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, September 24, 2012

No Matter What by Debi Gliori

28 p., Harcourt, 1999. Children sometimes feel unloved when they're grumpy, and need reassurance. Such is the case with Small, a little fox. Large notices Small's irritability and asks what's wrong, and Small explains, "I'm grim and grumpy ... and I don't think you love me at all." Large explains that s/he always loves Small, and Small asks some charmingly rhymed questions to confirm this; for example, "But if I turned into a squishy bug,/would you still love me and give me a hug?" Large explains that love can be mended if that's needed, and is always with us, whether we're close together or far apart. The change in Small's mood, from cranky to calm, is clear in the watercolor and ink illustrations. With Small, children will feel soothed and secure. Ages 2-5

Monday, September 17, 2012

That's What Friends are For by Valeri Gorbachev

32 p., Philomel, 2005. Being a good friend means caring about your friend, being willing to help, and maybe most of all, being empathic. In this sweet, funny story, Goat wakes up one morning, excited to be having dinner at his friend Pig's house that night. But he sees that Pig is in tears. He imagines all sorts of terrible things that might have happened, and thinks about how he'll help Pig in each of the situations he's imagined. For example, if Pig has fallen and broken his leg, he'll play chess with him every day to help him forget how much pain he's in. Finally, Goat can't stand worrying any longer, and he goes to Pig's house, equipped to help with all of the disasters on his mind. Pig is still in tears - and asks Goat to help him chop onions! Goat happily agrees, and is soon crying right along with Pig. With its lively ink and watercolor illustrations, this story not only conveys a wonderfully warm perspective on friendship, but also delivers an important message about worrying. Ages 3-6

Monday, September 10, 2012

Tadpoles by Betsy James

32 p., Dutton, 1999. Molly resents her baby brother, Davey, because Ma carries him to and she has to walk. One day, Molly discovers frog eggs at the pond. With Ma's encouragement, she brings them home to watch them grow, promising to return them to the pond when they become frogs. Ma explains that Molly and Davey began as dots, much like the ones inside the frogs' eggs' jelly. Molly watches the eggs grow into tadpoles, and then into frogs. She helps Davey watch the eggs develop, and he grows, too. Molly is sad when it's time to let the frogs go. At the same moment, Davey learns to walk - and walks to Molly. Now that Davey can walk, Ma lets the children take turns being carried. An afterword tells how to raise frog eggs. Children will see that some of the ways that babies monopolize their parents are temporary, and that helping a baby grow can lead to a special relationship with the baby. Ages 4-8

Monday, September 3, 2012

Otto Learns About his Medicine: A Story About Medication for Children (3rd edition) by Matthew Galvin, M.D.

Illustrated by Sandra Ferraro.32 p., Magination, 2007. When children have unusual difficulty paying attention in class, doing homework, thinking before they act, and sitting still, and those difficulties get in the way of their learning, they may have Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Such is the case for Otto, a young car. His teacher meets with his parents and refers them to a "special mechanic" (psychologist). Dr. Wheeler evaluates Otto and validates that his "motor does go too fast." She works with him to improve his attention and his relationships with other little cars, and works with his parents to help him at home.She also refers him to an additional "mechanic" (psychiatrist or behavioral pediatrician), Dr. Beemer, who prescribes medication for him. Dr. Beemer explains that the medicine won't make him sit still and follow the rules, but it will let him make the choices to do these things. He discusses side effects and their management. As the story ends, Otto is happy that he has caring parents and "mechanics" to help him. Although the car metaphor feels a little forced to me, it may appeal to many young children. Likewise, although the text strikes me as a bit long for children who have difficulty slowing down, it explains much about treatment in ways that children can understand. Children who have ADHD will realize that others have similar difficulties and that there are ways to cope. Ages 4-9

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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