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, April 30, 2012

What Did You Do Today? The First Day of School by Toby Forward

Illustrated by Carol Thompson.32 p., Clarion, 2004.

Even when children and parents are apart during the day, they're connected not only by thinking about each other, but by the similar elements in their days. In this story, it's a little boy's first day of preschool. The day starts with packing lunches - one for him, one for his mother. At school, the little boy hugs his mother and watches her as she disappears, and soon he's so busy that he forgets about missing her. On facing pages, we see the child's and the mother's similar experiences: greeting classmates (or colleagues), eating snacks and lunch, writing, even feeling sleepy. We see the mother thinking about the little boy on most of the pages, and the little boy thinking about his mother at lunchtime and when it's time to get ready to go home. They reunite joyfully, ready to hear about each other's day. With its warm, happy watercolor illustrations, this story offers reassurance and connection.

Ages 2-5

Monday, April 23, 2012

Oh No, Gotta Go! by Susan Middleton Elya

Illustrated by G. Brian Karas.32 p., Putnam, 2003.

Part of potty learning is learning to tell your caregivers when you need to use the bathroom. In this energetically rhyming story, a little girl is riding in the car with her parents when she needs to go. Her father looks for a bathroom, but it's Sunday, and most businesses are closed. He reassures her as she expresses more and more urgency. Finally, Papa sees a construction worker, who directs him to a restaurant. There's a long line for the rest room, but the girl's mother politely asks the other women to let the little girl go ahead of them because it's so urgent. They agree sympathetically, and the girl finds relief at last. The family eats a meal at the restaurant, and no sooner are they off again, than the little girl needs a bathroom. The charming illustrations clearly express the girl's urgency. Children will identify with the girl's experiences, and will learn that sometimes you have to wait when you need to go to the bathroom. English-speaking children will learn some Spanish words, too, since the text includes many Spanish words, with a glossary.

Ages 2-4

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Princess Knight by Cornelia Funke

Translated by Anthea Bell. Illustrated by Kerstin Meyer. 32 p., Scholastic/Chicken House, 2001.

Restrictive cultural ideas can't keep a princess down in this story. A widowed king decides to teach his daughter, Violetta, the same things he is teaching her three older brothers - riding, fighting, and arrogance. Violetta is small, and her brothers tease her as she struggles to keep up with them. But she's very determined, and she goes out at night and quietly practices her skills. As a result, when she jousts with her brothers, she's so quick that they can't hit her with their swords. When Violetta is turning 16, the king announces a jousting tournament, with her hand in marriage going to the winner. Deeply offended, Violetta enters the tournament herself as Sir No-Name, and to her father's amazement, she wins. She decides to choose her own prize: "no one will ever win Princess Violetta's hand in marriage without first defeating Sir No-Name." No one ever challenges her again.The illustrations are very expressive of both Violetta's smallness and her toughness. The strength of Violetta's self-determination will be an inspiration to girls.

Ages 5-8

Monday, April 9, 2012

Ruby in Her Own Time by Jonathan Emmett

Illustrated by Rebecca Harry.32 p., Scholastic, 2004.

Each child develops and her or his own rate. In this story, Mother Duck and Father Duck have five eggs. Four hatch into ducklings; the fifth takes a little longer. Thus begins the story's refrain: Father Duck asks, "Will it/she EVER..." and Mother Duck replies, "It/she will. In its/her own time." The fifth duckling, Ruby, takes longer than her siblings to eat and to swim. But when her siblings fly, Ruby flies too - farther and longer than her siblings. This time, Mother Duck wonders whether she will ever come back, and Father Duck reassures her that Ruby will, "in her own time." And she does, having become a mother duck herself. With its gentle, but richly colored, illustrations, this story offers reassurance that all paths of development can lead to happy outcomes.

Ages 3-6

Monday, April 2, 2012

I Like Myself by Karen Beaumont

Illustrated by David Catrow. 32 p., Harcourt, 2004.

Liking ourselves means liking all that we are. In this charmingly rhymed story, full of delightful silliness, a little girl expresses liking for herself - her body, her moods, her thoughts, and even her potential to look very very strnge. She knows that no matter what she looks like, she's the same inside, and "nothing in this world, you know,/ can change what's deep inside." She doesn't mind if other people think she's strange, in part because she realizes that what someone else sees of her is at most, only part of who she really is. With colorful illustrations whose silliness matches the text and that are sometimes reminiscent of Dr. Seuss, this story vigorously supports kids' self-acceptance.

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.

Blog Archive