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, June 25, 2012

Bravery Soup by Maryann Cocca-Leffler

32 p., Whitman, 2002. When you're determined, you can discover your courage. Carlin, a little raccoon, is afraid of everything. His friend tells him he need some bravery, which he can get from Big Bear, "the bravest animal in all the land." Big Bear is making Bravery Soup, but he needs Carlin to get an important ingredient for him. To do this, Carlin has to travel alone through the a forest to a cave on a mountain, where a monster lives, and bring back a box. He's frightened, but Big Bear tells him, "You are braver than you think." His friends outfit him for the journey with things that are meant to help him, but just increase his awareness of the dangers he'll face. They worry about him, and eventually follow him into the forest. What they see convinces them that Carlin has come to danger. But it turns out that he hasn't - and in fact, the forest is a lot less dangerous than they'd led him to believe. He finds the cave, where the monster turns out to be human, and to be afraid of Carlin. Carlin realizes this possibility, and asks for the box, which he receives. He runs down the mountain, finding his friends along the way, and back to Big Bear. It turns out that the box is empty. Big Bear explains that Carlin's journey was worthwhile because he has faced his fears. "It is not what is inside the BOX that makes bravery. it is what is inside of YOU!" Carlin happily claims his bravery. This wonderful story is illustrated with charming, expressive acrylic paintings. With Carlin, children will learn that they have courage, even when it's unacknowledged. Ages 3-8

Monday, June 18, 2012

We Wanted You by Liz Rosenberg

Illustrated by Peter Catalanotto. 27 p., Roaring Brook Press, 2002. In the voice of adoptive mother and father, this book tells a boy how much he has always been wanted, even before he was born. The illustrations show the boy as a high school graduate and then younger and younger in each picture, until the parents finally describe his adoption in early infancy. The parents explain that although they weren't his first parents, they waited for him and cared for him, and the boy and the parents belong to each other. The illustrations fast-forward to the boy's departure for college as a young man, his parents again saying how much they've always wanted him, up to and including this moment. This story offers children the sense of having a whole lifetime together with adoptive parents. Ages 3-7

Monday, June 11, 2012

Shrinking Violet by Cari Best

Illustrated by Giselle Potter. 40 p., Farrar/Melanie Kroupa, 2001. Sometimes when you can't bear to be seen, there are ways to use your strengths to feel good about yourself. Violet is smart, talented, and creative. Because she's highly sensitive, she's not only painfully anxious about being seen, but also a keen observer and a brilliant imitator. But one of her classmates, Irwin, is particularly mean to her, and this embarrasses her, often making her wish that she could disappear. Violet's teacher comes up with a wise plan to give her a part in the school play about the solar system: she assigns her the part of Lady Space, who speaks from offstage. Violet feels capable of performing this role and is relieved that she doesn't feel like shrinking away. At the performance, Irwin (playing Mars), seems to forget what to do, and moves around the stage aimlessly. When it's time for him to speak, he's nowhere to be found. Spontaneously, Violet not only imitates his voice, but also ad-libs hilarious lines for him. Now it's Irwin's turn to be embarrassed. As Lady Space, Violet becomes the star of the show. And when Irwin resumes insulting her afterward, she finds that she doesn't feel embarrassed - instead, she feels self-confident. She knows that she's fine just the way she is. This engaging, intelligent, whimsically-illustrated story shows children that even when they feel chronically vulnerable to embarrassment, they can acknowledge, develop, and use their strengths, and ultimately, feel confident instead of ashamed. Ages 5-8

Monday, June 4, 2012

Hurricane by David Wiesner

32 p., Clarion, 1990. When a tree falls during a hurricane, it becomes the scene of diverse, exciting adventures for two young brothers. George is in his early school years, and David is preschool age. When the tree is cut up and hauled away, they half-hope that another tree will fall during the next storm. The watercolor illustrations use light and shadow effectively to show the moods of the storm, its aftermath, and the imaginary worlds of the tree. This story shows children a way to use imagination to create hope out of a scary situation. Ages 3-8

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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