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 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

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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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