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, February 25, 2013

Scribbleville by Peter Holwitz

Illustrated by 40 p., Philomel, 2005. Although people are often uncomfortable with others who seem different from themselves, they can learn to appreciate diversity. This is the story of the town of Scribbleville, where everyone is scribbled, even the dogs and cats. One day, a stick-straight man arrives and builds himself a perfectly straight house. Most of the scribble people shake their heads and talk about how the stranger doesn't belong. They worry that more straight people might move to town, and then "there'll be more of them than there are of us!" But one scribbled woman becomes the stranger's friend. As she says to another friend, "on the outside he's odd, but that's not where I look." Belying the other townspeople's "us vs. them" mentality, she becomes a little straighter, and he becomes a little more scribbly. A similar kind of change appears in others in Scribbleville, starting with its children. The (former) stranger and the woman marry. And the entire appearance of Scribbleville changes. It has become a place where "whoever you are, you'll fit in well." This delightfully-illustrated rhyming story conveys a positive message about the value of diversity and hope for change. Ages 4-8

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Tissue, Please! by Lisa Kopelke

32 p., Simon, 2004. When you have a cold, it's important to learn to use tissues. Unfortunately for Frog and his friends, although both their classroom teacher and and their ballet teacher object to their sniffling and wiping their noses on their arms, neither offers an alternative. But Frog's parents have the answer: when he starts to sniffle in the middle of dinner, his father explains that that isn't polite and the table, and his mother gives him tissues. Frog discovers that when he blows his nose into a tissue, it feels great. So when his nose begins to run during his big ballet recital, one look from his teacher is all that it takes for him to remember to get a tissue. He incorporates blowing his nose into his dance move, inspiring his class. Both his teacher and the audience are pleased - and this begins a tradition of performing the "dance of the Tissue-Box Fairies." With its edgy, acrylic illustrations, this story may help make appropriate nose-blowing attractive to children. Ages 3-6

Monday, February 11, 2013

Flabbersmashed About You by Rachel Vail

Illustrated by Yumi Heo.32 p., Macmillan, 2012. It can be hurtful when your best friend wants to play with someone else. Katie has this experience when her best friend, Jennifer, would rather chase imaginary bad guys with Roy at recess than make imaginary soup with her. Katie feels lonely, hurt, angry, and "completely flabbersmashed." The children have to walk inside from recess with one buddy each, and Jennifer chooses Roy. But a quiet new girl, Arabella, chooses Katie.Katie feels accepted, and finds herself hopeful that she can have fun with Arabella. It's clear that this is a very different feeling from the lonely, angry, flabbersmashed feeling. The illustrations are energetic and evocative. This story offers children empathy for an important experience in their lives, and shows them that they can feel better. Ages 4-8

Monday, February 4, 2013

Skin Again by bell hooks

Illustrated by Chris Raschka.32 p., Hyperion, 2004. Our skin is only a small part of who we are. With eloquence and passion, this book tells us that in order to know one another, we have to look past skin, which, although it matters, is ultimately only a covering; and experience one another from the inside, with an open heart. We have to hear one another's stories of both the factual and the imagined. We have to see one another for who we really are, not who we expect one another to be. Vivid and dynamic, the illustrations show a range of skin tones, experiences of internal complexity, and connections between people. This books shows clearly how prejudice makes genuine connection impossible, and conversely, how genuine connection makes prejudice impossible. Ages 5-9

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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