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, August 26, 2013

My Secret Bully by Trudy Ludwig

Illustrated by Abigail Marble. 32 p., Free Spirit, 2004. Sometimes bullying isn't obvious, but at those times, it can still be extremely painful. Monica calls Katie her secret bully. The girls, who look as if they're in late elementary school, have been friends since kindergarten, and have many similar interests. But now, Katie is sometimes mean to Monica for no reason that Monica can detect. She talks to other girls and looks at Monica. She tells Monica that if she plays with Sarah, she won't play with her. She won't let Monica play with her and Sarah. When Monica asks Katie whether she's angry with her, Katie just accuses her of being "too sensitive." Monica worries that something is wrong with her, has trouble concentrating on her homework, and gets frequent stomach aches. Her mom keeps asking what's troubling her, and Monica finally tells her. Mom really listens, and talks with her about ways to assert herself. When Monica looks Katie in the eye and says, "'does it make you feel good to make me feel bad? Because friends don't do that to friends,'" she realizes that Katie can't hurt her any more. Although she's sad to lose her friendship with Katie, Monica wisely reflects that "real friends don't treat each other the way she treated me." She makes new friends and feels better about herself. An afterword for adults explains issues related to relational bullying and suggests ways to help. There are also a list of ways to cope, discussion questions, and a resource list. With its expressive, softly-colored, watercolor illustrations, this story helps empower children who experience emotional bullying. Ages 5-11

Monday, August 19, 2013

Annie's Plan by Jeanne Kraus

Illustrated by Charles Beyl. 48 p., Magination, 2007. Difficulty with attention or organizational skills can interfere with even a bright child's life, causing frustration and discouragement and annoying parents. Annie is smart, but at school, her attention isn't on her lessons and she doesn't complete her work. At home, she often forgets her homework, which takes her a long time to do. She especially hates it when he knows she's done her homework, but doesn't have it when it's time to turn it in. Annie, her teacher, and her parents agree that she needs a plan. This book shows kids two 10-point plans, one for schoolwork and one for homework, and explains each step. The plans consist of solid strategies to help with attention and organization, whether or not the child has an official diagnosis of an attention disorder. When Annie, her parents, and her teacher implement the plans, Annie is delighted to find that she is having great days at school. A 10-page afterword for parents and educators explains the plans in greater detail. With its cheerful illustrations, this story gives truly useful information in a way that's accessible to kids and adults, along with promoting optimism about kids' success. Ages 6-11

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Peanut-Free Cafe by Gloria Koster

Illustrated by Maryann Cocca-Leffler.32 p., Whitman, 2006. When a fussy eater comes into contact with a serious food allergy, problems can result. Simon will only eat four foods: peanut butter - his favorite - bagels, green grapes, and purple lollipops. He brings peanut butter on a bagel to school for lunch every day. Many of his friends eat peanut butter frequently, too. Grant, who is new to Simon's school, has a severe peanut allergy. Simon likes Grant very much, and finds that they have a lot in common. He feels terrible knowing that his favorite food could make someone sick, but also worries that peanuts will be prohibited at school. The principal establishes a peanut-free table, but Grant is alone there. Simon suggests making it a more fun place - which attracts a lot of students, but not Simon. He isn't ready to give up his peanut butter sandwiches. When the Peanut-Free Cafe shows his favorite movies, it becomes very difficult for him to stay away. He's so distressed that he loses his appetite. So the next morning, he asks his mother for a lunch that isn't peanut butter - "anything at all." All she can find is chili - but this is enough to let Simon eat lunch with his friends. As the story ends, Simon now eats five foods, and enjoys peanut butter on the weekends. An afterword by a pediatrician explains peanut allergies to adults. With its colorful, energetic illustrations, this story shows children that it's both possible and desirable for even a fussy eater to adjust to another person's food allergy, and offers reassurance that they need not give up the foods they love in order to do this. Ages 4-7

Monday, August 5, 2013

Eddie: Harold's Little Brother by Ed Koch and Pat Koch Thaler

Illustrated by James Warhola. 32 p., Putnam, 2004. When you want to be like someone you admire, you can sometimes miss noticing your own strengths. Eddie wants to be like his older brother, Harold, who is an excellent athlete. Harold is supportive, playing catch with Eddie, and insisting that other kids include Eddie on their baseball team. But Eddie just isn't good at sports, although after the games, he talks about them in great detail. Finally, Harold suggests that Eddie find something besides sports - something that he does well and loves doing. Eddie replies that he likes to talk, and Harold suggests that he compete in a public-speaking contest at school. He gives Eddie honest feedback about his strengths and limitations. And Eddie wins the public-speaking contest with a speech titled, "Doing What You Do Best." Harold is enormously proud of him. And Eddie grows up to use his strength in speaking to become a lawyer, and then mayor of New York City. With friendly watercolor illustrations, this story not only shows kids a wonderful example of a supportive relationship between siblings, but also encourages them to consider their own strengths. Ages 4-8

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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