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, April 21, 2014

Feeling Better: A Kid's Book About Therapy by Rachel Rashkin

Illustrated by Bonnie Adamson.48 p., Magination, 2007. When kids start therapy, they have lots of questions. This story, in the format of a journal by 12-year-old Maya, helps answer them. Maya explains that she no longer has fun with her friends or doing things that she used to enjoy, has difficulty paying attention in class, often feels irritable, and gets a lot of stomach aches and headaches. She wants to be alone - but she doesn't. Maya's father explains to her that sometimes kids don't know how to express difficult feelings, so they try to forget them, and when that happens, they act and feel the ways Maya has been acting and feeling. He tells her that he had struggles like this as a child, but didn't learn to understand them until he was an adult - with the help of a therapist. And he offers Maya the option of meeting with a therapist. Both nervous and relieved, Maya meets with Dr. Madison. She explains what therapy is like, and that "if you need help from a therapist, it doesn't mean you are bad or weak or dumb. It means you're smart because you want to get better." Maya finds that Dr. Madison is nice, funny, accepting, and genuinely interested in her. She discovers that it's OK to feel all kinds of feelings during the sessions. Dr. Madison explains that the therapy is confidential, unless it becomes necessary to talk to others to keep Maya safe. She offers the option of playing games or making art, and Maya notices that making art is especially helpful in understanding her feelings, which helps her feel better. At the same time, it's not easy to get used to therapy, and sometimes Maya doesn't feel like going to her sessions. But her parents remind her that each time she goes, she's getting better. With continued work, Maya comes to realize that at least some of her sadness is about her mother being away on more business trips than before. Her mother helps her manage that with special times before and after the trips, and more communication while she's away. After nearly a year, Maya feels proud that she's worked through her "big" feelings, feels more like herself, and is almost ready to end her therapy. Illustrated with line drawings, this story offers children a helpful, hopeul introduction to therapy. Ages 8-14

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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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