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 7, 2014

Megan's Birthday Tree: A Story About Open Adoption by Laurie Lears

Illustrated by Bill Farnsworth. 32 p., Whitman, 2005. In an open adoption, children may explicitly maintain connection with their birth parent(s).. For Megan, one form this connection takes is a tree in her birth mother, Kendra's, yard when Megan was born. Kendra tells Megan that the tree reminds her of her, and every year on Megan's birthday, she sends her a photo of the tree. When Kendra announces plans to move, Megan worries that she won't have the tree in her new home, and so she might forget Megan. She tries to grow a tree for Kendra, but that doesn't work. So she saves all her money to buy Kendra a tree, even earning some by doing extra chores at home. But she doesn't have enough money to buy a tree, and declines her father's financial help, because she wants to do this on her own. Her next plan is to dig up a little tree in the yard to give to Kendra. As she's doing this, Kendra arrives for a visit. She explains to Megan that she doesn't need anything to help her remember her, and that she always will. Megan understands this. But it also turns out that Kendra has dug up the original birthday tree from her yard to take to her new house. Megan feels lucky to be part of this family. Illustrated with wistful oil paintings, this story celebrates the connections of adopted children with both their parents and their birth parents. Ages 6-9


  1. It looks like a great read, and a rather essential one too, especially for a lot of kids right now who are suffering from rather problematic home lives. Matters like these entail a bit of emotional flexibility, but also a lot of sense of perspective, especially in seeing one's situation from the larger scheme of things.

    The Bridge Across

    1. Thanks for your comment! One thing I really like about this story is how both the little girl, Megan, and the birth mother, Kendra, hold their connection to each other, even though Megan's (adoptive) parents are still her parents, and she has no less connection to them.


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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