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, September 30, 2013

You Can't Do That, Amelia! by Kimberly Wagner Klier

Illustrated by Kathleen Kemly.32 p., Calkins Creek, 2008. From the time she is a little girl in Kansas, Amelia (Earhart) dreams big, and has every intention of making her dreams a reality. From her childhood and into her adulthood, people tell her, "You can't do that, Amelia!" Each time, says this book, "But Amelia did" - from building a roller coaster in her backyard, to learning to fly, to participating in the 1929 Women's Air Derby, to flying solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Even when things don't go well, or when she is frightened or discouraged, she persists. The story ends with her triumphant landing in Ireland. An afterword summarizes her life in more detail, and includes a brief description of her final flight. A time line and a list of other biogrraphical resources are also included.With its colorful, upbeat illustrations, this story supports children's capacity for self-confidence, even in situations of prejudice against them. Ages 7-10

Monday, September 23, 2013

Every Year on Your Birthday by Rose Lewis

Illustrated by Jane Dyer. 32 p., Little, Brown, 2007. Adoption can bring special thoughts on a birthday. Every year on her daughter's birthday, a European American mother lovingly remembers all of her daughter's previous birthdays, and how much she has grown up. She imagines her daughter's life in China as a newborn, and remembers her anticipation of adopting her. Together, mother and daughter, who enjoy both American and Chinese traditions, remember the girl's Chinese family, and feel a sense of connection between the two families. Illustrated with watercolor paintings that are both gentle and exuberant, this story celebrates the love of a multicultural adoptive family. Ages 3-6

Monday, September 16, 2013

Willy and Max: A Holocaust Story by Amy Littlesugar

Illustrated by William Low. 40 p., Philomel, 2006. Friendship can transcend war. Willy (who would grow up to become the narrator's Grandpa Will) lived in Belgium, where his parents owned an antique store. A shy little boy, Will wishes he had a friend. His wish comes true when Professor Solomon and his son, Max, visit the store. While Professor Solomon buys a special paining called The Lady, Willy and Max discover that they both like to play hide-and-seek. From then on, the two boys are inseparable. Willy understands that because Max is Jewish, he is in danger from the Nazis. But they don't talk about that. They play in the park, and one Friday, Willy has Shabbos dinner at Max's home. When Max and his father have to leave Antwerp because of Nazi persecution, Willy's father hides The Lady for them. However the Nazi soldiers steal it from them. More than sixty years later, when grandpa Will lives in the United States, a museum calls him, saying they've found something that belongs to him. They had recovered The Lady. With it was a photograph of Willy and Max as boys. The curator has been unable to find Max, and Will asks him to try harder. Eventually, she finds out that Max had died recently, but has a family. There is a moving reunion of the two families at Shabbos dinner. With its warmly-colored mixed-media illustrations that have the feel of oil paintings, this story celebrates the strength of friendship, in spite of war. Ages 7-10

Monday, September 9, 2013

Pepo and Lolo Are Friends by Ana Martín Larrañaga

24 p., Candlewick, 2004. Regardless of their differences and conflicts, friends can still be friends. Pepo, a pig, and Lolo, and chick, are friends. They like to do many of the same things, although sometimes one has better skills. Although they can become angry at each other, this never lasts long, because their friendship is more important. With its simple, expressive, colorful mixed-media illustrations, this story introduces important ideas about friendship to the youngest children. Ages 1-3

Monday, September 2, 2013

Nathan's Wish: A Story About Cerebral Palsy by Laurie Lears

Illustrated by Stacey Schuett. 32 p., Whitman, 2005. When a chronic condition limits what you can do, it's easy to become discouraged. Nathan has cerebral palsy and is unable to move around without a wheelchair or a walker. He wishes more than anything to walk on his own. Nathan's neighbor, Miss Sandy, take care of injured raptors until they're well enough to fly again, and he enjoys watching her, although he wishes he could help, too. Miss Sandy takes care of an owl that Nathan names Fire. Fire has a broken wing, and seems to want very much to fly and to hunt for her own food. It's hard for Nathan to wait for Fire's wing to heal, but finally, she's well enough to try flying in a large cage. At first, she soars, but then she falls to the ground. With empathy and deep sadness, Nathan realizes that she will always need to be in captivity. In the following days, Fire seems depressed. Nathan wants to help. He goes online and finds an article about another owl, nearly blind, who serves as owlets' foster mother. He shares the article with Miss Sandy, who decides to try this with Fire. At first, Fire appears completely uninterested in the nestlings. But one day, she begins to feed them. Nathan comments, "Although Fire's wish to be free can't come true, she has found something important to do. And that give me an idea!" He finds ways to help Miss Sandy after all - filling the birds' baths with a hose and a lot of persistence, taking in the mail, answering her phone and taking messages. Miss Sandy appreciates his help, and he feels very proud. Illustrated with expressive oil paintings, this story offers empathy, support, and encouragement, showing children how to find and make use of their strengths regardless of their limitations. Ages 4-8

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