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, November 28, 2011

Mom and Dad Don't Live Together Any More by Kathy Stinson

Illustrated by Nancy Lou Reynolds.29 p., Annick Press, 1984.

Feelings about divorce can be complicated. In this story, a girl lives with her brother and Mommy in the city, and spends weekends with Daddy in the country. Although she knows it won't happen, she can't help wishing that her parents would get back together again. She likes her life with each parent, and values what's special about her relationship with each one, although there's a sense of disruption in going back and forth, expressed in her wondering whether Santa Claus will know where to find her on Christmas. She struggles to understand why Mommy and Daddy can't make each other happy. But she finds comfort in knowing that she loves both parents and they both love her, "just not together." This sensitive portrayal of a child's complex feelings about divorce, and her work toward resolving what feel like inconsistencies, will resonate with children in similar situations.

Ages 4-8

Monday, November 21, 2011

Pearl Barley and Charlie Parsley by Aaron Blabey

32 p., Front Street, 2008.

Being friends is about more than being alike. Pearl Barley and Charlie Parsley are great friends, and they’re very different from each other. For example, Pearl likes to run amok, whereas Charlie likes to sit and think. But they’re friends because they care for each other. For example, when Pearl forgets her mittens, Charlie warms her hands in his. They use their strengths to support each other; for example, when Charlie is scared, Pearl helps him feel brave. The acrylic and mixed media illustrations are edgy and warm at the same time. This sweet story will deepen children’s understanding of the meaning of friendship.

Ages 4-8

Monday, November 14, 2011

Even If I Spill My Milk? by Anna Grossnickle Hines

32 p., Clarion, 1994.

Mama and Papa are getting ready to go out for the evening, and Jamie, who is about four years old and who is to stay with a babysitter, doesn't want them to go. He asks for, and receives, assurances of Mama's love, even if she is angry at him, or he is angry at her, or runs away, or is unaffectionate. He concludes that he doesn't want Mama to go out, but he still loves her - just in time for Mama to tuck him into bed before leaving. This story sensitively addresses feelings children might have about staying with a babysitter, and reassures them that their parents can contain and accept their feelings.

Ages 3-6

Monday, November 7, 2011

My Pal, Victor / Mi amigo, Victor by Diane Gonzales Bertrand

Translated by Eida de la Vega. Illustrated by Robert L. Sweetland.32 p., Raven Tree, 2004.

Friendship can include finding similarities when differences are present, and appreciating each other’s uniqueness. In this bilingual (English and Spanish) book, Dominic describes what he values about his friend Victor – his imagination, his jokes, his encouragement, and his scary stories. He tells how they enjoy swimming, riding amusement park rides, and having sleepovers together. What Dominic likes best about Victor is that Victor accepts him just as he is. It isn’t until the last page that we see that Victor uses a wheelchair. The colorful illustrations effectively convey the fun the boys have together. Whether or not they use a wheelchair, children will see that disability is only one attribute among many, and less important than the qualities that make a good friend.

Ages 4-8

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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