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 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

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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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