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, March 25, 2013

The Happiest Tree: A Yoga Story by Uma Krishnaswami

Illustrated by Ruth Jeyaveeran.32 p., Lee & Low, 2005. When you knock things over without meaning to, and it's hard to stay still, it's hard to feel self-confident. Such is the case for Meena, who feels that she can't act in her class play because she's too clumsy and distracted. When her teacher won't take no for an answer, she reluctantly accepts the part of a tree. But even this is hard for her. She stumbles and trips. Although her parents, teacher, and Auntie (the friendly storekeeper at the Indian grocery) are all accepting and reassuring, Meena feels terrible. While at the store, though, Meena discovers a yoga class for kids. Her immediate reaction is that she can't do yoga because she's too clumsy. But Auntie encourages her to try. Although yoga is challenging for her, Meena learns to use her breathing to find stillness, and finds that her worries dissipate, too. She discovers that "If I am quiet inside, my body will be still." At the class play, despite making a clumsy entrance, Meena is able to recover by using yoga breathing, and in the process, discovers her self-confidence. The story is illustrated with acrylic paintings that are both gentle and colorful, and show facial expressions that convey nuances of emotion clearly. Children will feel encouraged by Meena's success, and may even want to try yoga. Ages 6-10

Monday, March 18, 2013

Jibberwillies at Night by Rachel Vail

Illustrated by Yumi Heo. 32 p., Scholastic, 2008. Even for a happy kid like Katie, sometimes the Jibberwillies come at night. Katie is a competent child, and when that happens, she knows what to do. First, she whispers "go away." But they don't. So next, she tries thinking about nice things. But the Jibberwillies are still there. Having tried to solve the problem on her own, next, she calls her mother. Gentle and wise, her mother offers her a bucket to catch the Jibberwillies. But they're too fast and too slippery, and Katie can't catch them. She's discouraged and hopeless. But her mother has a plan. If Katie will say the Jibberwillies out loud, her mother will catch them in the bucket - and, since Katie suggests this, will throw them out the window. When they do this, Katie can sleep again. Exuberantly illustrated, this story shows kids that by using your creativity, and getting help when you need it, it's possible to feel safe even on scary nights. Ages 4-8

Monday, March 11, 2013

Nikolai, the Only Bear by Barbara M. Joosse

Illustrated by Renata Liwska 32 p., Philomel, 2005. Nikolai is the only bear in a Russian orphanage. Although he does what his caregivers ask, they don't realize this because they don't speak Bear. Eventually, a bearded man and a smooth-faced woman come to visit him. Nikolai seems to know instinctively that the "fur-faced" man is like him. The visitors seem to understand him too: instead of correcting Nikolai the way his caregivers do, they join him, growling in response to his growls, prowling on the floor with him, pawing the air when Nikolai does. Having found a family where he belongs, Nikolai goes home with them to America. This gently illustrated story celebrates the experience of belonging that comes with adoption. Ages 3-7

Monday, March 4, 2013

Guess Who, Baby Duck! by Amy Hest

Illustrated by Jill Barton. 32 p., Candlewick, 2004. Sometimes when you don't feel well, it might feel better to remember happier times. When Baby Duck has a cold, her Grampa shows her pictures of herself when she was much younger. She enjoys the pictures, and feels inspired. As she starts to feel a little better, she draws Grampa a picture that he likes - a picture of him, and his loving care for her. Colorfully illustrated, this story offers children empathy with feeling under the weather, along with a way to feel a better. 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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