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, May 27, 2013

Remembering Grandpa by Uma Krishnaswami

Illustrated by Layne Johnson. 32 p., Boyds Mills, 2007. When someone has died, it can be hard for children to bear adults' sadness. A year after the death of little bunny Daysha's grandpa, her grandma "came down with a bad case of sadness." Daysha decides to look for a cure. To do this, she visits many of Grandpa's favorite places, bringing back things that remind her of him. As she does, she remembers Grandpa lovingly, moving through her own sense of loss. When she's piled the special things in Grandpa's favorite spot on the back steps, she brings Grandma out to see them. They both cry, especially Grandma, who acknowledges this lovely tribute, and takes Daysha for ice cream, just as Grandpa used to. Daysha understands that Grandma's sadness doesn't need a cure after all, "just hugs, and the right kind of remembering." This story is illustrated with sweet oil paintings. It contains important, supportive messages about both remembering someone who has died, and sharing the experience of loss. Ages 6-8

Monday, May 20, 2013

Milli, Jack, and the Dancing Cat by Stephen Michael King

32 p., Philomel, 2004. Sometimes creative children may be shy about expressing their imagination. Children who feel this way will find a role model in Milli, who has the soul of an artist and spends her days making very plain shoes. When two vagabond minstrels, Jack and the Dancing Cat, wander into town, they agree to trade dance lessons for new shoes. Milli finds that dancing makes her feel free and confident. When it's time to make shoes for her new friends, she makes unique, remarkable ones - and makes herself some special things, too. Jack encourages Milli to show her creativity to the world, Although she's scared at first, dancing helps her to remember what it feels like to be confident, and she decides to go ahead. People love what she's made, and she continues on her creative path. The watercolor and ink illustrations are both gentle and exuberant. Milli will help children feel free to express their true selves. Ages 5-8

Monday, May 13, 2013

This Morning Sam Went To Mars by Nancy Carlson

32 p., Free Spirit, 2013. When you have trouble paying attention to things in your everyday life, it’s hard to do what’s expected of you. Sam has a wonderful imagination, and tends to pay more attention to the adventures he invents than to getting ready for school on time or doing schoolwork. His dad, his teacher, and people in general are always telling him to focus. Sam feels frustrated and sad, and doubts his own abilities. Knowing that Sam’s abilities are strong, his dad takes him to a doctor. The doctor tells Sam that he has a powerful brain that needs good care; for example, adequate sleep and a non-distracting place for his desk. (She also tells him to reduce his junk food intake and to eat “super foods” daily. It seems to me that this isn’t likely to be harmful, although my reading of the literature suggests that the role of nutrition in attention problems has not been well established). Medication isn’t mentioned. Sam’s doctor also encourages him to use his imagination. Sam works hard to do as his doctor has suggested, but sometimes it’s still hard to pay attention, and people still tell him to focus. But he persists, and eventually, with continued effort, although he isn’t perfect, he’s able to do well in daily activities and in school. He also continues to enjoy his imagination. Illustrated with charming, upbeat drawings, this story offers empathy and support to children who struggle with attention. Ages 4-8

Monday, May 6, 2013

Andrew Jessup by Nette Hilton

Illustrated by Cathy Wilcox. 32p., Ticknor & Fields, 1992. When your best friend moves away, things will never be the same - but things could still be good. In this story, a girl's best friend, Andrew Jessup, moves away from his house next door. She remembers all the fun they used to have together, and she misses him. His house stays empty for a long time, but finally Madeleine and her family move in. Although Madeleine doesn't like all of the things Andrew liked, she and the girl find ways to have fun together. They even enjoy some of the activities the girl used to enjoy with Andrew. The girl finds she can make room in her life for both her new friend Madeleine and her best faraway friend Andrew. Charmingly illustrated with expressive watercolors, this story offers empathy and hope for children whose best friend moves away. Ages 3-7

About the Author

My photo
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.

Blog Archive