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, January 28, 2013

I'll See You In the Morning by Mike Jolley

Illustrated by Mique Moriuchi. 32 p., 2005. Sometimes all that's needed at bedtime is a caring adult's presence and a reassuring metaphor. In this sweet book, the adult narrator gives lots of assurance that s/he will stay nearby, and describes the night as "a blanket that helps the earth to sleep," uniting the child with all the gentle creatures in the world who are under it. With its colorful, childlike, soothing illustrations, this book offers a sense of safety and calm at bedtime. Ages 0-5

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Language of Doves by Rosemary Wells

Illustrated by Greg Shed. 32 p., Dial, 1996. Julietta's grandfather gives her a dove for her sixth birthday, and Julietta names her Isabella. Her grandfather tells her how he kept doves at the monastery where he was raised as an orphan. One dove, also named Isabella, is very special to him. At the age of nine, along with his doves, he is drafted into World War I to send messages within the army. His Isabella is seriously injured, yet manages to come home to him. He cares for her and keeps her safe. Just after Julietta turns nine, her grandfather dies. Her Isabella, who was at his house, has been sold with his other doves to an out-of-state breeder. Yet she returns home to Julietta, bearing a message of love and hope from Grandfather. This story offers children hope of maintaining connections and caring in spite of war, and beyond death. Ages 7-11

Monday, January 14, 2013

Bearcub and Mama by Sharon Jennings

Illustrated by Mélanie Watt. 32 p., Kids Can, 2005. Part of growing up is to move from having a parent literally with you to having that parent in your heart. Bearcub learns this as he grows. First, he always follows his mama. As he gets a little older, he starts to explore on his own. When he gets caught in a storm, he howls for Mama, but she doesn't find him. He realizes that he should go home, finds his scent, and follows his trail back to his den. Mama isn't there, but her scent comforts him, and he remembers that she'd told him that storms always pass. And in the morning, Mama has returned. Bearcub proudly tells her that he remembered that storms pass. Now he has her with him inside, in his memories and thoughts. Illustrated with tender acrylic paintings, this story helps children take love and security with them wherever they go. Ages 3-6

Monday, January 7, 2013

Boundless Grace by Mary Hoffman

Illustrated by Caroline Binch. 28 p., Dial, 1995. When your family doesn't fit with the images of families that you're exposed to, it can be confusing. And it can be even more confusing to meet a father whom you haven't seen since you were very little. Grace lives with her ma and her nana in the United States, and sees herself as not having a father. But she does have a father, and he lives in Africa with Grace's stepmother and young stepsister and stepbrother.Grace is surprised when he sends her tickets for Nana and her to visit him there. At first, Grace feels as if she doesn't belong in this family - they're complete without her, and this family has the "wrong" mother. But she finds that she can't help liking her step-siblilngs. She feels that she has to be annoyed with someone, though, and, having read stories about wicked stepmothers, chooses her stepmother, Jatou. Once her father reassures her of his love for her, she's able to like Jatou, and to enjoy African cultural experiences. But she misses Ma, and feels homesick when they talk on the phone. She feels as if there isn't enough of her for two familieis. Nana assures her that there's plenty of her. By the time her visit is drawing to a close, Grace has begun to see her family as normal, not as a family that should fit the mold of those in the stories she's read. She decides that the story of her family will end with living happily ever after, "though not all in the same place." The pencil and watercolor illustrations are evocative of Grace's feelings and the closeness of her relationships. With Grace, children will understand that there are all kinds of families, and "families are what you make them." Ages 5-8

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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