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, July 30, 2012

Old Pig by Margaret Wild

Illustrated by Ron Brooks. 33 p., Dial, 1996. Old Pig and Granddaughter do the chores together every day, until one day Old Pig doesn't get up for breakfast. Knowing that she is going to die soon, she puts her affairs in order and takes one last long, slow walk around the town with Granddaughter, enjoying the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes. She allows Granddaughter to care for her tenderly one last time. This story offers a sweet image of a loving goodbye. Ages 3-7

Monday, July 23, 2012

Hot Day on Abbott Avenue by Karen English

Illustrated by Javaka Steptoe. 32 p., Clarion, 2004. It can be hard to stay best friends when you're angry, and, as a neighbor points out, "Hot days sure can make tempers short.". On the hot, hot day in this story, Renée is furious at Kishi because Kishi bought the last blue ice pop, Renée's favorite, from the ice cream man. Kishi retorts that blue ice pops are her favorite, too. Each one plays alone a little, but mostly they do nothing. Adults try to get them both to help with things, but they see right through this, and refuse. But neither girl can resist the chants that go with double-Dutch jump rope, and both join in with a group of their friends. Gradually, the fun of jumping rope replaces their anger. And when the ice cream man comes again, all the girls except Renée get blue ice pops - and there are no more left. This time, Kishi shares with Renée, and soon the two feel good about being best friends again. This story is illustrated with stunning cut paper and found-object collages that are full of depth, texture, and energy. With Kishi and Renée, children will understand that even when you're angry, it's possible to soothe yourself, repair relationships, and be friends again. Ages 5-8

Monday, July 16, 2012

I'll Protect You From the Jungle Beasts by Martha Alexander

32 p., Dial, 1973. A toddler in one-piece pajamas assures his teddy bear that he'll protect Teddy from lions, tigers, and hyenas. As the child begins to feel that he's lost in the woods, the bear grows bigger and comforts the frightened child (who attributes his shaking and perspiration to fever), finally carrying him home to bed. The next morning, Teddy is back to his normal size. This story shows children at least two ways to cope with fear: to talk to themselves in a comforting way (as the boy talks to the teddy bear) and to use a comforting object (in this case, the bear). Ages 3-5

Monday, July 9, 2012

Kindergarten Rocks! by Katie Davis

32 p., Harcourt, 2005.

Starting kindergarten can be scary, even if you know all about it because your older sister was once in kindergarten. Such is the case for Dex, who verbalizes that kindergarten is going to be "a piece of cake," but his facial expressions tell us otherwise. And also, his toy dog, Rufus, is just a little scared. Dex's sister, Jes, gives him lots of reassurance, but he still has lots of worries, and she has to drag him to his classroom. There, he acknowledges that there are "some kind of good surprises abotu kindergarten" - for example, his friend from preschool is in his class. The children hear stories, make art, cook, write, look at books, build with blocks, play dress-up, go to the library, and eat lunch at the cafeteria. Dex learns that there are custodians to help you when you accidentally spill your milk. But at the end of the day, Dex can't find Rufus. He's panicked. His teacher enlists Jes to help him look, and they retrace his steps, but they can't find him. Finally, Dex finds Rufus in the classroom. With happy relief, he decides not to bring Rufus to school any more. As the story ends, Dex looks forward to learning in kindergarten - he's already learned that "kindergarten rocks!" The colorful, almost childlike illustrations clearly express Dex's emotions. Children will learn that kindergarten rocks - and that even though you might lose your equanimity when you face a big change like starting kindergarten, you'll find it quickly.

Ages 4-8

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Grandpa Loves by Rebecca Kai Dotlich

Illustrated by Kathryn Brown. 26 p., HarperCollins, 2005. Children and grandparents can have a unique bond. In this story, a little pig's grandpa loves to do lots of fun things through all the seasons, always with the little one. Illustrated with gentle watercolors, this story clearly conveys the feeling that Grandpa is a loving, special friend and companion to the little one, and the sense that the little pig feels lovable as a result. Children who have a special grandpa will join with the little pig in the feelings of security and happiness in this relationship. Ages 4-6

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Healing Stories in Be Inkandescent ezine

I'm delighted to announce that questions and answers about Healing Stories are featured in today's parenting column of Be Inkandescent, an ezine for entrepreneurs. The column, which you can access here, includes discussion of the benefits of stories, tips for using stories with children who are experiencing change or stress, and other questions that parents might have. I hope you enjoy reading it!

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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