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

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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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