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, November 26, 2012

Winners Never Quit! by Mia Hamm

Illustrated by Carol Thompson.32 p., HarperCollins, 2004. Sometimes kids confuse their enjoyment of an activity with their enjoyment of accomplishment or compliments. Such is the case for the little girl in this story. Mia loves sports, especially soccer, which she plays well - most of the time. When she can't score a goal, she quits. "She'd rather quit than lose." The next day, the kids won't let her play with them. They explain that they don't allow "quitters" and that learning to lose is part of playing. But the day after that, Mia plays again. When the goalie stops her shot, she's about to fall apart again, but she realizes that "she didn't hate losing as much as she loved soccer." And she continues playing, knowing that playing is more important than winning or losing. the expressive, appealing watercolor illustrations draw children into the story. In a culture that many people feel overvalues credentials and loses sight of process, this story helps kids appreciate their subjective enjoyment and let go of the need to compete relentlessly in even a fun activity. Ages 4-7

Monday, November 19, 2012

Oh, Brother! by Nikki Grimes

Illustrated by Mike Benny.32 p., HarperCollins, 2008. The arrival of a step-sibling can bring with it complicated feelings. Xavier doesn't mind it when his Mami dates - he goes with them, the only child, or has one-on-one time with his soon-to-be stepfather. But when his stepdad brings his son, Chris, Xavier immediately begins to worry that Chris will steal Mami. As time goes on, Chris is so perfect - washing dishes, doing homework perfectly, even getting to bed before bedtime - that Xavier feels as if Chris is making him look bad. Eventually, he confronts Chris about this, and to his surprise, discovers that Chris feels that if he isn't perfect, his dad might leave him, just as his mother did. Hearing this, Xavier's reaction to Chris becomes more complex, both welcoming and resentful. But their conversation has opened the way for Chris to sympathize with Xavier, and soon the boys develop a real connection. Finally, Xavier feels that they're truly brothers. When Xavier's Mami and stepdad have a baby daughter at the end of the story, Xavier has learned that there's always room in his family for someone new. The gouache illustrations parallel Xavier's perspectives, moving from metaphorical to realistic as the story goes on. This story offers empathy with the fears and resentments kids may feel in relation to their step-siblings, along with hope that genuine connection with a step-sibling is possible Ages 5-10

Monday, November 12, 2012

I Like Where I Am by Jessica Harper

Illustrated by G. Brian Karas.32 p., Putnam, 2004. When you like your house, your neighborhood, and your school, the thought of moving somewhere else can be troubling. And when the movers come, the 6-year-old boy in this story just wants to stay where he is. He sees no reason to move to Little Rock. The boy's mama comforts him while the movers pack their truck. And the boy discovers that things are OK in his new home, he has a new friend, and he even has a new kitten - a privilege that was reserved for his little sister in the old house. Although he'll always love his old house, he likes his new home too. With its charming, gentle illustrations and catchy rhythms and rhymes, this story offers empathy and hope to children anticipating a move. Ages 4-7

Monday, November 5, 2012

Heron and Turtle by Valeri Gorbachev

40 p., Philomel, 2006. Friendship can grow from doing things together, being considerate, and adapting to each other. In this story, Heron and Turtle are neighbors. One day, Turtle invites Heron to go for a walk with him. But they don't walk well together, because Heron walks much faster than Turtle. Turtle solves the problem: instead of walking, they ride in his boat together. Heron also stops by Turtle's house for a spontaneous visit, apologizing for its unexpectedness; Turtle responds by making lunch that meets both friends' needs. And both friends enjoy watching the sun set over the lake, listening to the sounds of the evening. With its peaceful ink and watercolor illustrations, this story gently shows children important aspects of being a friend. Ages 3-6

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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