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, February 24, 2014

Wind-Wild Dog by Barbara M. Joosse

Illustrated by Kate Kiesler. 40 p., Holt, 2006. Some children who are adopted, particularly at relatively older ages, may experience mixed feelings about their connection and belonging with their new family. In the life of a sled dog, this story provides a metaphor for this experience. Ziva is the last puppy to be adopted from her litter, at least partly because they’re spooked by her having one brown eye and one blue one. But she is finally adopted by the Man, who is kind and gentle to her. He has some of the wildness that Ziva experiences in herself, and he understands her wildness. When Ziva is ready to train, she finds that she loves pulling weight. But still, she sometimes wants to run wild. One day, Ziva helps to pull a sled for the first time. At a rest stop, runs off into the snow, delighting in her strength. She meets a wolf, and as she smells its fur, she smells her own fur too, and realizes that she smells wild, but also smells like the Man. She misses him, and runs back to him, to a loving reunion with him. Expressively illustrated with oil paintings in brown and blue tones, this story offers empathy with the mixed feelings that some adopted children may experience, and a model for resolution. Ages 4-8

Monday, February 17, 2014

My Father is in the Navy by Robin McKinley

Illustrated by Martine Gourbault. 24 p., Greenwillow, 1992. When your parent has been away for so long that you don't remember him, homecoming can be confusing. Sara knows that her daddy is in the Navy, and her mother talks about him and reads her Daddy's letters to her. Sara knows she's supposed to say goodnight to a picture of him every night, but she doesn't remember him. When it's time for him to come home, all the excitement around her perplexes her. But when Daddy asks Sara to say hello to him, she finds that she remembers him after all. With its softly colored illustrations, this story offers empathy to children whose parents have been away for longer than they can remember. Ages 4-6

Monday, February 10, 2014

A Cat and a Dog/Un Gato y un Perro by Claire Masurel

Translated by Andrés Antreasyan. Illustrated by Bob Kolar. 32 p., Ediciones Norte-Sur, 2001. When you live in the same house, you might have lots of disagreements and fights. Such is the case for the cat and the dog in this bilingual (Spanish/English) story. Of all the things the cat and the dog fight about, they fight most about their toys. Each is very protective of her or his own toys. But one day, the cat loses his/her toy in the water, and the dog loses his/her toy in a tree. Neither can get their own toy - but each can get the other's toy. They both see this solution to their problems, and each gets the other one's toy and returns it. After that, they become friends. With its simple, colorful illustrations, this story shows children an a way to cooperate, rather than fighting, with those they live with. Ages 3-7

Monday, February 3, 2014

Love, Lizzie: Letters to a Military Mom by Lisa Tucker McElroy

Illustrated by Diane Paterson. 32 p., Whitman, 2005. Having a parent who is away because of military service can be a particularly difficult form of separation. This story describes Lizzie's time while her mother is deployed overseas through Lizzie's letters to her mother, and occasionally, notes from Mommy to Lizzie. Lizzie describes her everyday life, along with expressing wishes that her mother will be home for special days and concerns about her mother's safety. She also sends Mommy maps that she's drawn with Daddy's help, which illustrate her experiences. At the end of the story, Mommy sends Lizzie a map that leads to Mommy's return. An afterword for parents gives helpful suggestions for supporting children as they manage this kind of separation. illustrated in colorful watercolors, this story supports children's coping with military separation, encouraging an active, age-appropriate role. Ages 6-11

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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