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, January 30, 2012

Being Me by Julie Broski

Illustrated by Vincent Vigla. 32 p., Children's Press, 2006.

Disability is only one part of who we are. In this story, a little girl tells about the things she likes to do (for example, play dress-up, paint, play with friends) and her capabilities (for example, she can add and subtract, do cartwheels, and help with chores). Each of these is part of who she is - as is being deaf and signing. She acknowledges both differences and similarities with the reader, saying that she loves the reader for her/his unique self, and feels confident that the sentiment is reciprocated. With cheerful, rather edgy illustrations, this story communicates acceptance of a range of human experience.

Ages 3-7

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Forever Dog by Bill Cochran

Illustrated by Dan Andreasen.32 p., HarperCollins, 2007.

Mike loves his dog, Corky, dearly. Not only do they do everything together, but also, Mike can tell Corky anything. They plan to be best friends forever. But one day, Corky is at the vet when Mike comes home from school, and his mom explains that Corky is very sick. By the next morning, Corky has died. Mike and his parents bury Corky, and Mike is unbearably sad. But he's also angry with Corky for breaking his promise to be best friends forever. After a week of anger, he tells his mom about this. She reminds him of all the special times that he and Corky had together. When Mike says he'll never forget these times, Mom explains that this means that Corky had, in fact, kept his promise - he would always be with Mike in his heart and in his thoughts. She explains Mike's pain as Corky "trying to get comfortable in his new home ... in your heart.'" When Mike is able to let Corky into his heart again, he feels warm inside. With softly colored, expressive illustrations, this story empathically acknowledges children's grief shows them a way through it.

Ages 4-8

Monday, January 16, 2012

Oh, Baby! by Sara Bonnett Stein

Illustrated by Holly Anne Shelowitz. 32 p., Walker and Co., 1993.

Most of this book is about what babies can do. They make faces, imitate older people, grab older people's fingers, eat, poop, and get bathed. They cry when they need something. Babies' kissable cheeks, special smell, and smiles are irresistible. As they get older, babies pick up things, play with them, and put them in their mouths. Eventually, they learn to crawl and walk. This book would be a good choice for a child who hasn't had a lot of experience with babies, since knowing what to expect can help ease the transition to having a baby in the house. It doesn't directly address feelings about having a new brother or sister.

Ages 2-6

Monday, January 9, 2012

Henry's Amazing Imagination by Nancy Carlson

32 p., Viking, 2008.

Sometimes kids tell lies when they want to express what they’ve imagined. They may worry that the truth is boring. Little mouse Henry uses his imagination at show-and-tell time, telling his classmates strange and exciting tales. When they become skeptical, Henry realizes that he “didn’t mean to fib … it’s just that his imagination got mixed up with the truth.” Recognizing Henry’s imagination, his teacher suggests that he use it to write stories. Then, Henry writes stories and at show and tell, he tells about the boring events of his everyday life. That doesn’t work for him or his classmates. He comes up with the perfect solution: he reads his stories to his class during show and tell. The author’s illustrations are full of color, charm, and expressiveness. With Henry, children will learn to channel their imaginations in positive ways.

Ages 4-7

Monday, January 2, 2012

Jam Day by Barbara M. Joosse

Illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully. 28 p., Harper & Row, 1987.

Sometimes our assumptions about the kind of family we have can limit our perceptions. Ben lives in a quiet two-person household with his Mama, and wishes for a big, noisy family. He and Mama, along with Ben's aunt, uncle, and two cousins, visit Grandmam and Grandpap for an annual family tradition: Jam Day. On Jam Day, everyone in the family picks strawberries and helps make jam. In the midst of a delicious abundance of homemade jam and biscuits, Ben realizes that he is really part of exactly the kind of family he'd wished for. This story will help children to discover the otherwise invisible strengths of different kinds of families.

Ages 4-8

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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