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, December 31, 2012

The Hello, Goodbye Window by Norton Juster

Illustrated by Chris Raschka. 32 p., 2005. Relationships with grandparents can be a special source of joy and security for children. In this story by the author of the absolutely wonderful children's novel The Phantom Tollbooth, a little girl has special times at her Nanna and Poppy's house. Their house has a Hello, Goodbye Window where the girl greets her grandparents when she arrives, looks for the pizza delivery person, and even expects the queen of England and tyrannosaurus rex. When it's time to go home, she blows goodbye kisses through the window. The girl shares memories with Nanna and eats Poppy's delicious breakfasts, draws pictures, enjoys Poppy's jokes, and helps Nanna in the garden. There are limits at Nanna and Poppy's house (the girl can ride her bike, but not in the street; she can collect sticks, but not bring them into the house) but these don't seem to bother the girl a bit. When Mommy and Daddy pick the girl up, she's happy to go home, but sad to leave her grandparents, and acknowledges this combination of feelings in an informative, matter-of-fact way. The girl plans to have a special Hello, Goodbye Window in her own house when she grows up to be a Nanna. The colorful, exuberant illustrations add to this story's delight. The Hello, Goodbye Window offers a sense of warmth, security, and fun, empathy with transitions, and acknowledgement of complicated emotions. Ages 4-8

Monday, December 24, 2012

Neil's Castle by Alissa Imre Geis

32 p., Viking, 2004. Imagination is a special gift, and there's a unique satisfaction in bringing what we've imagined into the visible world. Neil dreams of a beautiful castle, and wakes up remembering all the details of it. He tries several ways to re-create the castle, problem-solving intelligently by considering what doesn't work about one solution and trying another. It doesn't work as a sand castle, a block castle, or a castle made from chairs and a blanket. He explains to his father that he wants to draw something "really big - bigger than me," and his father helps him line the walls of his room with huge pieces of paper. Neil draws his castle on the paper, stopping from time to time to consider its similarity to his dream castle. When it's just right, he paints it. He's excited to show his father, and when they pull up chairs, it's as if they're sitting inside the castle - just as Neil did in his dream, except this time, they're together and close. The illustrations are colorful, and at the same time have a contemplative quality that fits the mood of the book. This story shows children how they can use problem-solving and imagination together to create joy and connection. Ages 4-7

Monday, December 17, 2012

We Shake in a Quake by Hannah Gelman Givon

Illustrated by David Uttal.32 p., Tricycle, 2006. Earthquakes are scary, but they're more tolerable when you can talk about your feelings, understand what's happened, and feel prepared for the next one. As this story begins, a little boy wakes to an earthquake. He stays under his bed, frightened but trying to stay calm, until the shaking stops, and his parents and his friendly puppy come to him. Mom and Daddy compliment the child's behavior, and everyone in the family acknowledges how scary the earthquake was. Although there's minor damage in the house, the adults reassure the child that this isn't important, because people stayed safe. The adults make a safety plan so that everyone can be prepared for any future earthquakes. The children want to help implement it, and so they go shopping with their Mom for non-perishable food (including food for the dog), bottled water, wet wipes, and battery-operated flashlights and radio. Afterward, they store the supplies in the hall closet. When the child goes back to school, kids talk about their feelings about the earthquake, the class practices "drop and cover" drills, and their teacher explains the geology of earthquakes. The child also copes with distressed feelings by drawing angry pictures and creating his own, controllable, earthquakes with toy block buildings. The book includes a glossary of earthquake-related words and an afterword on earthquake preparedness. With its energetic rhymes and Dr. Seuss-inspired watercolor illustrations, this story addresses both the practical and the emotional aspects of earthquakes in an accessible, child-friendly way. Ages 4-8

Monday, December 10, 2012

Sofie and the City by Karima Grant

Illustrated by Janet Montecalvo.32 p., Boyds, 2006. When you move to a new country, you miss the beauty and friendliness of home. Such is the case for Sofie, who has moved to a large U.S. city (perhaps New York) with her parents from Senegal. In phone conversations with her grandmother, Mame, Sofie describes her experience of her new home as ugly and isolating. She tells Mame that she wants to return to Senegal. Her wise Mame tells her, "before you come back, you will just have to make it pretty." Beauty and friendship arrive together, in the form of a neighbor girl named Kenya who colors on the sidewalk with chalk. When Sofie joins Kenya in coloring, she draws her first home and her grandmother. This allows her to connect her old and new homes, and with a new friend, her new home doesn't seem so ugly any more. With its colorful illustrations, this story shows children important ways to feel at home in a new country. Ages 3-7

Monday, December 3, 2012

Rolling Along: The Story of Taylor and His Wheelchair by Jamee Riggio Heelan

Illustrated by Nicola Simmonds.30 p., Peachtree, 2000. Taylor and his twin brother, Tyler, have similar interests and are best friends. There is also an important difference between them: Taylor has cerebral palsy, and Tyler does not. Taylor explains that this condition causes his brain to tell his muscles to jump, instead of moving more smoothly. He has used a walker and braces on his legs for a long time, and has regular physical therapy to help him get stronger. But he still feels frustrated sometimes because he had to depend on other people; for example, his mom had to carry him to physical therapy visits. So when he starts to use a wheelchair, he's excited about the speed and independence that will be possible for him. He's even able to play basketball with Tyler! A classmate thinks that moving on foot is better than using a wheelchair, but when Taylor explains its advantages, his friend is happy for him. Learning to use a wheelchair takes work, both to operate the chair itself and to pay attention to buildings' accessibility. But for Taylor, it brings a sense of invincibility. This story is illustrated with engaging, attractive collages of drawings and photographs. Both children have disabilities and children who don't will better understand the experience of using a wheelchair, and will be happy for Taylor as his world expands. Ages 4-8

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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