noises,BunBun can too. But the noises continue, and BunBun's imagination along with them. BunBun's last guess about the monster's identity - a "Two-Headed Whiney Snoop" - turns out to be close to accurate: it's BunBun's little brother, FonFon. FonFon's pull toy had been making the scary noises - and FonFon had come to see what was the matter because he'd heard thumps and bumps, which were the sounds of BunBun jumping into bed. FonFon is scared, and gets into bed with BunBun. The scary noises have an irresistible rhythm, the monster names and illustrations are wonderfully creative (just as children's imaginations are), and repetition is used with great charm and effectiveness. And there's a delicious linguistic surprise at the end, too. The richly colored illustrations on a night-black background show BunBun's emotions and perspective so clearly that we're right there in BunBun's experience. Bringing humor and delight to a frightening situation, without in the least discounting the child's fear, this story will help children understand how fear transforms ordinary situations into dangerous-seeming ones. If your child is already very anxious at bedtime, it might be best to read this story earlier in the day, at least at first.

Ages 3-7


  1. Jacqueline - thanks are way overdue for this wonderful review of Carole's and my bedtime book, Who's There? We are both very appreciative of this blog of picture books. It's a marvelous gift to us all. Thank you!

  2. You're most welcome, Pierr! As you can tell, I think your book is wonderful.


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