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, October 29, 2012

A Good Day by Kevin Henkes

32 p., Greenwillow, 2007. When something bad happens, it seems as if it's a bad day, but that doesn't always turn out to be the case. In this story, a bird loses a feather, a dog gets her leash tangled, a baby fox can't find his mother, and a squirrel loses her nut. It looks as if things aren't going well. But then good things happen: the squirrel finds a new, bigger nut, the fox finds his mother, the dog frees herself and has fun, and the bird flies higher than ever before. And not only that, but the bird's misfortune turns out to be a gift to another, when a little girl finds his feather. With its very simple words and charming watercolor and ink illustrations, this story encourages children to maintain their hopefulness and resilience even when things seem to be going badly. Ages 2-5

Monday, October 22, 2012

Francis the Earthquake Dog by Judith Ross Enderle and Stephanie Gordon Tessler

Illustrated by Brooke Scudder.32 p., Chronicle, 1996. When there's a natural disaster, it's important for kids to know that someone will always take care of them. In this story, set in San Francisco in 1906, Edward, the son of a widowed chef at the St. Francis Hotel, adopts a lost dog. He keeps the dog in the hotel cellar while he helps his father at work, but the dog escapes and can't be found. Edward worries about the dog. That night, there is a major earthquake. Edward and his Papa run outside, and ultimately to Golden Gate Park, where they camp with others. Papa cooks for the camp, and with others, he and Edward help to repair the damage from the earthquake. Edward misses the dog. When Papa worries about their future, Edward reminds him that they still have each other. While helping to rebuild the city, Edward and Papa haul rubble awy from the St. Francis Hotel, where they discover, and dig out, the dog - who finally becomes part of their family. Afterwords for children explain the nature of earthquakes and give advice for earthquake safety. With its charming, vividly colored illustrations, this story reassures children that they can cope with even a major disaster. Ages 5-8

Monday, October 15, 2012

Elena's Serenade by Campbell Geeslin

Illustrated by Ana Juan.40 p., Atheneum/Schwartz, 2004. Anger at prejudice can provide the energy for creativity and success. Such is the case for Elena, who is furious when her father tells her that she can't be a glassblower like him because she is a girl. Elena disguises herself as a boy in her brother's old clothes and sets out to learn glassblowing. On her way, she discovers with delight that she can make music with her glassblowing pipe. She uses her music to help the animals she meets along the way, and they encourage and support her. When she reaches a glassblowing factory, then men don't think she's capable of anything, but she and they find that when she plays music through her pipe, she creates glass objects related to the song - for example, when she plays a song called "Estrellita," she blows a little glass star - and her glass stars become wildly popular. Eventually Elena returns home, gliding on the back of a large glass bird she has blown, and shows her father what she can do. Her father accepts her as a colleague. The warmly colored acrylic and crayon illustrations express the magic of this story, which encourages children not to accept "girls can't" as an answer and to find support for following their dreams. Ages 4-7

Monday, October 8, 2012

Ben, King of the River by David Gifaldi

Illustrated by Layne Johnson.p., Whitman, 2006. Embarrassment, worry, and annoyance may be part of having a sibling who has a developmental disability - but so are creativity, empathy, and connection. In this story, Chad and his family go on their first camping trip together. Chad's 5-year-old younger brother, Ben, has a developmental disability, and knowing that Ben dislikes new experiences and has allergies, Chad worries about how Ben will react. Ben feels happiest and safest watching videos, and is prone to saying "no" and whining, and has toileting difficulties and little frustration tolerance. But it turns out that Ben enjoys playing in the cold river, watching the campfire start, and eating roasted marshmallows, Although he's socially inappropriate (he wants to hug new acquaintances, even if they've been unkind), he finds ways to make connections (high-fiving the new acquaintances, giving Chad a roasted marshmallow). And although Ben annoys Chad (for example, embarrassing him by screaming when he doesn't want to get out of the river, reacting strongly to the presence of a bug), Chad is supportive toward him (for example, showing him how to make a cape out of his beach towel, explaining his behavior to other kids). The vivid watercolor illustrations clearly show the children's emotional experiences. An afterword by the author's 13-year-old nephew, whose life situation is similar to Chad's, describes some of the disadvantages and advantages of living with a developmentally disabled sibling, and an empathic author's note offers coping strategies. With optimism and understanding, this story validates and normalizes the experiences of children whose sibling is developmentally disabled. Ages 5-11

Monday, October 1, 2012

Half a World Away by Libby Gleeso

Illustrated by Freya Blackwood.40 p., Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine, 2007. When your best friend moves far away, an important part of your life is gone. Amy and Louie are best friends. Among all the fun things they do together, they like to see shapes in the clouds. They call each other, "Coo-ee, Lou-ee" and "Coo-ee, Am-ee," and their friend always comes. But Amy moves so far away that when it's daytime where one child lives, it's night for the other child. They think about each other every day. When Louie hopes that Amy will still answer his special call, his parents explain that it isn't possible. But he's resourceful, and he keeps asking. His grandma tells him that it isn't impossible - so he calls as loudly as he can. He notices seahorses and dragons in the clouds, and the gentle watercolor illustrations show those clouds drifting all the way to Amy's new home, where she wakes up from a dream that he was calling her. This sweet story shows children that even when they're far, far away from someone they love, their connection remains. Ages 4-7

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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