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, April 29, 2013

Cory Stories by Jeanne Kraus

Illustrated by Whitney Martin.32 p., Magination, 2005. Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) comes with many struggles. Cory describes these: feeling wiggly, getting overexcited, speaking before he thinks, having difficulty explaining his ideas, having a hard time thinking about anything for as long as other kids do, forgetting to do chores and homework - in spite of his best efforts - being disorganized, losing things, clumsiness, sloppy work, having trouble making friends, having kids inexplicably make fun of him, and being picked last for sports teams. These problems come with a lot of feelings for Cory: his is angry, frustrated, sad, hurt, and embarrassed. His parents take him to a psychiatrist who diagnoses ADHD. Cory is relieved to have a reason for the ways that he feels, and relieved that because ADHD is common, he isn't so different from other kids. The psychiatrist prescribes medication and recommends psychotherapy with someone Cory refers to as a "talking doctor," who helps him feel to better about himself and to make better choices. With the help of his parents, teacher, and therapist, Cory learns new things to do to help with the difficulties he has. He learns to appreciate his strengths. His teacher tells his parents that his schoolwork and behavior are improving. Cory feels proud and optimistic. There is an afterword for parents that helps them understand ADHD and gives good ideas for ways to address it with kids. Illustrated with energetic black-and-white drawings, this story offers empathy and optimism to kids who have ADHD. Ages 6-11

Monday, April 22, 2013

Brianna Breathes Easy: A Story About Asthma by Virginia Kroll

Illustrated by Jayoung Cho.32 p., Whitman, 2005. When you're first diagnosed with asthma, it can be scary and confusing, but you can learn how to keep in under control. As this story begins, Brianna is excited to have the lead role in her school play. But she also begins to have coughing spasms, and her Mama and older sister think she may be getting sick. Since she feels fine otherwise, she keeps going to school and rehearsing for the play. During the dress rehearsal, she has a severe coughing spasm, and paramedics take her to the hospital. There, she is diagnosed with asthma. Her doctor explains what asthsma is, and shows her pictures of the respiratory system. She tells Brianna what commonly triggers asthma attacks, and explains that as long as she takes her medicine when needed and checks her peak flow meter, she can do whatever she wants to do.When Brianna goes back to school, she talks about her asthma with two classmates who have the same diagnosis. Brianna does a great job as the lead in the play, and her family celebrates together, with special support from Grampy. With its colorful illustrations, this story will help children understand what asthma is, and supports their optimism about controlling it. Ages 5-8

Monday, April 15, 2013

A Froggy Fable by John Lechner

32 p., Candlewick, 2005. Change may be difficult for many of us, and it's all the more so for people (or frogs) who thrive on stability. The frog in this story likes his life at the pond partly because everything is always the same. He's annoyed when otters move in and begin to splash in the pond, when blue jays move in and squawk, and when a tree falls into the pond. But what really disrupts his existence is being carried off in a jar by a boy. The boy takes the frog away on his bike, but when he hits a rock, the frog falls off. He is utterly lost. There's nothing he can do but wander, and he does this for weeks, in spite of dangers and sees many wonders on his journey. Finally he finds his own pond again - and he's actually happy to see the otters, the blue jays, and the tree. He makes himself a new home that's even better than his old one. And because he's learned that he can handle anything, he doesn't mind change so much any more. The deceptively simple watercolor and ink illustrations show the frog's emotions unmistakably. Children who struggle with change and newness can use the frog's story to find hope that they, too, can handle anything that comes their way. Ages 3-8

Monday, April 8, 2013

Two Bobbies: A True Story of Hurricane Katrina, Friendship, and Survival by Kirby Larson and Mary Nethery

Illustrated by Jean Cassels.32 p., Walker, 2008. In times of disaster, friendship can mean survival. Bobbi the dog Bob Cat are best friends who live in New Orleans. When Hurricane Katrina strikes, they are left behind, Bobbi chained to the porch. Bob Cat says with Bobbi, first at their house, and then in the streets, when Bobbi breaks free. After four months, they wander onto a construction site, and a worker who has a dog at the site begins to feed them. Whenever he tries to touch Bob Cat, Bobbi growls protectively. After a week, his supervisor will no longer allow the Two Bobbies on the site, and so the worker takes them to a shelter. At first, they are housed separately their, but Bobbi howls and barks until they're placed in the same room. The shelter volunteers make a startling discovery - Bob Cat is blind. He probably would not have survived without Bobbi's protection, and his friendship may have strengthened Bobbi's determination. Unable to find the Bobbies' family in spite of their best efforts, the shelter staff finds a loving adoptive family where Bobbi and Bob Cat live happily together with a human and another dog. With its gentle, earth-toned, gouache illustrations, this story is full of hope. Ages 4-8

Monday, April 1, 2013

Horace by Holly Keller

32 p., Greenwillow, 1991. When you're adopted, it can be confusing to look different from your parents. Horace is a leopard who has been adopted into a tiger family. Although his mother tells him daily that she and his father chose him, and like his spots, he doesn't always grasp the full meaning of this. Horace's cousins come to his birthday party, and they're all tigers. Horace feels sad because he experiences himself as different and "wrong." After dreaming of being someplace where everyone looked like him, he decides to look for that place. While visiting a carnival, he meets a family of leopards and enjoys playing with them. But he starts to miss his Mama and Papa, and trusting his instincts, he decides to go home. His parents welcome him, and he decides that he chooses them, too. Illustrated with charming ink-and-watercolor paintings that are exuberant without being overstimulating, this story offers empathy to adopted children who don't look like their families and understanding that family connection goes beyond appearance. Ages 4-7

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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