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, June 30, 2014

Not A Box by Andrea Portis

32 p., HarperCollins, 2007. With imagination, a box can be almost anything. In this story, an unseen character who doesn't understand this questions a little rabbit, who is making believe the box is a car, a mountain, a burning building, and many other things. The unseen character keeps asking about the box, and the rabbit answers that it's not a box. At the end, when asked, "Well, what is it then?" the rabbit answers, "It's my Not-a-Box!" Illustrated with line drawings that show the "real" things in black and the "imagined" ones in red, this story encourages transformation through imagination. Ages 2-6

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Enchanted Wood by Ruth Sanderson

32 p., Little, Brown+, 19991. Resolution of grief can be a difficult journey. In this original fairy tale, when the queen dies, the king's grief is so vast that the entire land experiences years of drought. A legend says that finding the Heart of the World, which is in the Enchanted Wood, will allow a man to achieve his purpose, and the king realizes that ending the drought is just such a purpose. The two oldest princes, both full of arrogance, first seek the Heart of the World. The wise woman who guards the gates of the Enchanted Wood warns them to stay on on the path, but each is distracted - the oldest by his love of hunting, and the second by his love of fighting. The youngest prince, Galen, goes to the wood, with not only a passion to save his kingdom (and his brothers), but also, openness and humility. As a result of the latter attributes, he acquires the help of the gatekeeper's daughter, Rose, who accompanies him on his journey. Seeing his brothers struggling, Galen is sorely tempted to leave the path, but he's able to stay on it when Rose warns him that he'll become enchanted if he leaves it. When, with her help, he understands that he'd wanted to leave the path because he loves his brothers, yet he's staying true to his purpose of saving the kingdom, the forest becomes much less forbidding. They reach the Heart of the World, where there is a magical tree and a spring. Drinking from the spring, Galen wishes for a permanent end to the drought. It immediately begins to rain. The wood is no longer enchanted, freeing Rose's family from generations of guarding its gate. Galen's brothers greet him warmly and with new humility, and the king holds a great feast. When Galen becomes king, he and Rose rule the kingdom with wisdom and joy. Illustrated with beautifully atmospheric oil paintings, this story illustrates the roles of compassion and connection in recovery from grief. Ages 7-10

Monday, June 16, 2014

Let's Talk About It: Extraordinary Friends by Fred Rogers

Illustrated by Jim Judkis.32 p., Penguin Putnam, 2000. When encountering a person with a disability is new to you, you might feel curious, surprised, or even scared. Mr. Rogers acknowledges all these feelings in this book about understanding disability in particular, and difference in general. He encourages children to talk about their concerns with adults, and suggests that able-bodied children make friends with disabled ones in the same way as with other people: by introducing themselves. In the context of acknowledging universal human experiences such as needing friendship and love, he educates children about ways to address differences. For example, he advises able-bodied children to ask before helping a disabled child, reminding them that they, too, sometimes want help, and sometimes not. Wisely, he remarks that as we get to know people, we learn much about them that isn't obvious from first impressions, and increase our self-knowledge as well. Illustrated wtih color photographs of children who are introduced on the first page, this book offers gentle, supportive, honest encouragement for understanding and looking beyond disability. Ages 3-6

Monday, June 9, 2014

Mona: The Monster Girl by Moritz Petz

Translated by J. Alison James. Illustrated by Maja Dusíková. 32 p., North-South, 2004. When you're a monster, you might be afraid of the children that could be hiding under the bed. Such is the case for green, sharp-toothed, claw-footed Mona, who worries about going to sleep even though her mother reassures her that there's no such thing as children. But in fact, two children do show up in her attic after she's gone to bed. At first, Mona is terrifed of the children, and of course, they're terrifed of her. One child, Lenny, shoots Mona with a water pistol, and he and Maria chase Mona. But Maria realizes that Mona is crying, and the children apologize to her. And they make friends. They find that they envy each other's lives - Mona's mother doesn't like her to be clean or to pick up her room. They teach each other their favorite games. And they discover that the Mona's mother can't see the children, and the children's mother can't see Mona. When Mona finally goes back to bed, she dreams of friendly children who want to play. This isn't the first story of a monster who is afraid of children at bedtime (for example, see The Something by Natalie Babbitt, 1970, Clyde Monster by Robert L. Crowe, 1976, and the hilarious No Such Thing by Jackie Koller French, 1997) but this one is lovely and made me laugh. Illustrated with whimsical watercolor paintings, this story offers children humor and a new perspective to help dispel their fears. Ages 3-6

Monday, June 2, 2014

And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell

Illustrated by Henry Cole.32 p., Simon & Shuster, 2005. Children in two-father families may feel that their family is "different." In the context of describing the animal families at the Central Park Zoo in New York City, this sweet story, which recounts actual events, introduces the penguins, Roy and Silo. Roy and Silo are "a little bit different" from the other penguin couples because they were both boys. A devoted couple, they build a nest together, and Roy finds what he thinks is an egg. It's only a stone, but the two penguins take turns sitting on it as if to hatch it. Of course, no baby hatches. But a kind zookeeper realizes that they're in love and want a baby, so he puts an egg in the nest. They take care of the egg very carefully until their baby, Tango, hatches. The two daddy penguins care lovingly for her in the same ways that the other penguin parents care for their babies. Zoo visitors cheer for Tango. With its gentle, expressive watercolor illustrations, this story acknowledges that two-father families may be atypical in some ways, but not in the essential ones: their care and love for their children. Ages 3-8

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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