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, May 28, 2012

Little Mamá Forgets by Robin Cruise

Illustrated by Stacey Dressen-McQueen.40 p., Farrar/Kroupa, 2006. When someone has dementia and forgets many things, we can still appreciate the things she remembers. Although Lucy's grandmother sometimes forgets to wake up in the morning, Lucy reminds her by tickling her awake, and Little Mamá remembers to tickle her back. Although Little Mamá forgets how to tie her shoes, Lucy reminds her - and Little Mamá remembers how to button her dancing shoes and remembers dancing with Papi, she and Lucy enjoy dancing together. Little Mamá may forget to wait for a green light to cross the street, but she remembers how to skip, and the whole family enjoys skipping together. In spite of her forgetting, Little Mamá recreates the warmth and family closeness that she remembers from Mexico. With its lively illustrations, this story shows children that even when someone forgets important things, closeness and joy are still possible. Ages 4-8

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Biggest, Meanest, Ugliest Dog in The Whole Wide World by Rebecca C. Jones

Illustrated by Wendy Watson. 32 p., Macmillan, 1982.

Jonathan lives next door to Pirate, a very scary dog. Although he does all he can to avoid Pirate, one day he is surprised and terrified to find himself alone with him. He throws a ball at Pirate, who responds by playing with him. Once Jonathan gets to know Pirate, Pirate looks and sounds a lot less scary. This story not only shows children that something that seems scary is not so frightening when seen from a different perspective, but also, more metaphorically, shows kids that if they make friends with their fears, they'll be less scared.

Ages 3-7

Monday, May 14, 2012

Where's Jamela? by Niki Daly

36 p., Farrar, 2004.

Sometimes moving to a new house means leaving a home that you love. Jamela doesn't want to move to the new house that Mama has found, even though her Gogo (grandmother) is going to live there with them. She loves the old house, the street sounds, the smells of the neighborhood, and the stars she can see from her bedroom window. But Jamela works hard packing her things, and she gets so tired that she goes to sleep - in her packing box. When Mama's friends pack the family's things into their pickup truck, no one can find Jamela. They look everywhere, and finally call the police, before they discover Jamela, who has woken up, in her box. Everyone is happy to see her, and they celebrate with music and dancing, which Jamela correctly understands as "a going-away song." She begins to understand that even Mama is sad to leave their old home. But the new home is as nice as Mama had said it would be, and Jamela realizes that she hasn't lost the sky that she used to see from her old bedroom window. With its lively illustrations, this story will be a comfort to children who are sad to leave an old home for a new one.

Ages 5-8

Monday, May 7, 2012

Dog Blue by Polly Dunbar

40 p., Candlewick, 2004.

Sometimes our ideas about what's perfect make it difficult to see what really is perfect. In this story, Bertie loves the color blue, and so he wants a blue dog more than anything. When he yaps while pretending to be the blue dog he wishes for, he's surprised when someone yaps back - a little white dog with black spots, "all alone and looking for an owner." Bertie immediately thinks the dog is wonderful, and adopts it. But the dog isn't blue. He finally solves this problem by giving the dog something blue: the name Blue. They become best friends, and love each other very much. With its simple, expressive illustrations, this story shows children the possibilities of using their imagination to discover what they want, and recognizing when they've discovered this in reality, even if it doesn't appear so at first.

Ages 3-5

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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