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, March 31, 2014

Not a Stick by Antoinette Portis

32 p., HarperCollins, 2008. Imagination can take the form of seeing something new in an ordinary object. In this story, a little pig's stick becomes a fishing pole, a paintbrush, a horse, even a sword to fight a dragon. An unseen observer keeps mentioning "that stick," and each time, the little pig responds that it isn't a stick. Finally, the observer asks, "Then what is it?" The little pig replies, "It's my Not-a-Stick!" It can be anything the pig's imagination makes it. Illustrated with simple drawings, this story supports children's use of imagination to transform their experience. Ages 2-6

Monday, March 24, 2014

Just Kidding by Trudy Ludwig

Illustrated by Adam Gustavson. 32 p., Tricycle, 2006. Bullying can take the form of cruelty that the person describes as a joke. Such is the case for D .J., when Vince decides that the loser of "rock, paper, scissors" gets D. J. on his team. When D. J. leaves, Vince calls after him, "Can't you take a joke?" This isn't the first time that Vince has been mean to D. J.. D. J.'s Dad and brother teach him a game that helps him learn how to respond to being picked on, without being mean. The next day, D. J. uses what he's learned to support his friend, Brian, when Vince picks on Brian. In spite of D. J.'s positive responses, Vince keeps behaving obnoxiously, so D. J. and Dad meet with D. J.'s teacher. She encourages D. J. to tell her if Vince picks on him, and explains the difference between this and tattling. Eventually, Vince stops annoying him. Meanwhile, D. J. spends his time with friends who know how to joke. This book includes a foreword for adults that describes ways to support children, along with resources for children and adults, an afterword about the nature and forms of teasing, discussion questions for children,and a list of do's and don'ts related to teasing. Illustrated with expressive acrylic paintings, this story supports children who have been bullied and helps them respond appropriately. Ages 7-11

Monday, March 17, 2014

Fletcher and the Falling Leaves by Julia Rawlinson

Illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke. 32 p., Greenwillow, 2006. It can be difficult to accept change, especially when you don't understand it, and don't know what's going to happen. In this story, Fletcher, a little fox, worries that his favorite tree is losing all of its leaves. Although his mother assures him that "it's only autumn," he's increasingly alarmed as the tree loses more and more leaves, until they're all gone. He tries very hard to save the leaves, but the wind and other animals are more powerful than he is. When the last leaf falls from the tree, Fletcher takes it home and carefully tucks it into a little bed. But he's still worried about the tree. In the morning, though, he finds a surprise - the bare tree is covered with beautiful, sparkling icicles. It even seems to be content like this. Fletcher can finally feel relieved, and accept the change that has occurred. With its tender, yet strongly colored, pastel illustrations, this story gently reassures children that change can be a change for the better. Ages 3-8

Monday, March 10, 2014

Angry Dragon by Thierry Robberecht

Illustrated by Philippe Goossens. 26 p., Clarion, 2004. Anger can sometimes be overwhelming. When the little boy in this story becomes angry at his Mom, who has said No, he feels as if he's turned into a destructive dragon. Unlike the boy, the dragon doesn't like anything, and just says angry things. Being a dragon feels powerful and dangerous. Eventually, alone in his ruined room, the dragon/boy feels ashamed and sad, and his tears put out the fires of his anger. A boy again, he can connect with his parents, and is relieved that he can feel their love again. Illustrated with fiery oil paintings, this story offers empathy to children who have intense tantrums, and suggests the benefits of letting go of anger. Ages 3-6

Monday, March 3, 2014

What a Treasure! by Jane Hillenbrand

Illustrated by Will Hillenbrand.24 p., Holiday, 2006. Finding treasures can depend on your perspective. In this story, Mole gets a new shovel. When he digs for treasure, at first he finds things that are treasures to birds, snails, and squirrels. He generously gives these things to the creatures who identify them as treasures. Finally, he finds a new friend, another mole – a treasure for himself. With charming repetition in its text and unique, colorful, cheerful illustrations, this story gives children meaningful messages about believing in yourself, sharing, and the value of friendship. Ages 2-5

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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