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, May 26, 2014

Good-Bye, 382 Shin Dang Dong by Frances Park and Ginger Park

Illustrated by Yangsook Choi.32 p., National Geographic Society, 2002. It's hard to say goodbye when you move to another country. Jangmi doesn't want to move from Korea to the United States. She'll miss her best friend, Kisuni, and her home. Even the seasons and the food will be different. Her parents describe their new house and other things about America, and reassure her that she'll make new friends, but Jangmi still doesn't want to go. On their last day, friends and relatives come for a goodbye lunch, and Jangmi wants to keep these moments with her forever. She talks with Kisuni about how when one is awake, the other will be sleeping. We see that she's beginning to adjust when Kisuni comments, "'At least we'll always know what the other one is doing.'" As the family rides to the airport, Jangmi cries. She says goodbye to her old house many times. Her parents offer her the possibility of adopting Rose (the translation of Jangmi) as her American name, but Jangmi decides to keep her name exactly as it is. When the family finally arrives at their new home in Massachusetts, everything looks strange to Jangmi, yet it's all as her parents have described. Soon after the movers come, neighbors arrive, bringing food. Among them is Mary, who is Jangmi's age, and becomes her first friend in America. Jangmi is able to see that Mary is like Kisuni in some ways. As the story ends, Jangmi is writing to Kisuni, knowing that she is sleeping at that moment, and knowing the world that she lives in. Based on an event in the life of the authors' older sister, this story is illustrated with glowing, expressive oil paintings. It offers empathy and hope to children facing a move to another country. Ages 4-8

Monday, May 19, 2014

The School Is Not White! by Doreen Rappaport

Illustrated by Curtis James.40 p., Jump At The Sun, 2005. Although the United States Supreme Court declared school segregation illegal in 1954, it still existed in the South in 1965. This book tells the true story of the profoundly courageous family of Mae Bertha and Matthew Carter, who were African American and sent their seven school-age children to a “white” school. Before school even begins, people shoot at their house with rifles. The owner of the plantation where Matthew and Mae Bertha work as sharecroppers fires and evicts them when they refuse to withdraw the children from the “white” school. Other children at the school harass them constantly, year after year, and teachers and administrators are verbally abusive also. But Mae Bertha and Matthew want a better future for their children than sharecropping, and they believe passionately in the importance of education in attaining this. So they continue to encourage their children, who are in great pain from this experience. Eventually, other African American children enroll in the “white” schools. One afterword explains how the story came to be written, and another summarizes the now-grown children’s accomplishments, quoting their dreams for their own children. Suggested readings are also given. The Carter family’s story is illustrated with beautiful, somber oil paintings. Deeply moving, this story offers inspiration for courage and for working to realize equality. Ages 7-11

Monday, May 12, 2014

We Belong Together: A Book About Adoption and Families by Todd Parr

32 p., Little, Brown, 2007. There are so many reasons that families belong together. This story names some of them, from “you needed a home and I had one to share,” to “you needed someone to say ‘I love you’ and we had love to give.” The only time the word adoption is mentioned is in the subtitle. An author’s note suggests that families change the pronouns in the text to fit their own families, and the pictures suggest single-mom, single-dad, mom-and-dad, two-mom, and two-dad families that are yellow, blue, orange, green, red, or purple. An afterword for kids explains that love makes a family. With its energetic, childlike illustrations, this book conveys a positive sense of families fitting together perfectly. Ages 2-6

Monday, May 5, 2014

Hurricane Wolf by Diane Paterson

32 p., Whitman, 2006. A hurricane is scary, but with help from their parents, children can cope. Noah copes with a hurricane by drawing, verbalizing his feelings (likening the hurricane to a big, bad wolf, shouting at it to go away), helping his parents prepare their house, asking them for information, tracking the hurricane with his parents on the computer and TV, and turning his flashlight on sometimes to reassure his cat and dog. The story shows the family’s preparations and follows the hurricane’s progress over the house. Noah’s parents give helpful, reassuring, age-appropriate answers to his questions; for example, when he asks where birds go during hurricanes, his mother replies, “’They know what to do. Some find safe spots nearby and some fly far away.’”Afterward, Mom reassures Noah that the trees and plants that were damaged will grow back, and they can fix other things. As the story ends, Noah is helping to restore the house to its pre-hurricane state. An informational afterword gives facts about hurricanes and explains how to be safe. Illustrated with vibrant, expressive watercolors, this story offers information, reassurance, and ways to cope with this disaster. Ages 5-9

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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