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, August 27, 2012

Sachiko Means Happiness by Kimiko Sakai

Illustrated by Tomie Arai. 32 p., Children's Book Press, 1990. When someone is ill, sometimes our empathy is what's needed most. Sachiko describes how her once-loving grandmother has changed and no longer seems to notice her. She feels angry and exhausted in her attempts to talk with Grandmother. She describes feeling overwhelmed in the face of Grandmother's tears, and then understanding empathically how frightened and alone Grandmother must feel. As she finds a way to enter into Grandmother's experience, she feels a sense of peace in the world. A postscript explains that the author had an experience similar to Sachiko's as a child. Children will understand how their empathy can be helpful even when it seems hopeless. Ages 6-9

Monday, August 20, 2012

Roasted Peanuts by Tim Egan

32 p., Houghton, 2006. Sometimes you have to change your plans to become the best you can be, and that might mean changing your ideas about how to be friends. Sam (a horse) and Jackson (a cat) are best friends who love baseball. Sam is a talented player, and although Jackson can throw, he can't pitch, and he has no other baseball skills at all. Not surprisingly, when they're old enough to play for a team, Sam is selected and Jackson isn't. They're both sad, Jackson because he didn't make the team, and Sam because playing isn't fun without his best friend. In fact, Sam is so sad that his playing suffers. He encourages Jackson to become a peanut vendor, saying he'd be good at it because he throws well, but at first, Jackson is too discouraged to try. When Jackson finally does become a peanut vendor, his presence at the games cheers Sam, who begins to play well again, and Jackson discovers that people truly appreciate and enjoy his peanut-tossing skills. Each one becomes famous for what he does best. In one exciting game, Jackson even helps Sam's team win, if inadvertently. In the end, Jackson's career is longer-lasting than Sam's. With its expressive illustrations, this story shows children that when each of us does what we do best, even if that means being different from our friends, we can stay connected to both ourselves and our good friends. Ages 5-8

Monday, August 13, 2012

Losing Uncle Tim by MaryKate Jordan

Illustrated by Judith Friedman. 32 p., Whitman, 1989. Daniel recalls the fun he'd had with his Uncle Tim. When Uncle Tim begins to get very tired, Daniel's mom explains that he has AIDS. Daniel is sad, angry, confused, and afraid he will catch AIDS from his uncle; his father reassures him that this won't happen. Daniel talks to Uncle Tim when Tim is in a coma, and Tim dies soon afterward. Daniel attends the funeral, which is conducted by a minister. Daniel begins to resolve his grief in part by seeing himself as being like Uncle Tim. This story encourages acceptance of all the feelings children may have when someone dies; gives information about AIDS, and helps children understand some ways to keep someone they love with them after the person dies. Ages 4-8

Monday, August 6, 2012

Gigi and Lulu's Gigantic Fight by Pamela Duncan Edwards

Illustrated by Henry Cole. 40 p., HarperCollins/Tegen, 2004. Sometimes it takes an argument to learn that best friends don't have to be the same in every way. Gigi (a pig) and Lulu (a mouse) are best friends, and always wear the same thing. The adults around them comment on how much they're the same, "two peas in a pod." But then, one day, Lulu accuses Gigi of knocking over her block building. Gigi accuses Lulu of putting the blocks in her way. They each declare that they'll never speak to each other again. Although the adults try to get them to make up, they refuse. Soon it's twin day at school, and neither child wants to choose someone with whom they'll dress alike and bring the same lunch. Their teacher suggests that they just wear and bring what they like best. When they get to school, each discovers that she's had misconceptions about what the other's favorites are, and that they really don't share as many tastes as they'd thought. But they do have their favorite green sneakers in common, along with a shared routine of wearing them on Wednesdays. They decide that even though they really aren't "two little peas in a pod," they can each be themselves, and can be friends again. Children will learn that it's not only possible, but maybe necessary, to be unique individuals while being friends. Ages 4-7

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