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 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

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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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