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, July 29, 2013

Finklehopper Frog Cheers by Irene Livingston

Illustrated by Brian Lies. 24 p., Tricycle, 2005. Friends not only have fun together, but also support each other in difficult moments. In this rhyming story, Finklehopper Frog worries about going to a picnic because others might laugh at him or try to grab his hat. But he goes anyway, even though he's scared, because his friend, Ruby Rabbit, will be there. And when bullies tease him about his hat, Ruby answers them with cheerfulness, and they slink off. Then it's time for a race, and it's Ruby's turn to worry - she faces tough competition from Sue Kangaroo. But with Finklehopper's encouragement, she tries her best. When she finishes second to Sue, she bursts into tears, yelling "no fair!" Finklehopper tells her he's proud of her because she did her best, and raced even though she was worried. Ruby congratulates Sue on her win, and has learned that when everyone does their best, then everyone wins. The story ends with happy high-fives. The energy of the color illustrations matches the liveliness of the rhyming text. Finklehopper and Sue are lovely examples of supportive friendship, and children will learn important things about coping with bullies and competition too. Ages 4-6

Monday, July 22, 2013

A Place Where Sunflowers Grow by Amy Lee-Tai

Illustrated by Felicia Hoshino. 32 p., Children's Book Press, 2006. Systematic acts of egregious racism are painful and confusing. When Mari's family is placed in an internment camp in Utah during World War II, she is discouraged and confused. She knows she's done nothing wrong, yet much has been taken from her. There were sunflowers in their old home, and Mari's mother plants sunflower seeds. Mari attends art classes twice a week in the camp, and at the first class, she can't think of anything to draw. Her parents each offer empathy and encouragement. At the second class meeting, with her teacher's support, Mari thinks of something to draw: her garden back home. Her parents and brother enjoy her picture, and it seems to brighten their barrack. As she continues to make art, Mari also becomes able to ask Papa about some of her worries, and as a result, she receives reassurance. She also makes friends with a classmate, and becomes more able to participate in class. But she's still discouraged about the sunflower seeds her Mama had planted - until her new friend points out that they've begun to grow. The seedlings give Mari hope that she can stay connected to her life outside the camp. This bilingual (English/Japanese) story is based on the author's mother's experiences, and some of the softly colored multimedia illustrations are based on the author's grandmother's paintings. This story shows children how to use imagination and creativity to cope with even the most difficult experiences. Ages 6-11

Monday, July 15, 2013

Halibut Jackson by David Lucas

32 p., Knopf, 2004. When you're shy, sometimes your way of coping with it is also a way to make connections with other people. Halibut Jackson is shy, and so determined not to be noticed that he has clothes for every occasion that help him to blend into the background - literally. For example, for the library, he has a suit that looks like books. When Halibut is invited to the queen's birthday party, he's faced with a dilemma. He wants to see the silver, gold, and jewel-covered palace for himself. But because he's shy, he doesn't like parties. Halibut dreams up a solution: he makes himself a silver, gold, and jewel-covered suit for the party. He reasons that if he wears this, he won't be noticed at the party. To his surprise, it turns out to be a garden party. Everyone notices him, and everyone wants a beautiful suit like his. He makes suits for everyone, and opens a shop that sells all kinds of clothes. His shyness seems not to matter so much any more. Whimsically illustrated in a style that recalls Maurice Sendak, this story is especially wonderful because it doesn't tell kids to stop being shy, but instead, encourages them to be exactly who they are. Ages 4-8

Monday, July 8, 2013

Ian's Walk: A Story About Autism by Laurie Lears

Illustrated by Karen Ritz. 32p., Whitman, 2006. Siblings of children who have disabilities have challenges of their own. Julie's younger brother, Ian, has autistic disorder. As she, her older sister, Tara, and Ian walk to the park, she explains some of the ways that his sensory experiences differ from most people's, and in the process, expresses the impatience, embarrassment, and worry that she sometimes feels as a result. At the park, Ian wanders off when Julie isn't looking. To find him, she tries to think like Ian, and her understanding leads her to him. Relieved to find him, she is more patient and empathic on their way home, doing things the way he wants to and helping to keep him safe. He rewards her with a rare, brief smile. Illustrated with expressive, light-filled watercolors, this story offers empathy and acceptance to children who have an autistic sibling. Ages 6-9

Monday, July 1, 2013

Ben Has Something to Say: A Story About Stuttering by Laurie Lears

Illustrated by Karen Ritz. 32 p., Whitman, 2000. Some children who stutter hesitate to talk. Ben finds ways not to talk at school, but he likes to tell his Dad about his day because Dad never laughs at him or teases him. Ben especially likes visiting a junkyard with Dad, who is a mechanic. At the junkyard, Ben meets Spike, a very friendly, but rather neglected, dog. Ben is loving and empathic with Spike, and the two become friends. When Ben tries to communicate with the manager about Spike, but won't talk, the manager thinks that Ben is shy. He asks Dad to speak for him, but Dad wisely and matter-of-factly reminds him, "'you can't let your stuttering keep you from talking.'" On one visit to the junkyard, the manager is angry because Spike has failed to protect the junkyard from a robbery. He is going to take Spike to the pound. Ben senses the importance of speaking, and when he offers to buy Spike, he doesn't even care that he stutters. Dad is clearly proud of Ben, and Spike rides home in Dad's pickup truck with them. With this success, Ben begins to feel courageous about speaking. A foreword dispels myths about stuttering and offers suggestions for ways to talk with someone who stutters, and a resource list is included. Illustrated with expressive watercolors, this story will empower children by helping them to value the meaning of their words over their form. Ages 3-8

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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