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, December 26, 2011

Ballerino Nate by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Illustrated by R. W. Alley.32 p., Dial, 2006.

Gender prejudice can limit children's experience of their choices. When Nate's kindergarten class attends a performance by a ballet school, he falls in ove with ballet. Nate's brother, Ben, repeatedly tells him that he can't study ballet, because he's a boy, and that ballerinas have to wear a dress and pink shoes. Nate's parents calmly dispel these myths, and Nate asserts his right to dance. But Nate wants passionately to learn ballet, and until he can begin classes, he dances at home, in his yard, and on his driveway, and reads books about ballet. When he does begin classes, he's a bit alarmed to find that he's the only boy there. but he loves his teacher and he loves the class. In response to Nate's continuing discouragement about whether he can really be a ballerina, his mother takes him to a professional ballet, where he is not only stunned by the beauty of the performance, but also sees that half of the dancers are men. Afterward, his mother takes him backstage, where he meets one of the male dancer, who explains that the word ballerina is reserved for women who are the top dancers in a company - and that the equivalent term for men is ballerino. Now he knows he can truly be a ballet dancer. Playfully illustrated, this story shows children that it's possible to follow your heart even in spite of gender stereotypes.

Ages 3-8

Monday, December 19, 2011

Uncle Bobby's Wedding by Sarah S. Brannen

32 p., Putnam, 2008.

When your favorite uncle gets married, you might worry that you'll lose the special relationship you have with him. Such is the case for little guinea pig Chloe, when her favorite uncle, Bobby, announces his engagement. Bobby welcomes Chloe's concerns and reassures her that she'll always be special to him. When Chloe goes to the ballet and sailing with Bobby and his fiancé, Jamie, she discovers that she can have great fun with both of them, and finds herself wishing that they were both her uncles. Bobby explains that when he and Jamie are married, that's exactly how it will be. Chloe is Bobby and Jamie's flower girl, and she chooses the wedding cake. She's able to participate joyfully in the wedding. Illustrated with colorful, tenderly expressive watercolors, this story is full of acceptance and reassurance.

Ages 4-8

Monday, December 12, 2011

I Remember Miss Perry by Pat Brisson

Illustrated by Stéphane Jorisch.32 p., Dial, 2006.

The sudden death of a caring teacher is a painful loss. As this caring, warm-hearted story begins, Stevie has just moved and started attending a new school. He feels lonely and worried until his teacher, Miss Perry, empathizes with him and invites him to join her for lunch, using the charming phrase that this is her "fondest wish." It turns out that Miss Perry has fondest wishes about many things, including classroom activities and appropriate behavior. Then, one day, Miss Perry isn't at school. The principal teaches the children in the morning, and after lunch, all of their parents are there. Gently, the prinicipal explains that Miss Perry died in a head-on collision on her way to school that day. Children cling to their parents, cry, and ask questions, which the principal answers kindly. The principal and school counselor spend the next day with the class. Normalizing the children's tears, the counselor asks them to tell her about Miss Perry. With the principal's encouragement, they recall together the good times they'd had with her - and her fondest wishes. The counselor invites the children to consider what Miss Perry's fondest wish would be for that day. Although they're sad, the children are able to suggest tributes to Miss Perry: not being too sad, remembering the fun they'd had with her, getting along well with one another, learning a lot in school, and finally, being happy the way Miss Perry had been. The gentle ink, watercolor, and gouache illustrations clearly convey the characters' emotions. Children who have had a loss like Stevie's will feel supported and will better understand the process of grieving.

Ages 5-8

Monday, December 5, 2011

Baby Can by Eve Bunting

Illustrated by Maxie Chambliss.32 p., Boyds Mills, 2007.

When there's a new baby in the family, sometimes the older child feels as if the baby gets all the attention. In this story, adults get excited when baby James does things like smile, roll over, and even burp. Big brother Brendan responds by showing how well he can do each of these things. When James finally learns to walk everyone wants him to walk to them, but James walks to Brendan for a hug. Brendan is happy, and Mom describes this as evidence of James's love for him. Charmingly illustrated in watercolors with a primarily pastel color palette, this story supports the unique importance of the older sibling.

Ages 2-4

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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