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, September 26, 2011

Tooth Fairy's First Night by Anne Bowen

Illustrated by Jon Berkeley. 28 p., Carolrhoda, 2005.

Here’s a story about losing a tooth from a tooth fairy’s point of view. Sally is seven years old, and is becoming a tooth fairy just like her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. To be a real tooth fairy, she has to get her first tooth. Having been advised to be patient, to look on the bright side of things, to get that tooth, and to be sure not to wake a child, she flies off into the night. Under the child’s pillow, instead of a tooth, she finds a note telling her that she’ll have to find the tooth using clues the child has left for her. As she finds each clue, she uses her foremothers’ advice, and she finally finds the tooth. And she leaves the child with her own treasure hunt. Accompanied by lovely, night-hued watercolor illustrations, this humorous, encouraging story shows children a new side of losing a tooth.

Ages 5-8

Monday, September 19, 2011

My Grandpa Had a Stroke by Dori Hillestad Butler

llustrated by Nicole Wong.32 p., Magination, 2007.

When someone close has a stroke, this can require a significant adjustment for children. Ryan loves to fish with Grandpa every Saturday, until one Saturday Grandpa can’t come because he is hospitalized with a stroke. His father explains in a gentle, age-appropriate way what a stroke is, and his mother validates the need to cry when you’re sad, regardless of your age. As Ryan visits Grandpa at the hospital, and then later at a rehabilitation facility, he feels worried and distressed when Grandpa doesn’t look quite like himself and says uncharacteristic things. It’s hard for him to see his grandfather like this. Ryan’s mother reassures him that although Grandpa may never be the same, he is still Ryan’s grandpa and still loves him. Eventually, Grandpa comes to live with Ryan. He seems unhappy at first, but Ryan thinks of the perfect way to cheer Grandpa – and himself – up: with Mom’s help, he takes Grandpa fishing. Both Ryan and Grandpa find a new way to do what they’ve always loved doing together. An afterword for parents gives helpful suggestions about ways to talk with kids about a stroke, respond to kids’ feelings about it, and help kids cope. The softly colored illustrations suggest a world of kindness and caring. With Ryan, children will feel they’re not alone, and will find ways to cope with a loved one’s stroke.

Ages 5-8

Monday, September 12, 2011

Toot and Puddle by Holly Hobbie

32 p., Little, Brown, 1997.

Toot and Puddle (two pigs) are best friends. Puddle likes to stay home, and Toot likes to travel. When Toot takes his longest trip ever, he has adventures around the world, while Puddle has adventures at home. Toot's story is told in his postcards to Puddle. They are happily reunited at the end of the story. There is a nice sense of equality of the two friends' experiences. Children will understand that friendship gives both individuals room to be themselves (even if it means being apart) as well as joyful togetherness.

Ages 3-7

Monday, September 5, 2011

Harriet's Recital by Nancy Carlson

32 p., Carolrhoda, 2006.

Worries about performing are common among children. They will identify with Harriet, a little dog who loves her ballet class, but is terrified by the thought of a recital. As her class is dancing onto the stage, Harriet is crying, saying she can’t do it, and rejecting her teacher’s suggestion to take a deep breath. But she has to go on stage anyway, and once there, she takes two deep breaths, begins her steps, and finds herself dancing. When she is absorbed in her dance, she seems to forget all about her fear. The recital ends with compliments from her parents. The author’s vibrant, charming, illustrations clearly convey Harriet’s changing emotions. Harriet shows children that even when they’re scared, they can perform well.

Ages 3-7

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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