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, February 27, 2012

Little Raccoon's Big Question by Miriam Schlein

Illustrated by Ian Schoenherr.32 p., Greenwillow, 2004.

A little raccoon asks his mother when she loves him most. He guesses that she might love him most at times when he's adorable, or compliant, or plays well with other raccoon children, or shows his skills. Mother Raccoon explains that she loves him most now, because it's always now. This book is especially nice as a bedtime story, because it not only expresses a soothing message of unconditional love, but also ends with the little raccoon's bedtime.

Ages 3-7

Monday, February 20, 2012

Abuelita's Paradise by Carmen Santiago Nodar

Illustrated by Diane Paterson.32 p., Whitman, 1992.

As this story begins, Marita's father gives her her grandmother's rocking chair, saying that Abuelita wanted her to have it. Marita sits in the chair and remembers sitting in Abuelita's lap in the chair as she told her stories of her childhood on a sugar cane farm in Puerto Rico. Abuelita tells Marita that Puerto Rico is paradise. Toward the end of the book, the author tells us that Abuelita has died. Marita's mother sits with her in the rocking chair and both feel embraced by Abuelita's presence, shown in the illustrations as a shadowy image. Marita daydreams about traveling to Puerto Rico someday, feeling that she truly has her Abuelita with her. Children will understand that when someone close dies, their stories are still a part of you.

Ages 3-8

Monday, February 13, 2012

Henry's Show and Tell by Nancy Carlson

32 p., Viking, 2004.

Shyness can make some parts of life really difficult. Little mouse Henry loves everything about kindergarten except for Show and Tell. He feels too scared and shaky to speak in front of his class. His sympathetic teacher suggests that he bring something that he enjoys talking about and practice his presentation in front of a mirror. Henry takes her advice and brings his pet lizard, Wallace. But just as he's about to talk, Wallace escapes. By the time he catches Wallace, Henry forgets to be shy, and easily tells his class all about lizards. When it's time for Show and Tell again, Henry is silent. He explains that he has nothing to talk about because his pet spider has escaped. As his teacher calls recess, the story ends. With its bright, child-friendly illustrations, this empathic story shows children that they're not alone in their shyness, and that it's possible to overcome it even when - and possible because of - unexpected events.

Ages 4-7

Monday, February 6, 2012

Grandmama's Pride by Becky Birtha

Illustrated by Colin Bootman.32 p., Whitman, 2006.

How can a child make sense of pervasive, inexplicable prejudice? When 6-year-old Sarah Marie and her family visit her Grandmama in the South in 1956, adult relatives protect her from segregation. Instead of telling her she isn’t allowed to drink from a drinking fountain because she is African American, Grandmama simply advises against it, suggesting that it might not be clean, and promises her homemade lemonade instead. Grandmama refuses to ride segregated buses before the organized bus boycotts, but Sarah Marie doesn’t know that; she just knows that Grandmama never rides the bus. During her visit to the South, Sarah Marie’s aunt teaches her to read. Soon she can read the signs that reserve rest rooms for “White Women” and drinking fountains for “White [people] only.” When she asks Grandmama what these mean, Grandmama explains what segregation is, adding, “’you don’t want that city water anyway … It isn’t even cold.’” Now that she can read, Sarah Marie begins protecting her 5-year-old sister in the same ways her mother and grandmother have been protecting her. By the next summer’s visit, laws have changed, and these forms of segregation have ended in Grandmama’s town. When Grandmama explains this to Sarah Marie, her triumph is clear. The watercolor illustrations are especially evocative of summer light and long-ago memories. This story shows children that with the support of a loving family, it’s possible to maintain your own internal sense of who you are, even in situations of blatant, inexplicable prejudice.

Ages 5-10

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